Home Household appliances Universal Home Appliance Controller (UAC) — IOT Home Appliance | by Shaun Scallan | resourcetopia

Universal Home Appliance Controller (UAC) — IOT Home Appliance | by Shaun Scallan | resourcetopia

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Inside an appliance

You know how refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, ovens, toasters, kettles, etc. are designed for obsolescence to drive continued sales, and if we could offer new features to give existing devices a second and third life.

Most of the manufacturer’s devices do much the same from a functional point of view.

Most of the manufacturer’s devices do much the same from a functional point of view. They are developing the device controller to provide their variation on the theme. “A little more” button on the toaster, brilliant user interface in terms of consumer need.

The majority of these controllers are unique to the product and closed in architecture, usually to preserve the underlying IP address. Turning on the elements in heaters is done the same way as turning on a solenoid valve to let water into a washing machine or dishwasher. Lots of common control functions. The differences lie in the way the appliance is globally controlled to carry out, for example, the washing or cooking cycle.

Imagine a world where the device is optimally controlled with the latest control schemes, where they are coordinated to optimize their use of energy, where the controller hardware is a standardized piece of open source hardware shared by all major Appliances. The alternative are closed, manufacturer-centric control ecosystems that multiply the complexity of controlling, updating, and maximizing device lifespans. Not to mention the cost of maintaining spare parts for multiple variants that represent multiple reinventions of the same wheel, for little benefit to the often standard functionality of home appliances.

This world is here today, if we choose it. The building blocks exist today in the wide range of microprocessor options based on an embedded system-on-chip (SoC) to power such a controller.

Right now we have a cacophony of competing hardware architectures for IOT applications, some based on similar processor families, but all with their own particular twist. Fortunately, we can standardize them under one architecture through the wonder of software abstraction.

We need an underlying architecture to guide this work, something like a Universal Device Control Architecture (UACA). More on that later.

Having been a control systems engineer in the first chapter of my career, I know there is a lot of experience in industrial control companies that exist around the world like Siemens, ABB, Rockwell, Schneider Electric, Honeywell, Mitsubishi Electric, etc

The IOT revolution has democratized access to some of the most powerful control hardware available today.

The IOT revolution has democratized access to some of the most powerful control hardware available today. The IOT opens the floodgates of the possible, unhindered by the chains of behemoths of enterprise control systems whose processes stifle any possibility of innovation. That’s why they’re acquiring innovation from smaller, more nimble companies, free from the pains of process-based business paralysis. But I digress.

What I mean is that there is a lot of good in the processes, but not at the expense of innovation. I believe there are real gains to be made in the thoughtful architecture of device controls that can benefit both the manufacturer, the consumer, and ultimately the planet.

Yes we can extend the lifespan of devices by design, then we have a chance to live within the limits of our planetary constraints.

I’m looking for like-minded souls who see some value in the above in order to do something worthwhile in this space. If we can extend the life of devices by design, we have a chance of living within our planetary constraints.