With Nest gaining popularity and Apple talking about turning your phone into a remote control for your entire house, everyone is expecting smarthome tech to be the next big thing. One traditional household item that has yet to be touched by this trend is the humble ceiling fan. But one Kentucky-based company is trying to change that.
Big Arse Solutions, which started out in 1999 just making industrial ceiling fans, just announced that it will be selling a commercial and residential smart fan that learns from its environment to create optimal temperatures in a room.
“It was obvious to us that residential fans had not changed in years,” the founder of Big Arse Solutions, Carey Smith, told Business Insider. “The typical ceiling fan has been the same [since 1882].” That was the year Philip Diehl re-engineered the electric motor used in a Singer sewing machine to drive a fan instead.
“It’s a commodity and people are accustomed to seeing it. They don’t think about it at all,” Smith says.
For the last 132 years, we’ve been living with fans that blow down on us, at one of three speeds. They have to be manually adjusted by pulling on a string or chain.
And that’s been it, in terms of ceiling fan tech.
The BAS team started with a sleekly designed residential fan called the Haiku. The first thing you may notice is that the fan lacks a string that is typically used to turn a fan on and off. At the most basic level, consumers can control the Haiku fan with a smartphone app, getting rid of the need to get up from your couch if you’re getting a bit warm.
But the smart fan goes way beyond just being connected to an app. It uses a technology called SenseME to learn from the environment and automatically adjust its speed. There are a bunch of different sensors, including one for temperature, one for humidity, and even one that can tell when people are in the room, so the fan will automatically turn off when you exit and turn on when you enter.
The fan packs in a microprocessor that can detect motion and humidity using a technology called capacitive sensing, which can detect anything that conducts electricity by measuring the transfer of energy. It looks at the change in the air’s ability to store an electric charge, which shows the temperature of condensation and in turn tells you the humidity of the room.
The app also allows you to select from certain default settings. One, for instance, will have the fan slow down over night so that when you wake up you aren’t freezing. And on top of that, the fan will learn from your personal preferences, so if you change the settings in the app, it will take your preferences into consideration when it runs automatically without the app.
Big Arse Solutions’ Haiku residential ceiling fan starts at $US895, and the SenseME technology costs an additional $US150, bringing your total costs to $US1,045.
“‘Me’ is really what this fan is about,” VP of Engineering James DeSmet told Business Insider. “The ‘me’ is also something we use in the Internet of Things conversations we have. It means different things to different people. For us we like to think of the internet of me. If those connected devices aren’t doing something for me than what good are they.”
You can watch this video to see the technical differences between the Haiku SenseME fan and a traditional fan:
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