You may have heard about the “internet of things”, but what is it? At it’s core, it’s the idea that we can collect a lot of data about various parts of our lives with simple little devices. (IoT also includes the ability for the devices to perform operations, but I’m mostly interested in the data side for this post.) All those datda points may seem insignificant if you look at a single source for a single day, but if you start looking at these data streams over years and combine them with dozens of other data feeds, you can learn some really interesting things.
My main frustration is that all of these different devices are silos of information. I can’t take information from my fitbit and combine it with my GPS data from my phone or data from my spinkler. Why would I? Who knows, but that’s kind of the point. If you can’t get at these data sets, your ability to learn from them is severely limited.
Thankfully a lot of these devices have APIs available. I’ve started writing little programs that pull the data down to my computer and then dump them all into a single database. Right now I have tables that show the weather each day, how long my sprinklers were on, and the weight reported by our WiFi scale. We’re upgrading to a WiFi thermostat soon so I hope to have another table that shows how long our furnace was running. I’m still trying to figure out the best way to get per-circuit monitoring and logging for my electrical panel too.
Some day we’ll have a great service that combines all of these things for us, but until then, I’m hoarding the data. It’s a fun data science distraction every now and then.