PowerBox is a simple home automation system that uses FlowCloud

These blog articles explore the potential of FlowCloud by offering several real-world examples, from home automation systems or healthcare to fully-fledged music subscription services.

One of the simplest applications of FlowCloud is found within the Connected Home; essentially this is focused on adding connectivity, monitoring and control to passive devices, previously unable to be operated automatically or remotely.

FlowCloud - PowerBox - home automation examplePowerBox includes a connected system of power sockets and an HTML5 app for online monitoring and control

PowerBox is an example application that tracks and controls the electricity consumed by an appliance, enabling the costs of running the appliance to be monitored by the consumer, helping them to reduce their energy bills. Furthermore the application delivers remote control and scheduling of individual power sockets to enhance the use of connected appliances; for example, alarms can be established to warn a consumer when power exceeds a defined limit, whilst scheduling can be used to turn on an appliance when electricity costs are lower. The consumer interacts with PowerBox through a FlowCloud enabled mobile/tablet app.

The diagram below illustrates how this application utilises FlowCloud.


FlowCloud enables PowerBox control and monitoring

FlowCloud provides all the essential back-end services including authentication and registration of one or more PowerBox units, collation of data from each socket, storage and management of scheduling information, and all the asynchronous messaging necessary to support remote control of appliances directly from the smartphone or tablet app. The application itself is written in HTML5 and therefore runs entirely within the web browser on the device; indeed this is a prime example of how the FlowCloud web API integrates directly and securely with the data centre and head-end services.

PowerBox is an example of how a relatively trivial application – in this instance switching on and off appliances and monitoring usage – can utilise FlowCloud APIs to build intelligence and security into the system. The technology could be built directly into plug sockets or alternatively integrated into residential gateways.

It’s easy to see how several of these services may be combined to provide the basis of the Connected Smart Home. To increase security still further, FlowCloud can take advantage of hardware virtualization available on MIPS CPU cores. For example, several services may be running on a residential gateway that manages your home TV subscription alongside your broadband connectivity, plus home security and e-health services, amongst others.

In this instance hardware virtualization can be an advantage, as multiple FlowCloud services can run independently alongside each other; it’s easier to maintain smaller systems rather than large monolithic blocks, the development costs are significantly reduced, and the customer is then able to choose which services and vendor products run on the gateway. We will see several more examples as devices and cloud-based services become more complex, all of which will influence the design of products in the Connected Smart Home.

Further information

Want to know more? You’ll find further information on FlowCloud via the dedicated developer portal at http://flow.imgtec.com/developers/; this series will include the following articles which will be published over the following weeks:

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