Getting the IoT to Talk to You. Easy Ways to Visualise Data
The Internet of Things (IoT) makes your life a lot easier. This doesn’t just refer to all these interconnected devices that take care of things so you no longer have to. There’s also plenty of information being captured in the process, creating a large knowledge base accessible by the latest data visualisation tools. For instance, this allows you to keep track of your health, your fitness, and energy usage in your home. Data visualisation also helps you step up the security of your property a notch or two. So, read on to learn how to use smart devices and services on our platform to achieve precisely that.
How to Set up and Use Data Viz Tools
Usually, it’s the manufacturer‘s app that tells you what type of information is collected by a smart device. However, as the complexity of your automation grows, you need to access more and more software. And with the amount of available information skyrocketing, keeping an eye on what’s going on requires more time and effort. Moreover, data storage involves physically different media, means cross-referencing and spotting overall trends isn’t getting any easier. This is where data visualisation tools come in that communicate information clearly and efficiently. At first glance, some of it may sound really complicated but at a closer look, it really isn’t.
For example, using dashboards on Conrad Connect is an easy and intuitive way to access information collected by your smart home system. And then there are Google Sheets that enable a more in-depth analysis based on time series charts and direct comparisons. However, if you are more of a spare-me-the-details-get-to-the-gist-of-it person, LaMetric Time displays should be right down your alley. Whichever you opt for, all three of them are supported by our platform.
Data Visualisation Using Dashboards
Dashboards have been around for decades, being used in cars, trains, airplanes and almost any other sort of transport. The Internet of Things adopts the same concept, enabling you to visualise data collected by smart devices and services interconnected via our platform.
The information is displayed in little windows called widgets that can be personalised. This blog post shows you how to set up and customise dashboards. However, below five pointers to help you get to grips with it if you are just starting out.
Make the most of our customisable dashboard page, setting up one or multiple widgets for as many different areas and topics as you need. After all, it’s your dashboard. Means you call the shots.
Share the entire dashboard or individual widgets with family or friends by sending them a link. And here’s the kicker: they don’t need to subscribe to Conrad Connect. Moreover, you can revoke access at any time.
Lock dashboards, for example, when screening data on a TV set or a display put up at the office or in a public place. This option comes in handy if everyone needs to be able to view the data whilst the relevant smart devices are centrally managed by designated IT or building staff.
Use different widget colours for topics. This helps people discern and process information faster.
Expand your data centre by subscribing to premium services whenever you are running out of space. Set up three additional dashboards and use a total of 30 widgets across all four of them. And if you want to visualise data using time series displays that go back more than three months, just extend the time span to 12 months.
Data Visualisation Using Google Sheets
Spreadsheets are used by scientists and engineers on a daily basis. And who could have foreseen that cloud services like Google Sheets would become instrumental for web-based automation and analysis? This blog post tells you how to sync your Google account with our platform, in order to use Google Sheets in your Smart Home projects.
However, if you are keen to get started right away, why not check out the ready-to-use automation templates created and shared by members of our community? Below a small selection of what’s available.
Google Sheets: Fitness
These days, activity trackers have become a staple of everyone loving their sports. And there is nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition, even if your training partners are using a product from a different brand.
This template is centred around a Google spreadsheet auto-populated with activity data of all participants. Means everyone can check how they are doing at the moment, and on whether they might need to do a bit more to keep up with everyone else. The project is already set up for trackers from Fitbit and Garmin, however, allows you to manually add fitness products from Polar and Withings (fka Nokia). If you plan to swap your current tracker for a new one from a different brand but don’t want to lose whatever fitness data you’ve recorded so far, then archive them using this project. The template has been originally created for Fitbit trackers. However, all it takes is a couple of mouse clicks to set it up for any other brand.
Google Sheets: Health and Wellness
In the long term, a lack of exercise, low air quality and being exposed to noisy surroundings will take its toll on your health.
This Conrad connect project uses data collected by noise detectors, air quality sensors and your activity tracker to compile a spreadsheet that helps you identify and combat the impacts of an unhealthy environment. Whilst readings of activity trackers, body analysers and other types of smart health products cannot replace a medical carried out by a health professional, they can make your GP’s life a bit easier. This project, as well as this one, create a time series chart of both your heart rate and blood pressure. Means either pass it on to your GP as it is or enable her or him to access it online.
Google Sheets: Air Conditioning and Weather
If you like your gardening and chilling out alfresco thereafter, one thing you don’t want is freak weather spoiling the rewards of your horticultural efforts.
Nose-diving temperatures and strong fluctuations in air humidity may seriously harm your plants. And you might not even notice it. Always best to use sensors to automatically monitor and log all relevant indicators. This project records the outdoor temperature. And this routine logs both temperature and RH. On the other hand, this project makes monitoring indoor temperature an easy and straightforward process. Pretty handy if you want to assess whether the wall insulation of your place is up to scratch, or if it’s warm enough for granny, your pets or the newest member of the family.
Google Sheets: Security and Energy Metering
Keeping an eye on what’s happening with windows and doors is always a good start when coming up with a security strategy to protect your home. This project triggers both an email notification and a spreadsheet entry whenever you leave home with one of the windows still being open. This one also incorporates an alarm function in the case everyone has left the premises.
Moreover, data visualisation also helps you pinpoint appliances that turn out to be massive energy guzzlers, also telling you precisely when consumption tends to peak. This and this project are both centred around Homematic IP products. If you got a Fresh Energy smart meter, use this template to visualise daily usage, and this one for monthly energy consumption.
Data Visualisation Using LaMetricTime
Not really interested in poring over elaborated time series charts and in-depth analyses? Want to keep things simple and relevant by displaying out-of-the-ordinary events only. Enter LaMetric Time that allows you to do just that. And in real time, too.
It might look like any other ordinary digital radio alarm clock but is anything but. This smart little IoT gadget comes with an interactive graphics display that shows you basically anything and everything you want it to show. The number of people following you on Facebook, the latest sales numbers of your online shop, you name it.
Considering the current heat wave, LaMetric Time comes in handy if you want to keep an eye on the temperature both inside and outside your home. This project reminds you to water the plants. And this oneuses Tado thermostats and Mobile Alert weather stations (also works with temperature sensors from other brands, by the way) to display the temperature in individual rooms in the form of scrolling text on the LaMetric Time screen.
Actually, if you select the Maker Aktor option in Conrad Connect’s project editor there isn’t really any information this interconnected radio alarm clock cannot visualise. All that’s required is your chosen data sources possessing an interface that supports HTTP web requests. Which makes data visualisation via LaMetric Time on our platform as versatile as it gets.
The bottom line is that data visualisation tools help you get the most out of your smart home or office automation system. After all, it never hurts to know more. Have fun!