App makers winning on air quality, smoke alarms

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App makers winning on air quality, smoke alarms
Turn down the smoke alarm when cooking...

Predicting the future uses of ubiquitous internet.

An air quality monitoring system and smoke detector management application are among the winners of a national app competition run by the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI).

The winners were unveiled at a launch event in Sydney.

Apps in the Apps4Broadband competition were intended to showcase the opportunities that ubiquitous broadband connectivity would foster.

There were two winners in the smart appliance, security and energy category: Senograph and the Bop Smoke Alarm.

Senograph's system consists of a gas sensor and an app to analyse data readings from the device. Sensor readings are transmitted via either a 3G or wifi connection.

Application developer William Russell told iTnews the sensing device could currently gauge carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, temperature and humidity, although more capabilities were to be added.

Russell sees potential uses in home and small business environments, such as monitoring greenhouses and the air quality around mining & resources sites.

"We've considered having it near fracking sites so they can see if a leak occurs," he said.

Senograph isn't producing sensor devices yet. It is currently in a private beta with about 50 users, who are given access to enough information to build their own devices. They are also given access to the accompanying analytics app.

The other smart appliance category winner was the Bop Smoke Alarm, which consists of a wifi enabled smoke detector and an app to manage it.

Creator Marcus Schappi told iTnews the app is "essentially a remote control for your smoke alarm".

"Everybody needs a smoke alarm — by law we have to have them, but unfortunately there's been next to no innovation in the space for last 20 to 30 years," he said.

The app allows users to silence the alarm when it goes off and to place the alarm into a "reduced sensitivity" mode when cooking.

It can also warn users when the battery needs replacing or if smoke is detected while they are not at home (the app can also be set up to call local fire authorities directly).

The Bop system is expected to be commercially available in early 2014.

Other winners included an interactive tutoring platform called TutorBee, a home-based breathing exercise app and device for Cystic Fibrosis patients (Pepster), and a "second-screen" app to use while watching TV. (Pass the Popcorn).

ACBI is led by the CSIRO and also counts the involvement of NICTA and NBN Co, with financial support from the NSW and Tasmanian Governments.

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