Apple Patent Hints at Scene Controlling Technology

Smart Home graphic, Smart Home, Connected Home

This week’s SmartHome roundup features: a tech giant looking to deliver the world’s ultimate home remote control, a device that delivers energy consumption information at a glance, and a way for you to keep eye on your home plants while you’re away.

Unified home


The US Patent and Trademark Office has just published a patent filed by Apple that pertains to a device, like the iPhone, that can save, manage and recall entertainment and “smart home” system settings, called “scenes.”

Imagine this: every day is movie night and each night has a theme.  You set the light and sound settings different for each movie theme.  The patent suggests that these settings will be saved, so when you pick a movie night theme, everything else will follow – so there’s no need to tweak the settings, just choose the theme and you’re good to go.  The technology can also detect patterns so even if you have not set specifics, it can recommend one to you.

Apple already has the Remote app which perfectly syncs with iTunes.  So this new remote system could be placed on top of the Remote app or replace it.

Ambient devices


Ambient has a variety of devices that deliver information at a glance, such as the Ambient Orb that changes color based on real time stock market trends, traffic congestion, pollen forecasts, or any other Ambient information channels such as weather, windspeed, pollen, and more; the Flurry, which is an alarm clock that also delivers the weather forecast; and the Centerfield, which automatically provides easy, instant updates for every major league sports team.

Aside from the above mentioned products, Ambient also offers devices that help utility companies relay energy consumption to consumers.  The Energy Orb provides real-time data about energy consumption, changes in pricing and demand by glowing various degrees of colors.  When the Energy Orb glows green, demand and pricing is low, while glowing red indicates that demand and pricing is high.

Ambient offers two other energy devices: the Energy Dash which delivers the same glanceable information as the Energy Orb, plus real time indoor temperature and the option of displaying both individual home and neighborhood level comparative billing data; and its latest product the Energy Joule, which communicates changes in energy prices by glowing a varying degree of colors. If the device is glowing red, it indicates high energy prices; yellow indicates above average pricing; and green indicates average or low pricing.  Aside from that, the Energy Joule also displays information on the screen such as current energy rates, household consumption trends, and local weather forecast.

Cloud gardening


Some people have kids, others have pets, and some have their houseplants to take care of. With all the technology being developed these days, there are already devices available to help people monitor their kids and pets, but what about their plants?

Bitponics and Plant-in City offer gardening assistance with the use of the cloud, apps, and a browser or a smartphone.  Bitponics integrates with a person’s existing hydroponics system and features a Base Station that connects to the cloud via WiFi and monitors your plant’s pH, water and air temperature, light and humidity with a sensor that connects to the Base Station. All the data is stored in the cloud and can be accessed using a mobile app or web browser to relay real-time information – allowing you to act accordingly to help keep your plants alive and well.

As for Plant-in City, it’s basically a solution for planting in confined spaces with the perks of being able to monitor and take care of your plants even if you’re miles away.  Each frame is made up of cedar wood and copper piping that delivers the water from the tank, digital sensors and integrated lighting controlled by a smartphone app.  It’s what you may call an independent terrarium and because of how each box is designed, you can stack it up and have a variety of plants in your home without taking too much space.  If you can’t breathe clean air in the city, you can inside your home with these.