back to article Sensors and sensibility: Quirky’s Spotter multi-purpose monitor module

It sounds such a good idea: a compact, battery powered general-purpose sensor pod you can stick pretty much anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi network you have access to, and which will ping you temperature, humidity, sound, light and movement info over the internet to your smartphone. Spotter Quirky’s Spotter: internet- …


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  1. Alister Silver badge

    I see no mention on their site of an API to allow you access the device with your own software.

    This seems a shame, as there are lots of ways I can think of using this, but I would rather tailor the software to control and access the device myself.

    1. moiety

      Paying to add another node to Wink's network does seem a little silly.

  2. ScaredyCat

    All the Sensors

    .. in all the world will be worthless when your internet connection dies, the 'service' provider for that product decides to no longer support it, goes bust, gets bored with it. etc

    The cloud is not the answer to these problems, the cloud is just a mechanism to tie you into a provider and keep you paying money.

  3. petur

    No thanks....

    "communication between the two always goes through a server"

    You lost me there.... was there anything else interesting in the article?

    I have seen enough devices that need a server run by the company go from nice tool to paperweight when said company went bust, got gobbled by a bigger player/rival, or simply wanted to force your hand into buying the newer generation.

    My devices will connect to my own server/cloud, thank you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No thanks....

      Was also tempted till I saw the server comment. Why not my server? Silly me, can't flog temperature, humidity, sound, light and movement info over the internet to anyone that wants to buy it. Well, hopefully not just anyone. Buy sensor, address and mobile phone info, correlate mobile location with light and movement information. Can't see any risks there.

      1. Cryo

        Re: No thanks....

        But if it doesn't go through their server, how are they supposed to record all your sound data, perform voice recognition on it and index the results for quick retrieval by interested parties? Without that, what good would this product be?

  4. handle

    Power requirements: 3.3 volts 0.6 ampere-hours?


  5. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge


    Like others I have concerns about command and control running through the cloud. That makes it a single point of failure risk and who knows how service will degrade should Electronic Imp product become ubiquitous.

    It is also not difficult to imagine what might happen to everyone who locks themselves in to a single service provider. The temptation to monetize that will be great, and even if the current providers don't intend to do that they can be made an offer they can't refuse by someone who will.

    How soon before it becomes a paid for service or two tier free and paid offering? Or committed users are forced into doing something they may not like simply to keep what they have invested in working? A buyout by Facebook, Twitter, Google or others could see people using the Imp forced into having accounts they may not want.

    Nice idea, shame about the implementation.

    1. AbelSoul

      Re: Lock-in

      > Nice idea, shame about the implementation.

      I see what you did there.

  6. Tom_

    Was briefly enthused...

    At first, I thought I could buy one of these and stick it on my home network and then be able to use my PC or Raspberry Pi to graph the sensor data over time.


    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: Was briefly enthused...

      If it did allow that, I'd buy a dozen of them right now. The hardware is just what I've been after, but the software needs a rethink.

    2. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Was briefly enthused...

      You can with the Imp dev kit (see review). Just set it up so your Pi or PC gets the data you need and produces the chart.

      The only issue is, of course, that it's all mediated by server, so no joy if your broadband goes down, or their servers do. Imp's major clients mean server outage isn't likely (but not impossible), but how many ISPs can you be sure will be operational 24x7x365?

      As for privacy, you can be too paranoid. Seriously, if someone's going to buy my home's temperature data, good luck to them. What are they going to do? Hit me with heating unit spam? Sorry guys, Amazon already does.

      1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

        Re: Was briefly enthused...

        Your point about it being pretty trivial personal data arguable. It is personal data and should be treated as such regardless of how trivial it my seem.

        The bigger issue is the loss of control. What if this thing flops and the servers get shut down in a couple of years? All perfectly working units sold are landfill and your investment both time and money is round the u-bend. Tell me Tony, what does having the internet server in the data path add to the product for me? I see what it adds for the vendor but I see no added value for the customer.

        I have 12 thermochrons and 3 hydrochrons around our property, I'd love to replace them with something wifi enabled to save me the chore of downloading every 21 days but it will not be with these.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        More relevant marketing information

        "As for privacy, you can be too paranoid. Seriously, if someone's going to buy my home's temperature data, good luck to them. What are they going to do? Hit me with heating unit spam? Sorry guys, Amazon already does."

        Most likely candidate for spam would be from GE flogging you more home automation and home electrical gizmos. Then probably power companies trying to get you to switch. Or double glazing companies trying to flog you home improvements. Followed by any other chancer who can get the data. They'll know your location, mobile number and when you're likely to be in.

        Unless the T&Cs have clear restrictions about data sharing, it's another one of those wonderful 'net ideas where you are the product. There's no real need for data collection to be cloud based and it makes the solution less useful as there's no local way to act on the sensor information.

