1. Hardware end-of-developement
Multi-zoned Electric heating
Starting with the current setup (one gateway, one thermostat, one electric boiler module), one additional module will be attached to every electric heater that the customer wants to individually control. Each electric heater will be controlled with the pilot wire protocol. The user will be able to select on each heater the desired temperature on the electrical heater knob, and remotely define the heating program for each room through the website interface. Each wireless module will have a microphone for presence detection.
Prototyping electric pilot wire module
Prototyping electrical pilot wire module. Starting from the current dry contact relay based heater module, we will design a module able to control individual electrical heaters with the pilot wire protocol. The design comprises the PCB Design and DfX and our team will be supported by Lacroix.
Association of many modules to the same thermostat
The embedded software and high-level protocol for communication between Qivivo devices will be modified to allow for the association of several electric heater modules to the same thermostat. The association process will remain the same for the user: get the thermostat close to the new heater module and touch the thermostat to wake it up; the RSSI - radio signal - threshold will validate the association.
We will modify the embedded software in order to allow for the communication of the different modules with the thermostat and the gateway. We will work with the RPL protocol to ensure that every module can communicate with the servers.
2. Software upgrade
Prototyping electric pilot wire module
We will implement the new HW features into our algorithms. Qivivo’s algorithms responsible for the learning capabilities of the thermostat will be upgraded with the multi-zoned measurements and the data obtained by the humidity sensor recently incorporated. Furthermore the visualization interfaces (QiDiag/QiRenov) will be refurbished to better fit the needs of the end users. A SaaS platform will be offered for public housing agencies and an optimization of the code and databases will be performed to improve the time response of the system.
Multi-zoned control algorithms
We will develop a multi-zoned model based on our current single zone model (RC). Each zone has its own inertia and there is as well a thermal resistance between each zone, and it remains also the global characteristics of the dwelling. We will begin the tests by running this model in Matlab Simulink and compare the results obtained with real measurements to teach the system and refine it, as we previously did for the one-zoned management.
3. Implementation - Pilot testing
We need to test, calibrate and validate the new features of the thermostat. As our developments are in line with two different kind of end-users we have also programmed the pilot testing activities in line with these two collectives.
On one hand we need to validate the additional savings reported by means of our innovative multi-zone heating management. Also the new Qidiag and Qirenov platforms should be assessed. Finally the acceptance and performance of our SaaS platform will me also monitored.
Pilot testing in public buildings
Together with our current partners in the public real estate sector (Podeliha, Nantes Habitat, Crédit Agricole Immobilier) we will install up to 100 thermostats with the corresponding multi-zoned HW (either the electric wireless module or the radiator valve. Following the same strategy as in the last test periods we will choose two identical buildings with similar occupancies and equip one with Qivivo thermostat while using the other building for comparison.
Pilot testing of new SW with private end users
The re-design of our platforms delivering the information to end users has been conceived as an iterative process. Therefore we will release a beta version (M9) and thanks to a benefit program (free subscription) we will gather the feedback of the end users through an on line survey. Currently we do the follow up is thanks to a Zendesk platform where all emails and phone calls are registered. However to facilitate the communication we plan to launch an on line questionnaire to validate the following aspects: satisfaction with new product (smart valve), increase of savings, performance of the autonomous heating management, feeling of comfort, etc. The tools available at SurveyMonkey® are the best option for this task.
Validation with our professional installers
In the B2B2C channel our direct customers are the plumbers installing the thermostat (such as Cedeo) or the boiler manufacturer in charge of maintenance and renovation (such as Chappée). Some of the points to be assessed with the are:
- Facility of installation thanks to the 100 thermostats installed during the pilot testing we will directly get their feedback regarding the installation.
- Validity of the thermal diagnosis thanks to our algorithms we can evaluate the weak points of an apartment influencing the most the heating performance. Together with our network of artisans we can validate that diagnosis.
- Increase of renovation works the most attractive feature for our artisans is the fact that each thermostat installed is a promised for future work. We will monitor the renovation works started by our customers thanks to our QiDiag/QiRenov platforms. In a near future, with a higher number of clients we plan to perform a real comparison by equipping some clients with QiDiag/QiRenov and others not.