Ambi Labs has launched a new Kickstarter campaign to fund Ambi Climate 2, an award-winning Internet of Things (IoT) device. At its core, Ambi Climate is an air conditioner (AC) remote control unit. However being connected to the Cloud, offering smart services to you is made possible.
As with the previous Ambi Climate, the packaging for Ambi Climate 2 is simple and very much recyclable. Packed in a cardboard box, the unit fits snuggly within the packaging together with a USB cable and a power adaptor. There is no wasteful plastic wrapping wastage.
Setting up the Ambi Climate 2 unit is a breeze. Ambi Labs has an existing mobile app for both Android and iOS devices from the previous Kickstarter campaign. The app UX/UI has improved a lot since then.
Setting up for Ambi Climate 2 is similar to Ambi Climate 1:
- Set up the unit at a location in a room that is close to where you are usually at so that it can measure the same conditions you experience. Do not place Ambi Climate 2 near heat-emitting sources or in direct airflow of your AC unit. Make sure the unit is in the line of sight of the aircon unit.
- Connect to the unit’s own wifi network, which is named AmbiClimateXXX (Xs are random numbers). You key in your own wifi details to the unit so that your unit can connect to the Internet proper. If you have 2.4GHz and 5GHz wifi networks being broadcasted from your wifi router, it is recommended that you connect to the 2.4GHz network.
- The Ambi Climate 2 unit will then connect to Ambi Labs’ servers, and download firmware updates if necessary as well. The LED will change to teal when Ambi Climate has successfully connected to your network and the cloud.
- Name the location and room of where your unit is located. This is for easier identification of the various Ambi Climate units you have.
- You then select your remote control from a list of existing remote controls that Ambi Labs has already collated over the years of running Ambi Climate as a service. Ambi Climate 2 can connect to over 50 brands and 1000 models of remote-controlled ACs. If you are not able to find your remote in their list, a support request will usually resolve this issue pretty fast.
Additionally, there is assistive text in the app as well, which makes setting up easier for visually handicap users. The assistive text will be updated in time for Ambi Climate 2’s global rollout.
There are five modes Ambi Labs offers through the app:
Based on your prior inputs of how comfortable you feel – from freezing to hot – Ambi Labs runs an algorithm to set the temperature of the air the aircon unit is blowing to you. You giving more inputs will improve the algorithm. Soon, your complaints of freezing or hellish room temperature will be a thing of the past.
Set a temperature you want your room to be at. Ambi Climate 2 will send the appropriate settings to your AC to achieve and maintain the temperature.
The ‘Away’ mode basically maintains the temperature of the room at a higher temperature when you are away. This is particularly useful when you have to step out from the room for a short period of time to warrant a full shutdown of the aircon unit. It will allow your AC unit to then chill the room back to your comfort level when you return using a lower amount of energy.
Allows you to set your aircon unit manually.
Turns off the AC unit. What else were you expecting?
Since the initial launch of Ambi Climate 1, there are many upgrades to the entire Ambi Climate ecosystem. Some of the key ones are:
- Addition of Comfort mode
- Integration with IFTTT
- Completely revamped user experience for smartphone application
- Rule-based control, timers, schedules, user insights, etc
Just being an IoT device by itself, it is not easy to differentiate from similar offerings on the market. In addition to controlling your AC from your phone, there are smart, A.I. driven services as well. This can potentially save you money while providing you comfort that you want.
Following after the success of Ambi Climate 2, Ambi Labs will be rolling out multi-user geolocation feature and integration with Amazon Alexa. With multi-user geolocation feature, Ambi Climate will automatically switch on and off your AC based on your location. Voice controlling will be made possible through the integration with Amazon Alexa via IFTTT.
Afterthoughts and evaluation
As a long-time user of Ambi Climate 1 (the same unit we received for review), I have witnessed that Ambi Labs has been consistently listening to the community and responds to the community’s wants and needs. They didn’t just stop at offering a device but went on to introduce new features and improvements to existing services. The integration with IFTTT and subsequent introduction of official API access are an acknowledgement to the more techy segment of the community.
I did not encounter the issues I had with Ambi Climate 1 in Ambi Climate 2. The revamped smartphone app is intuitive. Setting up was a breeze. Ambi Climate controls almost every setting on your AC, from temperature to fan speed to louvres, automatically. And there is no downtime in service. The only constant meddling I have is the positioning of the device in the office.
Ambi Climate 2 is currently on Kickstarter at attractive reward levels. Its MSRP is set at US$129, a full US$50 lower than that of Ambi Climate 1’s. It will be available in retail stores in Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, United States and Macau. Its retail availability will expand from June 2017 onwards.