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Sense

Track energy usage like a grocery receipt: item by item

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Chris Micali@cmicali · Co-founder, Product @ Sense
Hello! We built Sense because we believe homes should be more energy efficient, but we lack good information on where we spend our energy. We realize though, that plenty of people would like to have more information about what’s going on in their homes — without cameras or putting tons of sensors all over the house. So our first set of features focuses on home awareness. The app tells you what’s on at home (Did you leave on the iron?), when things happen (Is the garage door open? Did you kids get home from school), and how much energy each appliance uses (Should I replace that old fridge in the basement?) Sense consists of a monitor (as pictured above) plus two current sensors that are attached to the mains inside your electric panel. Install is simple and quick (10-15 min on average) but must be done by an electrician (those mains are live ⚡️) A little bit about our team and company history: Our background is in speech recognition. When the three of us left Vlingo (by then, Nuance) we wanted to work on a technical problem that uses our expertise in signal processing, machine learning, mobile, and software. We also wanted to do something that has a positive, real impact. We started reading all the academic research about “non-intrusive load monitoring” and thought - wow, this is a solved problem. Hah! Nope! We found that, like speech recognition 20 years ago, what works in the lab is much harder in the real world, where data is messy. Three years later, with the help of our beta tester community, we have cracked this problem and found an approach that works. We are now starting to ship product and as we get more users and more data, Sense will get better over time! Sense formally launched at the end of October as a quiet “early adopter launch” to get more product feedback from the tech community and to get data that allows us to increase our coverage of devices. We were surprised by how quickly we sold out of our first production run (which we have already started to ship), so we are now building a second small production run that will ship by the end of March. We’d love to get your feedback on Sense and will make it available to any Product Hunter at the early adopter price. If we’ve sold out just get in touch (email, twitter, pm, whatever) and we will sort you out.
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Chris Micali
Maker
@cmicali · Co-founder, Product @ Sense
Hello! We built Sense because we believe homes should be more energy efficient, but we lack good information on where we spend our energy. We realize though, that plenty of people would like to have more information about what’s going on in their homes — without cameras or putting tons of sensors all over the house. So our first set of features focuses on home awareness. The app tells you what’s on at home (Did you leave on the iron?), when things happen (Is the garage door open? Did you kids get home from school), and how much energy each appliance uses (Should I replace that old fridge in the basement?) Sense consists of a monitor (as pictured above) plus two current sensors that are attached to the mains inside your electric panel. Install is simple and quick (10-15 min on average) but must be done by an electrician (those mains are live ⚡️) A little bit about our team and company history: Our background is in speech recognition. When the three of us left Vlingo (by then, Nuance) we wanted to work on a technical problem that uses our expertise in signal processing, machine learning, mobile, and software. We also wanted to do something that has a positive, real impact. We started reading all the academic research about “non-intrusive load monitoring” and thought - wow, this is a solved problem. Hah! Nope! We found that, like speech recognition 20 years ago, what works in the lab is much harder in the real world, where data is messy. Three years later, with the help of our beta tester community, we have cracked this problem and found an approach that works. We are now starting to ship product and as we get more users and more data, Sense will get better over time! Sense formally launched at the end of October as a quiet “early adopter launch” to get more product feedback from the tech community and to get data that allows us to increase our coverage of devices. We were surprised by how quickly we sold out of our first production run (which we have already started to ship), so we are now building a second small production run that will ship by the end of March. We’d love to get your feedback on Sense and will make it available to any Product Hunter at the early adopter price. If we’ve sold out just get in touch (email, twitter, pm, whatever) and we will sort you out.
Aaran@aaran_mcguire · DevOps Engineer
@houlette @cmicali can you explain a bit about how this works?
