Moving with the times

So I moved house over the weekend. It’s always a stressful and exhausting process. Packing things up, putting all your possessions in to a van, moving them somewhere (in this case a place on the first floor, which added the challenge of stairs) and then unpacking everything in the new place and spending the next couple of months trying to find everything.

I blogged back in March about how I was experimenting with NFC around the home and obviously with the move, I’m having to redeploy and recalibrate most of the tags I had dotted around, but it struck me that since my last move three years ago, things had become a little more connected.


The Van

Being a member of Zipcar, I hired one of their vans to help with the move. I figured that as the new place is under 0.5km from the old house, a small van and a few trips back-and-forth would be fine.  When picking up the van around 7:30am I found there were four Zipvans in the car park….sigh...which one is mine? Out comes the Android App and use of the ‘honk and flash me’ function. Bingo, a white van flashes it’s hazards and honks its horn at me. Admittedly I could have gone through and checked the registration number of my reservation against the four there, but why bother when you can 'honk and flash'?. Using the same digital key fob on my screen (see picture) I unlocked the van and was on the way. When you’re finished with the van/car and at the end of your reservation, you simply plug the physical key back in to a device in the glove box and use your smartphone again to lock it up. Simple and easy. Thank you Zipcar.

The Removers (me)

The connected van had already gotten my day off to a good start, but again unlike last time I moved, this time I was planning to keep a close eye on my own activity to see the sort of distance i was covering and effort i was putting in.

Typically at the end of a move you feel shattered. Your feet tell you that you’ve walked miles, the blisters and bruised on your hands and arms say that you’ve lifted thousands of boxes, but what’s the truth? Back in March I was very kindly given a Jawbone UP from the good people at Jawbone and ever since, I’ve been tracking my activity, sleep and (when I remember) my food. The targets I have for each day are the recommended 10,000 steps and eight hours sleep. I hit one of those more often than the other and i'll let you figure out which. 

Wearing the UP all day meant that when moving, I was able to track exactly how active I was being, how many steps I was taking, how many calories I was burning and the different levels of exertion.  All in all apparently my longest idle period was 15 minutes and I think that was when I was having dinner around 10pm. It turns out that even though my new house was 0.5 miles away from my old one, I ended up walking 21.57km during the day, notching up 25,650 steps along the way.


You can see the rough exertion in the bar chart, with the red bars deemed as intensive (the red bar around 6pm I think signifies lifting a corner sofa up a flight of stairs) but it would have been great to see some sort of elevation element built in so that I could track the vertical distance I’d travelled.

The UP is a fantastic piece of wearable tech and I find that It does actually remind me that I should perhaps take the stairs or walk somewhere just to get my steps up for the day or if i've been sitting still for too long, to get up and move around a bit. The gamification element really does work on me. Over the entire weekend (moving house on Friday and unpacking it all on Saturday and Sunday) I took 57,116 steps and burnt over 9,000 calories. For simply keeping track of movements and measuring calorie burn and getting you to think more about your daily activity, you’d be hard pushed to beat the UP.

The future?

All of this got me thinking yesterday about the other roles connected objects could play in this process and one thing in particular came to mind.

Boxes being able to measure how heavy they are to avoid being over-filled and over any recommended weight. Some of the boxes we were moving had definitely been packed over the 20kg maximum weight limit. You could scan the box with your smartphone and it could tell you just how heavy a box is before you attempt to lift it, if it’s over the recommended weight limit etc.

Personally i'm not going to fall for The Fail on Sunday's scaremongering about connected appliances and the fact that evil corporations will turn off all our fridges and freezers, spoiling our food to limit electricity. There are less contentious ways for those companies to save electricity. I'm looking forward to the point where my fridge relises i'm on holiday and so doesn't use excessive energy. That's the whole idea behind smart devices, they're smart. 

I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before this is a reality and I’ve already started the patent process for the boxes, but what other implementations can you think of around moving house? Maybe one day, it will be able to eliminate some of the cowboy estate agents out there?