"Internet of Things" seems to be the trending term in the technology scene in 2015. Technologists and innovators are trying to integrate technology and internet together with things that we use everyday, making them "smarter" and essentially, improve our lives. However, it may seemed that these ideas are overhyped and we fail to really understand what more good they can bring to us.
Today, we are going focus our efforts on Ambi Climate, the Smart Add-On to your home/office Air Controller. How does Ambi Climate change the way we control our Air Conditioner at home? What benefits will it bring?
The Ambi Climate controller is a simple device that is powered via the usual USB standard. The device is connected by a MicroUSB port. Thankfully, it also has a USB output which we can use to connect to other USB powered devices. Next to it is a reset button that put the device back to its default factory settings.
The Ambi Climate sensor is equipped with a temperature and a humidity sensors. These are the main sensors where the control gets its feedback from, and coupled with user feedback, recommends the best settings for the air conditioner. It also has a built in beep that notifies the user whenever there is a change in air conditioner settings. Also, the light indicators at the front effectively tells the user the status of the controller. We also appreciate the thoughts that Ambi Labs have put into the design of the notification lights, as we found that the lights were not glaring and comfortable to the eyes when it is placed in the dark.
We thought that the setting up process was rather straightforward and there were little hiccups along the way. The instructions were clearly printed on the box, and all we had to do was to follow them step by step to get our experience started. After powering up the device and downloading the application from Android App Store, the rest of the instructions were pretty much guided on the app.
The Ambi Climate controller is best to be placed near the actual control unit on a flat surface. To make sure that the controller is able to connect to the air conditioner under different circumstances, Ambi Labs have placed 5 infrared transmitters.
We had to connect the device to our home wireless network next. It was noted that Ambi Climate does not support the 5GHz channel on routers, but it was not a huge issue, as most routers out in the market will have a 2.4GHz channel.
With that, the setting up process is almost completed. Now, the Ambi Climate just has to understand your comfort level and create the air conditioner settings accordingly.
What it does
For a start, as the device has yet to understand the user, a "Comfort" mode is yet to be available. To kickstart the learning process, we had to set the Mode to "Temperature", which targets the room to be maintained at a certain temperature. The temperature and humidity sensor will record the room's temperature and humidity, and log these information down. If you are feeling too hot or too cold, you simply have to tell the application that you are feeling so, and the controller will instruct the air conditioner to change its settings to suit your needs. This logging of essential data allows the hardware to know the user's preferred settings of the air conditioner based on the physical factors of the room. This measure of comfort level is practical and makes much more sense than just relying data within the thermostat in the air conditioner.
Once Ambi Climate understands your comfort level, you will unlock the "Comfort" mode, which is a personalized mode based on your previous inputs. There will not be a need to change the air conditioner settings from the remote control ever again.
Pros and ConsDue to the short period of testing of the Ambi Climate device, we will not be able to see the actual long term advantages that the device brings. It is understood that with such a dedicated smart controller for the air conditioner, we will ultimately save quite an amount of money. The controller can actually help to turn up the settings of the air conditioner when it has reached the optimal physical settings in the room, and thus reducing the electrical power it utilizes. Also, as the fan speed decreases, there will also be less a need to maintain the air conditioner unit as frequently.
However, there weren't all advantages on the Ambi Climate controller. During our review, we realised that it was quite painful to get the machine to start learning your comfort level. As expected, Ambi Climate controller will change the settings of the air conditioner at night to provide a more comfortable sleep and reduce acoustic levels. At times, this change in setting can be too drastic for user. This has woke me up from my sleep several times throughout the night to tell the Ambi Climate device through the phone app that I was feeling too hot or too cold, and spoilt quality sleep time. As the device slowly understood my comfort level, it was able to adapt well enough and the settings were adequate, after the introduction of "Comfort" mode.
We felt that it is hard to sell such IoT products directly to end consumers, due to the extra hassle that has to be made to get the product to work effectively. Don't get us wrong, as we thought that the Ambi Climate is an excellent piece of technology. Ambi Labs should probably target the air conditioner manufacturers and integrate their technology directly into the air conditioners, so as to reach out to a larger market. It is hard to justify the extra money that we will spend on the Ambi Climate controller, for the long term cash savings that we will get.
If you are someone who wants to show your extreme care for the environment and spearheads the green movement, the Ambi Climate could be a good product to show off your efforts. For everyone else, the Ambi Climate should be quite hard to accept, taking that it costs a whopping $279 Singapore dollars.
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