Motion Cookies from Sen.se are designed to extend the scope and take-up of the Internet of Things (IoT) by transforming any object on which they are placed on into a genuine communication platform.
Short and medium-term forecasts predict that there will be 25 billion connected objects around the world by 2015, and that this figure will have doubled by 2020. But what exactly are these ‘connected objects’? This term refers to a wide array of quite costly items, of varying usefulness and convenience, which generally require the intervention of the user to achieve their purpose. And because the purposes of these objects are rather ill-defined, they haven’t really caught on yet, so this leap in technology, which was widely expected to usher in a futuristic society, seems to have been written off as a mere gadget. However, Rafi Haladjian, tech entrepreneur and founder of Sen.se, is determined to promote the true potential of an ‘Internet of Everything’. Accordingly, he set himself the task of creating a single low-cost sensor that can be used anywhere and everywhere, which he calls the Motion Cookie. Along similar lines to the multi-use connected rabbit Nabaztag, the Motion Cookie represents the second generation of connectivity. Smaller than the Nabaztag, it can be used in a variety of situations, extending the potential of existing objects that do not yet have this technology embedded. The main advantage is the way the Motion Cookie works, i.e. completely autonomously and discreetly, without requiring the user to intervene.
One sensor, many uses
The Sen.se technology is made up of a unit of five sensors connected to a base, the ‘Mother’, which you start out by programming according to what you want to get out of them. The Mother then centralises the data captured and sends you notifications. There are a vast number of ways in which you can use the system. Stuck to your mattress it can help to regulate your sleeping patterns; affixed to a bottle it can measure the amount of water you are drinking; or automatically order coffee pods when your stock is running out. Although the company has opted to focus primarily on home automation, the versatile nature of the sensor system also lends itself to commercial applications – helping to reduce energy wastage; integrating into a security network; facilitating an interactive marketing strategy by for example displaying targeted advertising to catch the attention of passers-by. What was important for Rafi Haladjian was to create an automated machine-to-machine service. “What mainly inhibits data capture is the need for active intervention by the user [...]. We need objects that don’t put any requirements on the user, that provide clear information without expecting him/her to do anything apart from what s/he would normally be doing [...],” he argues. Once installed, the sensors can always be reprogrammed for other uses and become part of a user’s daily life without needing any particular attention apart from a change of battery every fifteen months if the system is used in sedentary mode, or every seven months if it is used ‘on the go’.
The smart home
“We’re trying to invent a mature IoT world, an IoT 2.0,” explains Rafi Haladjian. His team are very much aware of the steps that still need to be taken. While the advent of multi-use sensors certainly represents a technological leap forward, this needs to be accompanied by a progressive learning process on the part of both the user and the sensors. “[What is important] is that they are able to learn from our behaviour, to capture the reality around them so that they can act intelligently, make recommendations to the user and, to a certain degree, perhaps even take decisions on his/her behalf.” Sen.se hopes to see increasing collaboration with brands in order to develop dedicated applications using information from the sensors so that using the system gradually becomes part of people’s everyday habits. In addition to the Sen.se system’s instant data capture ability, the company’s idea is that the system will learn about the user and progressively create a two-way relationship – for instance switching the lights on a few seconds before you arrive home in the evening, or turning on the coffee machine as soon as you wake up in the morning. These small sensors looks certain to have a great future and it should not be long before these devices are being integrated into products we buy, without our necessarily knowing they are there. The question now is rather all about when brands will come on board and support the development of the sensor system. Explains Rafi Haladjian: “We hope to turn Sen.se into an app store with apps from initiatives by brands, developers and ordinary individuals.”