Ottobox is a self-learning home automation system


This smart outlet will cut your electric bill in half.


One thing we just love about the Maker Movement is that it continues to spur innovation and drive young entrepreneurs to build their own prototypes, pitch their own products, and ultimately, establish their own businesses — and if they are lucky, be backed on a crowdfunding site. Just ask our friends 14-year-old Quin Etnyre and college student Pamungkas Sumasta, both of whom were able to exceed their initial pledge goals in recent months. Hoping to join that list of up-and-comers is 18-year-old Ameer Sami, who has devised a plug-and-play home automation device that is capable of learning a homeowner’s schedule in a matter of two weeks and cutting their electric bill in half.

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The Ottobox accomplishes this feat by turning off appliances when they aren’t in use. This not only eliminates phantom electricity (which refers to the power devices draw when they are turned off but still plugged in), but reduces energy bills by up to 50%. Even better, there are no monthly fees.

Unfortunately, when a TV, printer, microwave and whatever other in-home appliances are plugged into the wall, they’re still consuming power — even when off. However, the Ottobox was designed to essentially act as a middleman between the outlet and the plug. How it works is pretty simple: First, a user downloads its accompanying app or accesses its web-based dashboard. From there, they plug any gizmo into the Ottobox and then insert the Ottobox into the wall outlet. What’s nice is that given its 1.5” x 1.5” x 4.25” size, the unit is compact enough to allow a user to fit two in a single outlet.

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Each Ottobox is equipped with two USB ports, Wi-Fi that connects to a home network and enables users to remotely control and monitor their house, Bluetooth Low Energy for tracking and activating devices, an LED indicator surrounding a three-pronged plug for visual notifications, as well as an energy efficient ARM-based microcontroller. What’s more, the startup’s patent-pending technology is even able to learn a family’s habits and then control the household’s electricity accordingly.

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As with countless other Maker projects, Sami began the prototyping process by employing an easy-to-use Arduino Uno (ATmega328) housed inside a 3D-printed enclosure before graduating to the ARM-based processor.

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The question is: Are you ready to start saving on your electric bill? If so, head over to Ottobox’s Kickstarter page, where Sami and his team are currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is expected to begin in December 2015 — just in time for the holiday season! And for those of you wondering, the system is available internationally as it supports 120V, 220V and 230V outlets.

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