  7. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    Hmm seems a bit gimmicky

    Might be cool to start with but getting a wink every time you sneese or close a door will get kind of annoying.

  8. Pahhh

    SMS When ..

    It would be good if it could SMS me when the internet is down.... oh... hold on....

    The Imp thing is ok but what a lot of us really want is all the Imp goodness but on a server hosted at home. Totally good if they the server syncs up with a cloud service .....

  9. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Command and Control...

    " I’ve put it to work measuring the level of moist air in one of my rooms, so I can tell the other half to switch the dehumidifier on - but its command and control app needs a much expanded range"

    Are you talking about the Spotter or the other half here?

    Maybe I misunderstood the bit about clouds, but if you have them in your room, then you really do have humidity problems!

  10. Sander van der Wal

    I propose a new proverb

    Fools and their privacy are easily parted.

  11. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Please think before you post

    It's a neat idea and soldering iron free for those that want that - which seems like everyone these days. It would be a piece of cake to knock the whole thing up with an Arduino and a few hours of code so quit bitching about the implementation and roll one yourselves.

    The point is that it's an IDEA - what you do with it is up to you but make no mistake, this is the future unless you still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

  12. Timo

    why not bypass the wink parts and go straight to the Imp?

    This looks like a service (wink or Quirky/whatever by GE) built on top of the Imp service? So what if you ditched the Quirky part and used Electric Imp directly instead?

    Would that give you more or less software service for your hardware?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another "Nothing" wireless device!

    I will get excited about this sort of product when it has some form of usefulness. With no output signals and and YET ANOTHER PROPIETARY COMM SYSTEM, there is no useful work that can be performed by this device.

    There are literally hundreds of wireless thermostat/humidistat/motion sensor products available today and this really does nothing to improve on those products. (And it's made by GE)

    The NEST thermostat does the same thing for temperature, COULD do all the other humidity, light & motion things and since it has industry standard outputs, it can actually control your furnace/boiler to do useful work.

    It ALSO can communicate with your home network via WiFi AND thus your phone can control it. NO SERVER REQUIRED!!!!! Also there is no integration or special software required since it has outputs.

    I do commercial and institutional Building Automation and this crap will eventually be sent to me by some "sustainability director" asking if we can somehow tie it to our building controls.

    The whole point of a control system is to make things work automatically and being on a wireless network and requiring an external cloud server are two major strikes against this product as applied to uptime and availability.

    The third strike is security and I will guarantee that they have little to none in their system.

    Yes, this is a great "idea" but it has been done way too many times before by better companies.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another "Nothing" wireless device!

      Think again - the nest control never happens locally - you talk to the API on nest's cloud servers, then they talk back to the thermostat.

      Plus, the imp does have security - it's TLS secured as noted in the review.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I stopped reading at...

    « communication between the two always goes through a server. You’ll need to set up a Wink account »

    I mean, seriously. :-/

  15. Simon Ward

    "You’ll need to set up a Wink account,"

    Instant fail, right there.

    This alone means that there'll be figure skating championships in Hell before this device, cool as it seems, will cross my threshold.

    When I can access the data using my own kit via an API, official or otherwise, then we'll talk.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    A potentially very interesting...

    multi mode trigger for any kind of booby trap.

    Just saying...

    The configuration protocol sounds like one that any mobile could generate, which is reasonable.

    But that business with a server. WTF?

  17. 2cent

    Open Source to the rescue?

    If open source products are driven into the market place, these products might open up a little to be competitive in the software form.

    I see that getting this information creates huge power industry advantages. Power Grid products, something GE is deeply involved with, could really use this data to create a "flexible" grid based in automated reactions derived from statistical analysis. Why they can't share the base data and control more directly with the end user is beyond me.

    It maybe possible to create your own computer-router, then strip/redirect/tee communications from these products, dependent on knowing the format of the data packet. Information can be forwarded to you via e-mail or text or server-at-home connection via browser/vnc to your phone.

    As with most of open-source, the parts are there, they just have to be assembled.

    Aaah, the things dreams are made of.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I always figured that 'quirky spotter' was a game you played while people-watching in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not better than the smaller guys

    I’ve been buying a bunch of these types of Home sensors networks things for the past year or so when they come up on Kickstarter. Like Twine, Smart Things, Knut, etc.

    Other than the really low price point it has nothing but bad reviews.. I expected more from a huge company like GE. I am probably going to stay away from this one for a little while.

    IMO, for the money, out of all the others I’ve played with.. so far I like Knut the best. We’ll see if any other name brand companies jump into into this industry. But so far the smaller guys have done a better job with the functionality.

  20. Oli 1

    They could have hit the mark with this, if it talked to ANY of the home automation systems already in place...

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