“Your current power consumption is 534 W”. So what ? Why you need to enrich incoming data on IOT platforms.
Let’s see why you need more than a WYPIAYG (What you post is all you get) platform to make meaningful and useful use of data posted by your devices.
In this post we are going to discuss the first reason: WYPIAYG platforms only handle and offer the raw values measured and posted by your connected devices.
Raw values are like atoms. They are the basis of everything but it is hard to use them for anything practical. You need the platform to turn this raw data into something which you can make use of in a more meaningful way. On Sen.se when you post a value, you can automatically generate one, two, or ten other values that enrich what you have sent. You can use this newly generated data to create visualizations, trigger messages or actions in a more accurate way.
Suppose you have a basic sensor, one measuring your power consumption. Every few minutes (let’s say every five minutes), your device posts your current power usage (for exemple 534 W). What you are usually able to do on a platform that only records raw data is:
- Draw a nice chart showing that currently your consumption is 534W, and showing what this value was five minutes ago, and five minutes before, and five minutes before and so on.
- Send an email or a tweet saying that your current power consumption is 534 W.
- Use the API to retrieve the value 534 W.
You are just showing the same figure by different means, in different places, but you are not making it more meaningful. It belongs to the human user to read this value and try to figure out what 534 W actually means. The current power consumption is 534 W. So what ?
OK, you can also trigger some “smart” action. For instance
- Put at trigger that will send a tweet when the value posted by your device is above or below a given threshold. So you put a trigger at say, 500 W, and you get a tweet every 5 minutes as long as you are above 500 W.
On Sen.se we offer the ability to process data you are posting. So, not only can you use the feed of raw data your device is posting, but you can also use feeds of data that are generated by the platform Apps. Here are some examples of what you can do in the case of our power consumption measuring device:
- What does it mean that your current consumption is 534 W ? Is this high or low compared to what you usually consume ?
- Our Dynamic Gauge App, displays the last value, relatively to all the values you have ever posted. You know how significant the last value is. Besides, Dynamic Gauge creates feeds in which it posts the values when they get to an all times high, or an all times low. You can trigger an action (send an alert, a tweet, turn on or off a device, whatever) when you reach a new maximum or a new minimum value.
- It is hard to always look at numbers and grasp what they mean in simple terms. The Expressive Sign App lets you turn values into status messages. So instead of trying to figure out the difference between 212 W and 324 W and 786 W, you get clear messages saying that your current consumption is LOW, NORMAL, RATHER HIGH.
- Knowing your power consumption during the last five minutes is not very useful practically speaking. You are not going to change your behavior every 5 minutes. The Count Sum Average App, lets you process the incoming data on the fly and create data feeds of more compact, aggregated numbers. For example, the total number of watts consumed during an hour or a day, the average daily or weekly consumption. It is easier to compare your consumption trends on a daily average basis than on a five minutes basis.
- Triggering an action on a per value basis creates dumb or annoying behaviors. You don’t need to post a tweet or send an email or sound an alert every time a single raw value posted by your device is above a certain threshold, because this means that you might end up sending tweets every few minutes which might be annoying and useless. It is much more efficient to trigger actions when a meaningful change occurs, for instance when your power consumption suddenly gets from 500 W to 1000 W. On Sen.se you can monitor the variation between two values, and trigger actions only when the variation gets to a given level. So you will post a tweet or sound an alarm when the power surge happens, but it will not repeat as long as your consumption is about 1000 W.
We believe that the role of an IOT platform is not just to be a pipe and a storage room with a window to look in. For us IOT is about creating meaningful experiences. Providing ways to transform, enrich, extract meaning from sensor and device data must be at the core of a platform on which to build the Internet of Things.