How to build an intelligent home operating system?
I still remember 1995, when it was still in vogue to “build your own computer”. A kid in my neighborhood had built one, and he was the coolest kid on the block. Back then, computers were primarily used by computer scientists who would buy the right devices (hard-drive, RAM, motherboard, fan,…), install an operating system, and use the computer for specialized purposes. I attempted to do so in 1995, and failed — I couldn’t figure out which device to put together, and how, within a meager budget. Today the median customer of a computer/laptop isn’t technically savvy but is still a heavy user who cannot live without their laptop. And they happily pay hundreds of dollars per month as amortized cost of laptop and software fees!
In 2015, my co-founder at Brain of Things (David Cheriton) and I discussed building a smart home. I went around to building one, buying all the smart home IoT devices and it was 1995 all over again — I couldn’t build a reliable smart home! Piecing together what are the right devices, figure out how to assemble them was a nightmare! I walked into my friend’s house in San Francisco who had a smart thermostat lying on the floor for over 5 months — “I bought it but couldn’t figure out how to get it to work”. My another friend was a big fan of colored lighting in his room, he kept shopping around, putting a bulb here and there, but still couldn’t get “romantic” lighting when he really needed it.
It became clear to us that smart IoT devices are only a pre-requisite for getting the smart home to work, and someone has to put the pieces together to deliver a “move-in ready” experience to the “median customer” (who isn’t technically-savvy but wants to use it). We needed to build an operating system (homeOS) and deliver the “move-in ready” experience to residents. This homeOS needed to be distributed, reliable and intelligent to be able to give such an experience. The level of reliability required in a smart home product was substantial — while a spacecraft on a re-supply mission needs to work for a few hours only (our Chief Architect worked at SpaceX before), a home needs to run 24/7 with the residents living inside them.
Now at Brain of Things, we are about to release our smart home product Caspar.AI. Caspar has already been serving several housing communities in California, and soon it will be serving several communities in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Japan, and others. Caspar is an intelligent assistant that uses our homeOS and provides a variety of services to the residents. More info about Caspar: http://caspar.ai
If you’d like to join our effort to make Caspar smarter, let me know!