Internet of Things hatched from Green Goose egg?
By Darren Quick
March 1, 2011
How many times when you were a kid complaining about doing something boring were you told to make a game of it? If your parents and teachers were anything like mine, probably quite a few. Looks like the folks behind Green Goose might have copped the same treatment – they have come up with a system that turns boring tasks like brushing your teeth and exercising into a game that awards the 'player' with lifestyle points for completing various everyday tasks, in much the same way as players earn experience points in role playing games.
Green Goose uses wireless sensors that can be attached to objects, such as a toothbrush, water bottle or bike, to detect when you perform a task you have set yourself and rewards you with lifestyle points. These sensors were originally only available as egg-shaped attachments tailored for specific uses, but have now been shrunk down to small stickers and credit-card sized devices that can be attached to just about anything.
The sensors, which are powered by a battery that lasts a year and have a range of over 250 ft (76 m), are capable of detecting things such as movement, temperature and sound and send their data wirelessly to a green egg-shaped base station that plugs into a free Ethernet port on a wireless router. The data is then sent over the Internet to the Green Goose servers to track your progress on tasks you've set yourself – or your kids.
Brian Krejcarek, the man behind Green Goose, sees the platform as a way to train kids to adopt healthy habits like brushing and flossing their teeth, drinking water or riding their bikes with parents able to motivate youngsters by offering real-world rewards for hitting lifestyle point targets.
The company was originally positioning the system as a tool for ecological and financial responsibility with its egg-shaped sensors designed to be attached to a bike, thermostat or showerhead to keep track of how much money a user saves by riding their bike instead of driving, keeping the air conditioning down or taking shorter showers.
However, the plan was always to extend the uses of the system and the company now seems to be focusing more on the health and lifestyle market. The company hopes the system will be further extended by developers building their own applications and has an API available (currently in draft form) that will let developers create custom applications that pull data from the Green Goose sensors.
The Green Goose system might sound a bit gimmicky with its tracking of mundane, everyday tasks but it is likely a taste of what the future holds in the form of the so-called 'Internet of Things', where just about all everyday objects, from toys to parking spaces and power meters to milk cartons are fitted with sensors and connected to the Internet all the time.
RFID tags are seen as the enabling technology for such a global network and as their numbers increase we'll no doubt see a flood of new applications similar to Green Goose becoming a part of our everyday lives. Green Goose could be a stepping-stone to just such a future reality and has already attracted quite a bit of interest – not to mention capital – to see it brought to market. Last month, at the Launch Conference in San Francisco where it was looking for partners, the company raised US$100,000 in funding
Green Goose plans to start taking pre-orders for the Green Goose Starter Kit in the next couple of months. The kit, which includes the base station, nine sticker sensors, a toothbrush sensor and a card pedometer retails for US$24.