Garden, cooking and tools that do stuff

Categories: IdeasPublished On: October 7th, 2018

The Problem

What other little problems could we solve with the nifty brain™ and in particular issues with the garden. This time all we really wanted to do was understand if there was any great benefit to home automation in the kitchen, garden and more.

The Solution

What we did

This month it was Curtis’ turn to travel down to the West country and work from down here. We are looking into managing my garden, some kitchen toys and of course adding more IoT functionality to the house.

One of my bug bears has been the lack of decent controls for a garden. I know that Hozelock produces their standard controller which is robust but is not remote controllable and is very large. Recently they launched their Cloud product and I thought, ‘Awesome, problems solved.’ I then read a little more and it could do much I wanted it required yet needed another hub to be attached to my router. Yet again I would have a single use hub fighting for access to my router with all the other hardware connected to it. On top of this, another bespoke app would be installed on my phone with all the support and updating I would need to keep an eye on.

So, we set out to see if there was a better way, one using open source software, off the shelf components and our nifty brain. Our first Nifty idea, would be one for the garden.

Competing for our time and work on this would be IoT things for the kitchen and experimenting with existing IoT products for the kitchen. So we have played with all sorts but keep coming back to the fact that many of them add the IoT functionality as a bolt on or as a marketing tool. Making them great for brochures and adverts but a little less useful in the real world. It is not just that you need another app and another hub to do what you would normally do by turning a button or pressing a switch but that the IoT side of things often made the kitchen gadget more not less time consuming.

The Current status

What we decided to focus on, was reporting. How much power did the various items use? When were they on, how long for and all the rest. So instead of it being a kitchen IoT bolt on, we looked at improving our reports, so that the Nifty brain™ delivered more than physical control, it gave the user intelligence they could use to better manage their house.


Since we did this Blog piece a number of new z wave items, sensors and bits of hardware have come out that we are looking at. A new blog piece will be posted as we try out the garden and watering sensors. Keep an eye out on how we pull it all together.



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