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British Gas Connected Homes reveals super smart household gadgets for its Honeycomb IoT platform

Margi Murphy | July 16, 2015
Get behind the scenes with the technology supporting Hive smart thermostats and British Gas' IoT platform.

Smart thermostat Nest Hive British Gas iot
Hive's brand new Active Heating thermostat has been redesigned ©British Gas Connected Homes

Hive, part of British Gas Connected Homes, is planning on opening a gateway to its new IoT platform called Honeycomb, enabling developers and third party device makers to integrate with its smart energy appliances, its CTO told Techworld.

British Gas acquired Honeycomb after it bought rival connected home firm AlertMe, which had been supplying the platform to British Gas Connected Homes for earlier versions of its Hive thermostat and supporting app.

Seb Chakraborty, chief technology officer at British Gas Connected Homes,believes the British Gas brand and popularity of its spin-off startup's thermostats will see more developers and partners working with its platform which give it adoption rates needed to dominate the IoT market.

He told Techworld: "I think that we have a great advantage as we are already in customer's homes and the more we can demonstrate what we are capable of, the more people will be interested. The IoT is complicated and every platform provider is jumping on the bandwagon and opening it up - saying 'developers come and play with us'. But what we are really focused on is the experience."

Door, window and motion sensors connected to your phone and camera

The company today announced a range of brand new smart home products that will hit shops in Autumn. These include a redesigned Hive Active Heating thermostat, a new range of app features allowing homeowners to switch on a 'holiday' mode and boost the temperature quickly if they have stayed up late, for example. It has also created smart plugs that allow users to control power from their phone - allowing them to switch off a hair straightener or hotpot remotely if needs be.

Motion, window and door sensors alert users to any movements in the home while they are out, and active lights react to movement, illuminating your hallway as you get in after a late night.

Perhaps most useful of all, it has developed a smart button that can kill your power if you are too lazy to get out of bed and switch the lights off.

But what makes these products truly smart is Honeycomb, and in the background, British Gas Connected Home's 150-strong tech team are creating the apps that stream the big data coming from the device sensors and turn it into useful insights for energy users.

Hosted in Amazon Web Services cloud to afford "scalability", the core platform is built in Java, and interacts with the JBM and Linux hub. It works through RabbitMQ, a messaging protocol that functions similarly to middleware. All the rich sensor data is collected in Apache Cassandra, an open-source NoSQL database.


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