Chris Micali
Maker
@cmicali · Co-founder, Product @ Sense
@aaran_mcguire Sure - The Sense monitor measures current (with 2 current transformers clipped around the mains, not per-circuit) and voltage of your home’s electric feed at a very high rate. Then, on the monitor, we do signal processing, event detection, and pattern matching on those signals and hypothesize what is currently on, similar in concept to recognizing speech in an audio signal. The Sense app shows what is on in real time, a configurable timeline of what was on, and a set of historical/trend features that let you see your energy usage over time broken down by device. Happy to go into more details on a specific part of it...
Joshua Dance@joshdance · Engineer, Product Manager, athlete
@cmicali @aaran_mcguire Is there a training mode? For example it could say turn on washer, and then I could turn it on and it could learn that signal?
Chris Micali
Maker
@cmicali · Co-founder, Product @ Sense
@joshdance @aaran_mcguire We have been testing one internally, but it will be a while before we bring it into the app. We want to make sure the experience is good enough (and that the training system is working well enough,) and getting these things right is taking some time.
Aaran@aaran_mcguire · DevOps Engineer
@cmicali so whats your end goal for this product? I see a interesting product, but I'm not sure it has enough at the moment to become something that people want/need? are there going to be further investments to what the app can do?
@cmicali @aaran_mcguire Would love to see image of what those CT sensors look like. I have tried some other energy monitoring systems and those clips could not handle 200Amp 2-phase panel. Just would not fit around mains.
Chris Micali
Maker
@cmicali · Co-founder, Product @ Sense
@apsinkus @aaran_mcguire Sure thing - pics here: http://imgur.com/a/cmjE3 - We experimented with a lot of different types of CTs and ended up on these. They can be easily clipped on/off with one hand and fit every panel we have encountered so far.
Chris Micali
Maker
@cmicali · Co-founder, Product @ Sense
@aaran_mcguire Ultimately, we think homes can and should be more energy efficient, but people lack the information and tools to make them so. Among other things, we are developing solar support (a natural fit, especially as storage becomes widespread). We are also working on IFTTT integration and will eventually provide control through integration with connected devices (smart home standards are a bit of a mess right now, but we are paying attention to where things are going). Once we have enough data, we plan to add monitoring and fault detection of appliances (for example: an alert that your furnace is failing). Of course, early customer feedback will play a big role in our feature set and product prioritization.
@cmicali You got work cut out for you, since example you have show is what new construction stuff looks like with copper mains. Most panels I have seen look like this http://imgur.com/sm0apKt . You find CT clips to fit there, you have a win. I have tried 4 different monitoring systems and had to return all of them, because CT clips were too fat.
David Simpson@simpson · Director of Product Design, Datto
@apsinkus @cmicali Indeed, this is what our 200amp panel looks like and I don't imagine we could fit those clips. Major bummer I would love to use this!
Chris Micali
Maker
@cmicali · Co-founder, Product @ Sense
@simpson @apsinkus Hi David - If you send some pictures of your panel to support@sense.com we can figure out if it is compatible and what we might be able to do.
Chris Corriveau@genevate · CTO, LocalStack
First, need this for my home! Second if this works as advertised and as more device fingerprints are discovered this will be a must have in every new construction. Electric companies should have already provided this type of functionality. Glad to see this and hope it's a success. With momentum I see a Nest acquisition in your future!
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Community Lead, Product Hunt
@cmicali - tell us about sense :) With the ever-growing inter-connected home, monitoring usage seems important!
Kristofer™@kristofertm · Founder @ Lamplighter Labs. #7 on PH.
@bentossell *intercepted*
@marty@marty · Director, Tens
@cmicali Hey Chris, this looks fantastic. It seems crazy that we get electricity bills through the door without an exact run-down of where the charges come from. I look forward to knowing exactly how much each appliance costs me. Will this product work in the UK? If not, do you have plans to adapt it for the UK?
Chris Micali
Maker
@cmicali · Co-founder, Product @ Sense
@marty Hi, thanks! I think it is crazy there is no visibility today into our energy usage and we are going to fix that. We are focusing on the US first but support for other countries is on the roadmap. I expect the UK will be near the top of our list.