AirEx – Smart ventilation control to balance energy efficiency with air-exchange

AirEx is a novel smart home technology that helps reducing the home’s heat demand, without compromising moisture build-up and subsequently damp and indoor air quality. AirEx uses smart sensors to monitor and analyse environmental conditions while its cloud-based algorithms determine the vent state to automatically regulate airflow. It uses AI to predict occupants’ behaviour and weather patterns for more efficient airflow optimisation. Via improved thermal efficiency of the building fabric, the system can reduce heating energy bills by 15%, which means 2-3 years payback. AirEx’s key customers are Social Housing Associations who have the mandate to improve the energy efficiency of their building stock.

Within the scope of Agile IoT project, we had the opportunity to develop standard APIs using Agile IoT to interact to our product, AirEx and make it therefore more agnostic with regards to integration with third party connected devices and infrastructure. During this project the key component we utilised is ‘Connectivity and Communication Protocols’, where we managed to extend this component via implementing agile-rfm69 protocol to communicate using HopeRF RFM69 module.

We found that the communications component has a reasonable API and there is existing support for a number of useful technologies. For example, it provides a useful outline for integrating BLE sensors within Linux. During this Agile IoT project we have successfully developed communication protocols with Bluetooth-enabled low energy temperature and humidity sensors, which is a significant step in our development considering the increased need for connected devices.

One of the main benefits of using Agile IoT was that it did not require much effort for actual deployment: once the system is working, deploying new devices via resin.io requires minimal effort, since new devices will pull down the appropriate images automatically.

Furthermore, the use of Agile IoT does not require much memory: containers use limited RAM, some as little as 20MB and hence it works very efficiently on a Raspberry Pi. Nor did we experience any processor issues with using Agile IoT on Raspberry Pi 3 or even on Pi Zero.

The critical requirements are stability of the platform, extensibility and the ability to update remotely – all of which have been successfully managed using Agile IoT.

In the future we are keen to continue to use Agile-BLE in order to integrate additional sensors. In addition, once the Agile hub becomes LoRaWAN-enabled we will be very keen to explore the possibility of using Agile hub.

Our Software Lead is presenting some of the key outcomes of the project via this IoT Webinar:

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This other video demos AirEx on AGILE:

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– AirEx

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

Using Agile-IoT technologies in an IoT solution for energy saving in vacation rental properties

The domain of vacation rentals has drastically evolved over the last few years, thanks to popular online platforms like AirBnB and HomeAway. Unlike hotels, which are usually equipped with complex automation technologies, vacation rental properties are still running behind and have not yet adopted connected home technologies. The reason is usually the lack of dedicated IoT solutions which do not require complex house renovations and high initial investments. The lack of connected home technologies turns out to be a missed opportunity for the owner or manager to save energy, money, and time and to simplify the management of the property.

Modosmart (www.modosmart.com) wants to solve this problem and has developed ELIO, an IoT solution which reduces the energy expenses in vacation rental properties thanks to the automation of air-conditioning and heating based on presence detection technology. The system includes two devices developed by Modosmart, namely a window sensor and a room sensor unit which includes presence detection and temperature and humidity sensing. The devices are in pre-commercial state, tested and validated with a set of early adopters. They use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for communication. In addition, the solution is equipped with an off-the-shelf air-conditioning controller able to control any type of infrared based A/C split machine.

Modosmart was selected as one of the eight startups awarded in the first open call launched by the Agile-IoT project and which had proposed project ideas to integrate the Agile-IoT gateway into existing IoT solutions. Our project aimed to integrate the Agile-IoT gateway hardware and software stack into the Elio solution.

The project started on the 1st of January and ended on the 30th of June. During the first half of the project there has been a thorough analysis of the gateway stack with the aim to allow the gateway to speak with the custom devices developed by Modosmart. The outcome of this phase was a proof of concept demo showing the gateway communicating with an ESP32 board, equipped with BLE communication and using the same Nordic nrf51822 microcontroller used in our custom BLE devices.

During the second three months of the project, the proof of concept board has been replaced by the real devices of the Elio solution. At the end of this phase the gateway was able to collect presence, temperature and humidity data from the room sensor unit, to monitor weather a window is open or close and to control the air-conditioning by speaking to the off-the-shelf controller.

Thanks to the collaboration with the Agile-IoT project and to the received funding, the Elio solution is now able to rely on a modular, robust and flexible gateway which can accelerate the time-to-market. The modularity, robustness and flexibility is a result of the fact that the Agile-IoT gateway is built on top of a Docker containerized system powered by ResinOS, which is an operating system bringing the containerization approach to embedded systems. The benefits of using  a modular containerized framework is demonstrated by the fact that by developing our own container we have been able to connect the Agile-IoT gateway to our devices without any modification to the other parts of the system.

Developing on top of a Docker based system has been the first experience at Modosmart, and thanks to the possibility offered by the Agile-IoT project and to the support received by the project’s technical team, we have been able to achieve our objective in a relatively short time and without facing major obstacles.

 

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Modosmart

Image from PxHere