A few weeks ago, People Power introduced a kit it calls SuRF, for Sensor Ultra-Radio Frequency, that helps connect household appliances and gadgets to a wireless network in your house. What that means is that you could monitor your microwave, Playstation and coffee machine in real time, check their levels of energy consumption, and make apps to control how they behave. Ultimately, that could lead to substantial savings of energy and money.
The $150 SuRF is a developer’s kit, which means you can’t simply buy it, plug it into your refrigerator, and start cutting your energy consumption in half: You have to connect it to your gadget or appliance and then build an app to make it work.
SuRF consists of two boards with long-range 900-MHz radios, powered by the Texas Instruments CC430 platform. “Lower frequencies let you penetrate walls and go much further than the standard 2.4-GHz frequency,” says David Moss, People Power’s director of device engineering.
He brings out two pairs of wireless network transmitters and receivers. One pair operates on 2.4 GHz, the frequency used in many wireless devices. The other are SuRF boards running at 900 MHz. We place one of each type in the room, and walk out to the front yard with the other two. The signal from the 2.4-GHz source dies out soon. SuRF is still blinking after almost a hundred feet.