Friday, March 15, 2013

Thinking Big and Home Monitoring?

Sometimes I think too small.  I come up with a small idea and pour a lot of time into it,  cutting and polishing diamond from stone.  That is fine. That is where I spend a lot of time. But that is not me.

I like Big, bold ideas.

Now is a good time to be looking for Big Ideas.  The internet is huge.  It is the largest thing that humankind has devised. But it is not a single thing. It is not a networked collection of servers and clients. It is the essence of virtual. We run our ideas in virtual machines.  We use virtual memory.  In our distributed, concurrent web of things we don't ask how big, but how many?

What if my home monitoring project isn't really about a bunch of internet enabled sensors. What if the sensors are just players in a virtual network that represent home.  How do I make sense of all of the collected data?  How do I maintain privacy?  How do I make of all of this ubiquitous?

The Nest smart thermostat is a diamond.  It has one task and it does it (apparently) beautifully.
But I am interested in the bigger picture.  I'm interested in a more radical idea:

What if  you could monitor your home by modelling your home (sensors)  as intelligent agents in the cloud?  What if this model ran on a virtual network dedicated exclusively to you?  What if you virtual network of sensors could tell a story (a story about the well being of your home)?

What I don't want:  An alarm sent to my phone notifying me that Grandma's stove has been left on for over an hour without any sort of movement in the kitchen.

What I do want: An alarm sent to my phone because it is 11pm, the stove is on, no one has moved around in the kitchen for 20 minutes,  the TV is on in the bedroom and Grandma has never used the stove that late (her profile has shown that she has never used the stove after 9pm).

I dunno. There is a realistic, big idea somewhere in there. I just need to tease it out.

Next week I am heading off to the San Francisco Erlang 2013 conference.   Hopefully it will remind me that I am not a diamond cutter.

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