Smart homes stay dry thanks to a low-energy sensor system

By August 14, 2014
Wally Home sensors

Part of the general trend towards connected "smart" homes and the Smart City, WallyHome is a system of sensors designed to protect your home against water hazards and the structural consequences of damp.

Every time there is a water leak at a home in the United States, it costs the occupants on average $6,965 (€5,190). This is the figure quoted by Seattle, USA-based SNUPI Technologies, which has just come up with Wally, a detection system designed to spot water leaks or any major changes in humidity levels or temperature at your home. Rather similar to the Phone Alert Fire system developed by Alcatel, the Wally system works on the basis of embedded sensors plus wireless technology, which will trigger an alert whenever a problem arises. The main argument for purchasing and installing this type of system is that it will alert the occupant fast, enabling him/her to react in time to reduce the impact of any incident or even prevent it happening. In addition to forestalling any actual water or damp damage however, in the longer term home owners who install WallyHome may be able to benefit from lower insurance premiums.

No more worries over flooding

The complete kit comprises a base station and six sensors. It is relatively easy to install and seems a worthwhile investment, especially for second home owners who are not always in residence. Having created a user account and downloaded the mobile app on to your smartphone, you simply place the sensors close to your various household appliances or in hazard-prone spaces, name them according to their location in the house, and then activate the sensors with your phone. From then on, if one of the water detecting zones of the sensor – one on the horizontal part of the sensor and another on the vertical – detects moisture, this information will be transmitted to the base station and the user will immediately receive an alert on his/her smartphone. Apart from detecting water leaks, the sensors also measure humidity levels and note variations in temperature, displaying this information in real time, remotely and at a glance. The product is easy to use, and boasts a long active life.

10 years of battery-free autonomy

One key aspect which differentiates this very first SNUPI Technologies product from other alert systems is that it is free of the constraints of battery life. WallyHome arose from a research project run by the University of Washington called Sensor Nodes Utilizing Powerline Infrastructure, whose abbreviation, SNUPI, became the name of the company. The engineers set out in search of an alternative to the high power consuming WiFi and Bluetooth connections and found the answer in the electrical wiring in the walls of the home, which they use as a huge antenna network. As soon as the sensors are placed close to the basic household wiring network, they require very little power to communicate with the base station and the system will then run for an estimated period of ten years. There is also potential to exploit the SNUPI technology used for the humidity sensors in a similar way for other ‘connected’, ‘smart home’ systems. If the Wally system becomes more widespread, the data gathered could also be aggregated and used to develop generalised models as part of the Smart City movement.



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