Spark Open Source Smart Thermostat
With people still trying to wrap their heads around Google's takeover of Nest and the implications that has for privacy, a new player has entered the space with a very different approach to Nest.
This new entrant is spark who specialize in producing technology for others to use to create WiFi enabled devices.
This promo video will give you an idea of what the spark crew is about:
Going Open Source
So the engineers at spark got together and quickly built a prototype WiFi enabled thermostat that has the major features of the Nest. This includes being remotely programmable and machine learning capabilities to learn your heating and cooling patterns and then operate your HVAC system more efficiently.
At the heart of their device is their Spark Core, an Arduino-compatible Wi-Fi development board. On top of that they added a Panasonic PIR motion detector to sense when you're home, a Honeywell HumidIcon temperature and humidity sensor, and a few Adafruit 8x8 LED matrices for the front display panel.
In addition they plan to provide the "intelligence" of the thermostat via Spark Cloud - their cloud service for connected devices.
It took their team 20 hours of work and $70 worth of components to produce the prototype.
Will This Solve Privacy Concerns?
One of the great things about open source systems is that you get access to everything - there is no secret 'black box' component and you can see all the data that's been sent and received by the device.
The downside is that it still requires a cloud service - this means that your data may not be accessed by Google, but it's still being held by someone else and you never know what they might do with it in the future. However I would expect spark to address these concerns if the project really takes off, and at least it's not as concerning as handing over you data to the same company that knows your internet habits better than you do.