Sensor-o-rama Part 1: Considering the Z-Wave Alliance

So, I finally had to turn the heat on in my office yesterday and an unnaturally warm autumn here in New Jersey. And then, I promptly forgot to turn it down again when I shut down last night.

So, I finally had to turn the heat on in my office yesterday and an unnaturally warm autumn here in New Jersey. And then, I promptly forgot to turn it down again when I shut down last night. Yee-ouch.

That prompted me to start blogging about several conversations I’ve had over the past couple of weeks about different sensor technologies that could aid in the green movement. You could actually swap this first entry about the Z-Wave Alliance onto one of those information sites about home automation technology, because that really is, in essence, what it’s all about.

Z-Wave, which is championed by a company called Zensys, is a wireless mesh networking technology that enables different home automation devices to work together in concert. There are about 170 member companies that have agreed to support the protocol, including Lagotek, which was the company chosen to chat about the technology when I asked to know more about it. Lagotek’s products include controllers for lighting, irrigation systems and video monitoring.

“If you look at homes today, you will see walls covered with multiple devices: thermostats, switches, security keypads. To control all of this is extremely difficult,” says Ilya Billig, vice president of business development for Lagotek. “The goal of Z-Wave is to make sure that the devices work together.”

So, you could imagine a lighting controller that keeps track on how much sun is streaming in your windows and that adjusts the heat or lowers the shades at certain times when the natural heat is highest. Or a smart irrigation monitor that turns off your sprinklers when it’s wet enough or raining. You can set certain parameters for the system or control it proactively over the Internet.

The beauty of the technology is that it’s appropriate for both new homes or for retrofits, according to Billig. “We don’t have clever statistics, but from what we see, our customers can save up to 25 percent of their utility bill,” he notes.

Zensys and the alliance scored a nice boost in late October when they finalized a global distribution deal with Digi-Key, which distributes electronic components in more than 140 countries.

I can’t list all 170 companies or products here, but you can do some exploring yourself at this link.