Crownstone, the Smart Power Outlet That Uses Indoor Location

A Dutch startup called Dobots has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise €200,000 for Crownstone, a smart power outlet that uses Bluetooth Low Energy and a mobile app.

These power outlets do many things and interestingly several Crownstone can talk together and provide a small indoor geolocation infrastructure for your home. GPS Business News decided to learn more about it and interviewed with DoBots COO, Anne van Rossum.

GPS BN: Who is DoBots and what is Crownstone?

Anne van Rossum: DoBots is a spinoff of Almende, a research institute in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. DoBots specializes in artificial intelligence, for robots and home automation alike. "Do" in the name stands for actually doing things for people. We have a computer on every desk and in every pocket. We want computers to start actually doing things for us. Cleaning our floors, but also switching or lights and reducing our energy footprint.

The Crownstone is a smart power outlet. It is able to observe or behavior through how we use devices and allows our home to adapt to our needs. They can function as a very affordable 25 dollar wake-up light, and switch off energy-hungry devices like modems and tvs. However, their AI allows also to recognize situations. Your grandma who doesn’t come out of bed. Your electrical kettle without water. Your television that gets plugged out at night if your not around. Suspicious or dangerous situations that it recognizes because it is able to identify devices and learns your behavior.

GPS BN: You are using indoor location with Crownstone, what is the technology and what is the purpose?

AvR: Yes, indeed. Our background is in robotics so we are very familiar with a technique called SLAM, simultaneous localization and mapping. It allows a robot to position itself and build a map of so-called landmarks in its environment. In our case a human is the robot and it uses the Crownstones to pinpoint its location indoors. Moreover, because we use this state of the art method you do not need to tell the system where you have plugged in those Crownstones. By just walking around the location of your smart power outlets is inferred automatically. The system is learning all this on itself.

GPS BN: Thus far indoor location has been mostly used for public spaces, what potential do you see in the smart home?

AvR: Elderly need new tech like this the most. One of our applications puts Crownstones behind every light switch and device so we know where someone is without them needing to carry a smartphone, Fitbit, iBeacon, or anything with Bluetooth Low Energy. Hence, we know when not to call grandma. You don’t want her running out of the kitchen and trip!


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