Smarter Home Energy Use with Open Source and Cheap Sensors.
Project in progress by Andrew Jawitz
Make an Electricity Monitor for your home that utilises the cloud of the Arduino Yun, Temboo and Google Drive
Project tutorial by Anthony Kelly
Thanks for the pointer! Even though my ultimate solution is to ensure the network can accommodate both RF and WiFi sensors, I had been questioning how much longer the RF approach can remain relevant with wifi controllers getting cheaper and (more importantly) easier to program every day. However, I think the point you raise vindicates the multi-platform approach somewhat.
Also, I'm probably overgeneralizing here, but I do think the ESP has its limits as a pure microcontroller that can reliably convert analog inputs into digital values. In fact, the role for which it was originally designed was most comparable to that of NRF24L01, with the difference being in its use of wifi instead of RF. That the ESP v01 boards have the exact same footprint and voltage specifications as the NRF24 is perhaps the most obvious indication of its original purpose.
It would be like if somebody suddenly discovered that the NRF24 actually had 32bits of unused flash memory, and started connecting sensors to them directly. I highly doubt it would perform as well as an Arduino right off the bat...
Of course, subsequent versions of the ESP have been redesigned with components that make it more of a proper microcontroller. But its clear that its popularity is driven almost entirely by economics rather than its actual capabilities. Thats not to say that it won't carve out a permanent place in the IOT... After all, Arduino wasn't the best microcontroller when it first came out and it isnt today either. It nevertheless became THE standard maker tool out of its accessible programming environment. Now that the ESP can be programmed from the Arduino IDE, it has both accessibility and affordability going for it. The question remains however whether or not its actual potential will be limited by its hardware.
Ultimately IMHO, the most efficient approach to the IOT is in the method employed by the Arduino Yun. By combining an 8-bit MCU with a small MIPS CPU, you get a full Linux stack with OpenWRT and all the standard IO pins from an Arduino. Unfortunately, this efficiency does not extend to economics as the board is more than twice the cost of a Raspberry Pi and 10x the cost of an ESP!!! Hopefully, somebody will find a method of manufacturing an OpenWRT SOC as cheaply as they make the ESP. That will be truly disruptive!
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