Bop: A pioneering smoke detector
Sept. 9, 2013
by Mark Ollig

What happens when our smoke detector goes off in the living room while we are away from home?

That’s right. Its high-pitched shrieking tone will just bounce off the interior walls with no one aware of the potential disaster.

One device our homes and businesses could use is an intelligent smoke alarm which sends us a text message alert whenever it goes off.

Marcus Schappi, an inventor from Sydney, Australia, answered the call and designed a “remote control for your smoke alarm.”

He recently demonstrated his new, intelligent, smoke detector.

It’s called the Bop Smoke Alarm.

It communicates with a user by way of an app (software application) downloaded to a person’s mobile device.

Schappi’s design was one of the award-winning apps selected during the Apps4Broadband competition, co-hosted by the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation, which is a “national research initiative connecting people to the benefits of broadband through innovative services.”

Apps4Broadband participants were invited to develop prototypes or working applications focusing on emerging technologies for delivering broadband services connected to homes in Australia.

On a recent video Schappi posted online, he demonstrated how the Bop Smoke Alarm works.

“This is the world’s smartest smoke alarm,” Schappi says at the start of the video.

The Bop Smoke Alarm, via its internal Wi-Fi circuitry, maintains a constant connection to a home or business’s broadband router or high-speed gateway.

The alarm’s “intelligence” actually comes from a remote cloud-server, whose software supports the features designed within the app.

Once a user downloads the Bop Smoke Alarm app onto their mobile device, several parameters can be set; such as the smoke alarm’s sensitivity.

For example, when you are at home cooking, and the Bop Smoke Alarm goes off, it can be programmed to delay activating an alert message, or the alarm can be silenced from your mobile device.

A person can program the Bop Smoke Alarm to not send out an alert SMS (Short Message Service) text message to your mobile device until a predetermined number of minutes have passed. The alert SMS message delay can be set for up to 10 minutes. A delay time can be used in order to avoid any false alarms (such as when the smoke alarm goes off while cooking).

Speaking of cooking, if the smoke alarm goes off while yours truly is cooking, you would see him frantically waving a dish towel in the direction of the ceiling smoke detector in a panicky effort to disperse the smoke enough to silence the alarm before someone comes knocking on his door.

Remote testing of the smoke alarm using the mobile device app can be accomplished, as well. This provides peace of mind in knowing the smoke detector is working properly when one is away from home or the office.

When the Bop Smoke Alarm detects smoke, its audible alarm goes off. Then, via its app programing in the data cloud, it will page your mobile device with an alert SMS message in order to see if you reply; it does this first to make sure you are personally OK.

However, if you do not respond to this message within two minutes (I assume this is the default setting), the Bop Smoke Alarm’s app will then call the telephone number you specified during its original setup programming.

The person receiving the phone call from the Bop Smoke Alarm program will hear: “This is an automated warning. Smoke has been detected at (address is given). The owner’s number is (the telephone number of the Bop Smoke Alarm’s home address or owner is given). This message will repeat three times.”

Schappi said the Bop Smoke Alarm “is provided as hardware and software as a service (SaaS).”

One does not need to worry about when to change out the Bop Smoke Alarm’s battery, as a text message will be sent whenever its battery power is low.

Batteries would be sent out for a user’s Bop Smoke Alarm whenever they are scheduled to be changed, Schappi added.

Reliable operation of the Bop Smoke Alarm requires:

• Broadband (high-speed Internet) connection.

• Always-on connection to the broadband.

• Constant reliability of the network.

The Bop Smoke Alarm, according to Schappi, supports “independent living,” and will notify family or care providers of any smoke alarms it detects.

He also pointed out that in Australia, 16 percent of the people living there are hearing- impaired, and the SMS information and alert messages sent by the Bop Smoke Alarm provides this percentage with a visual notification.

These messages and alerts can also be sent to smartwatches, which vibrate when receiving an incoming message.

Information logs kept by the Bop Smoke Alarm app include the most recent smoke alerts, and when they were acknowledged.

The Bop Smoke Alarm system is scheduled to become commercially available in Australia early 2014.

Plans for any US sales of this new smoke alarm system were not immediately known.

The Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation website is http://acbi.net.au.

To watch the online video showing Schappi demonstrating the Bop Smoke Alarm, go to http://tinyurl.com/bopalarm.

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