Our automation approach might officially be called hierarchical distributed processing. It is distributed because many controllers with dedicated tasks all participate. It is hierarchical because like any orchestrated activity, it makes better music when a conductor can take the lead. More accurately (much like a concert where an orchestra conductor is the overseer but the accompanying choir may have its own director), our controller organization is quasi-hierarchical, in that many decisions can be made and executed at one of the middle levels without needing the involvement of the top-level overseer. Hang in there; it isn't as authoritarian as this may sound.
The lowest tier in this hierarchy is the grunt level, where sensors get coaxed into reporting what they know and where effectors get told what to do.
Some of this happens through endpoint Arduino deployment. Some of it happens through endpoint devices connected to Bluetooth Smart Mesh and interfaced through their bridge. The Ecovent hub also connects while reading and controlling its own endpoints. Similarly, the Synapse Wireless lighting control system is self-contained while able to converse with our higher-level controllers over Ethernet..
All of the controllers at the middle levels are Raspberry Pi Model 3 B. Some of their work involves aggregating data, some of it involves analyzing data, some of it involves making decisions based on data values, some of it involves commanding effectors as a result of those decisions and some of it involves selective reporting to the top level controller. or to its peers.
Consider the garage tasks. One Raspberry Pi controller can easily collect all the data on the garage spaces and make inferences about the cars that come and go from them. That same controller can also issue commands to the lighting controller, the garage door opener and the stop-here flashers. It can also initiate messages (we prefer e-mail) to occupants not currently home. These are not things that need to involve the higher levels.
The readings from the apron end of the driveway, from the front door sensors and from the surveillance camera pixel-shift alerts can aggregate in a second Raspberry Pi
The thermal map of the house requires a team of Raspberry Pi controllers. One needs to collect the data and organize it into a single map; it may or may not need the assistance of a second team member Raspberry Pi to analyze the thermal pixel values and adjacencies to tag the locations of adults, children, infants, pets and hot spots and create a second, more human-legible map that includes a stored floor plan of the house, as well as to indicate which rooms are vacant. One more Raspberry Pi to drive a presence-tagged thermal map display in the control center. One more to drive a thermal map digital sign display. And one to analyze the evenness of heating or cooling in each room and across the house. This is not exactly multiprocessing, more cooperative processing, or perhaps in another sense data mining.
The top level processor could never do its work if not for the information crunching happening at the middle levels. This is the level where the house recognizes the needs of its occupants and of the structure and adapts to meet those needs. For example, while the thermal map says where occupants are, this level determines where they are going and prepares those destinations.
The top level is also where the system gains the greatest ability to evolve. Middle levels, in a sense, know more than they think they do, and relationships among clusters of information can, through human insight, suggest new ways for the top level to work intelligently on our behalf.
© Copyright 2016 Newstips, Lord Martin Winston and J2J Corporation; all rights reserved
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