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IoT and me: We’ve come a long way baby!

Back in 2015, I wrote a piece on DesignSpark where I looked at IoT and its uses beyond the novelty of boiling kettles or clever fridges, with my prototype open-source TRV, or, as I snappily named it, OpenTRV.

This smart TRV was the first of its kind and highlighted just how IoT can be valuable and integral to daily life and not a showy piece of tech to impress. As I said then, IoT will be truly successful when people stop noticing it, use-case by use-case, deployment by deployment, and no longer consider what it's doing to be 'IoT'. One day it will be dull and reliable, just like using a smartphone to read the BBC news.

The OpenTRV open source project aimed to do just that. We were creating a product that would work away in the background, helping to reduce carbon emissions and saving householders money on their energy bills. We wanted people to have ‘invisible’ IoT, just doing its thing and not making a fuss.

Jump forward a few years…

Since then, the OpenTRV project has transformed beyond recognition. Our TRV prototype went through various stages of development and testing to emerge as a viable product now known as Radbot. In 2018, we secured investment to bring Radbot to market and the commercial arm of OpenTRV became Vestemi.

In the same year, Radbot was launched to market as a product for both business and consumers. We now describe it as a smart heating control and it can save householders up to 30% on energy bills, by heating rooms only when you need them warm and reducing the temperature when you don’t, which, in turn, reduces energy consumption.

How it all began

And how did all this start? What drove me to create Radbot? Well, I worked in banking for many years, but in 2007 I had a personal epiphany where I felt that I could do something about carbon, climate change, and high energy bills. I didn’t want to be passive but actually do something about it.

Things took off when I led a meeting at the Department of Energy and Climate change in late 2012, which agreed with me that domestic space heating was one of the largest and lowest-hanging fruits for cutting climate emissions.

I knew I was on to something and got to work creating a smart mechanical TRV, as it was then known, and also started the OpenTRV project, which helped turn my initial thoughts into techie reality.

Radbot: The next phase

We are always working on improvements to Radbot, and although the OpenTRV reference code is still available, Radbot now contains a layer of improved and entirely new algorithms and hardware support to improve performance. This means we are able to continue product development for a more commercial market.

We definitely haven’t forgotten our open source IoT roots though! With Radbot, we wanted to create a product that householders could fit and forget. We wanted to put all the tech inside Radbot, so there would be no need for people to use apps or do any pre-programming. Back in 2015, we called this practical IoT. It still is now.

Despite launching in a competitive market, Radbot is proving to be a success. Trusted Reviews selected it as Best in Class for smart radiator valves and it also won Product of the Year at the National Energy Efficiency Awards. We’ve even had influential personal finance bloggers singing its praises.

Crowdfunding

Having secured initial funding to bring Radbot to market, we are now going through another investment round, and, in the spirit and ethos of our open source roots, we are crowdfunding with Seedrs. For anybody who’s run a crowdfunding campaign, you’ll know how fast these things move, so at the time of writing, we have hit 81% funding but hoping to hit 90% imminently.

It’s certainly been a journey, but it’s been well worth it, and I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without the people and businesses that have supported us along the way, such as RS. It’s incredible to have other people buy into my vision, and this has become really clear in our crowdfunding campaign.

Knowing that I’m doing my part to help reduce emissions in the UK is what drives me and continues to do so. Keep watching this space for more Radbot news and tech updates, there’s a lot more to come!

I am CTO, co-founder and inventor of Radbot.

18 Dec 2019, 16:56