NEW YORK – The weekly intro to the old TV series “The Outer Limits” began with the lines, “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling the transmission …”
Fifty years later, separate initiatives by a GE Appliances skunkworks collaboration and a Hong Kong majap start-up are making the sci-fi show’s opening premise a reality.
The GE effort, through a development and manufacturing initiative called FirstBuild, has taken the form of an open-source maker module called Green Bean. Described as the first of its kind, the module allows users to hack into and create their own controls for select GE appliances through a software development kit, or SDK.
Explained GE Appliances engineer Taylor Dawson, “By giving anyone and everyone a direct path into the brain of our home appliances, we are endowing them with the ability to reprogram and re-imagine the way that their appliances could work. Green Bean is limited only by your creativity and programming skills.”
The module, which was introduced last month at Maker- Con New York, is available for $19.95 through FirstBuild. com. The global online community for engineers, scientists and home enthusiasts was launched by GE and Local Motors in May, and maintains a microfactory near company headquarters in Louisville, Ky.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based Ambi Labs has applied its proprietary machine learning and predictive technology to the air conditioner category and came up with Ambi Climate, a wireless device that can elicit more consistent and comfortable room temperatures from home ACs.
The unit, available to Kickstarter supporters for $49, can convert any remote-controlled AC into a smart device that can be operated by an Android or iOS smartphone or tablet. (At press time, Ambi Climate was 200 percent funded with over $50,000 after just 24 hours into the Kickstarter project.)
Ambi Climate also monitors sunlight, air flow, temperature, humidity, movement and other elements to automatically maintain a just-cold-enough clime with fewer fluctuations, resulting in energy savings of up to 30 percent.
“We have surveyed over a thousand households that own conventional air conditioners, and over 60 percent complained that they have trouble with overcooling,” said Ambi Labs CEO and co-founder Julian Lee. “Overcooling ACs are not only uncomfortable but also waste energy.”
Lee said his company is trying to change that with its smart sensor and learning technology, which will allow consumers to easily enhance their AC’s intelligence.
We now return control of your television set to you …