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Trying the much-hyped Twine

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Twine is probably the geekiest of all the Internet of Things projects from Kickstarter – 8 of which I covered here. Twine is not for the ordinary folk. And it is expensive – with the full sensor kit [kit at the Twine + the Breakout Board, Magnetic Switch, and the Moisture Sensor] – it is for $199.95.

 

The looks are also geeky. And to get started you need a PC or Mac and has a WiFi Interface. I had ordered my Twine in December 2012, and finally started playing around with it this week – actually my first try was in January [then either it quit working on me or the batteries died, I never quite figured out what happened].

Setup:

You need a device or a computer with a browser to setup the Twine, and whatever you use is compatible with 802.11b WiFi. Setup can be confusing even though Twine on has simple enough instructions. The orientation of Twine is important – when setting up you have to place it with its back [where the instructions are written] facing up and then go to TwineSetup.com.

The first time when I tried it in January it worked for me easily enough. When I set it up yesterday all over again – I could not get the web page to show me the Wireless network to connect to [this is the screen with no wireless networks listed in the pull-down]. So I had to set it up using the other screens that they have for configuring the Twine. In the last step you need to create an account with the Twine website.

Once it is setup, all the information from your Twine can be accessed on to your web dashboard at twine.supermechanical.com.

Initial Thought

s:

While the Twine is interesting I find it bulky – the size of Twine is bigger because it uses WiFi as its connection and it needs two AAA-sized batteries. The upside of using WiFi is the controller to talk to the Web is not separate from the sensor. Twine is a controller and sensors all in one. The integrated sensing capabilities of the Twine are limited to Temperature, Orientation and Vibration. Vibration has been added recently since when I tried it in January it was missing. Enabling Vibration sensing to show on the Web Dashboard requires that you first setup a rule.

One more change Twine has made is to configure how often the Twine updates the status to the Web – the slower updates consume less power and can run on batteries longer.

Twine can be powered by a USB connection but that makes it impractical to be used in some situations. Twine has a rubber jacket that slides to insert the batteries. I found the insertion of batteries or removal to be a major pain – the rubber jacket is not easy to slide. I wish that Twine had a better industrial design.

Use Cases:

The website lists many suggested use cases – the challenge is that for each of these you would need a Twine – do the math at 125 a pop – the 18 use cases listed [and screen captured and stored on my Flickr account] would cost you almost $2250!

This is the reason I find Twine to be an impractical IoT platform.

I would mu

ch rather prefer using the Wireless Sensor tags that I covered in my earlier post. Mounting the Wireless Sensor tags on the door to sense door opening using motion is so much practical compared to mounting the Twine. [Take a look at this picture of the Twine and the Wireless Sensor Tags side by side.]

What I have tried out, and I like:

Because the Twine connects directly to the Internet, the updates reflected on the Web dashboard are fairly fast. I was impressed (after enabling the Vibration sensing through the Rules) at how fast the dashboard on the website showed the vibration measurement after I just tapped my finger on top of the Twine.

My home has become an experiment for Internet of Things, and one of my favorite tests is to put the controller or sensor inside my refrigerator and do temperature-sensing testing and also range testing. The Twine worked pretty well. The ambient temperature sensor on the Twine took about 30 minutes after placing it inside the refrigerator to adjust or show the temperature [of the

 refrigerator].

I also loved the packaging – it was nice, and the unboxing experience was fantastic.

The To-Do List:

I still have to try out the three sensors that I received. The sensors can be connected to the Twine via a connector and special cable provided. Of course – you can only have one connector at a time.

The power of Twine comes from being able to setup notifications that are delivered via email or text messages – that is next thing to be tried as well.

Bottomline:

My initial analysis – I would be opposed to using Twine for automating my home or connecting it to the Internet – the cost is high, the form-factor is bigger, and it also lacks smartphone or tablet apps. I will continue to review further and try to use it for different scenarios – maybe I will change my mind about it.

 

Twine on Flickr

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Written by Ashu Joshi

March 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm

One Response

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  1. I enjoyed reading your article on Twine and thought you might be interested in this app, http://www.mobileapps1.com/twine/

    Jim Bacus

    December 5, 2013 at 10:49 pm


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