Ubiquitous temp sensors

I wish temp sensors and reporting was standard for all smart devices. Every bulb, outlet, appliance, thermostat, TV, whatever. These would then report changes ±1 degree as they happen. The possibilities are endless.

  • The delta and volatility across devices in the same room could be analyzed to automatically find insulation gaps, energy leaks, bad duct design, etc.
  • Detect devices that are going bad based on unusual operating temps.
  • Detailed heating/cooling load analysis.
  • Improved dynamic load control.
  • Advanced fire alarm - warn occupants of blocked egress routes, provide real-time safety information to firefighters.
  • Forensic analysis of fire points of origin, spread rate & patterns, and efficacy of any fire-retardant building materials used during construction.

Many IoT devices have thermal sensors used internally for safety interlock purposes already, but they don’t report the values. This is in part because vendors don’t want to have to constantly explain an operating temp of, say, 90f or 110f inside a device, but more importantly because nobody has articulated a useful context for temps other than those that could be experienced directly by the home occupant. My assertion is that although the interior run temp of a device isn’t important to humans, the insight of analyzing the frequency and amplitude of those changes over time, and the delta of the change across different local devices, would be quite compelling.

To the extent that devices already have some thermal sensing built in, the only modification required is to report static values periodically, and whenever changes greater than 1 degree are detected. The presence of that data then creates the revenue opportunity for the the first generation of purpose-built data analysis software. Worst case, the data goes unused. Best case, a whole new category of software analysis tools comes to the market to make use of it, driving new device sales and driving users to vendors who support the new capabilities. After all, with all other factors being equal who isn’t going to prefer the devices that help them save poor Fluffy when a fire breaks out?

The internal temps throwing off the temp sensors is what caused Ecobee to never update their Switch+ as a temp sensor for their thermostats. The majority of people want to know the temp of the room, not the device. When you design for the niche market your ROI is super low. I agree it would be cool, I’d love to see it, but from a business standpoint it would cost them extra money and bring in little to no additional revenue.