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Remote Monitoring App Busts Teenager’s New Year’s Eve Party

A tech-savvy Australian dad catches wind of his daughter's house party through an app on his Android phone 500 miles away.

We always hear about how remote monitoring is great for being able to make sure your kids get home safely from school, because you can check camera footage or unlock doors for them via smartphones.

But if your clients have teenagers, you can sell them on remote monitoring by sharing the story of David Rowe. He used an energy monitoring app to find out his daughter was throwing a New Year's Eve party at their house when it was supposed to be vacant for the night.

Rowe, an Australian who's in the telco business and shares thoughts on technology and sustainable energy on his blog, recently posted about the New Year's Eve experience (via The Atlantic). It could easily be a scene straight out of an '80s movie, only updated for the 2010s.

Rowe was out of town and his kids were staying away from home somewhere else in their hometown of Adelaide. The self-proclaimed "power-geek" wanted to check on how the 100-degree weather was affecting the power consumption back home that day.

Using the Flukso metering app on his Android phone, Rowe noticed a spike that roughly corresponded with the usual wattage consumed by his air conditioner, which was not turned on because the house was supposedly empty.

So was it burglars who decided to keep themselves cool while casing the place? Of course not. Here are the highlights of Rowe's tale:

"I was fortunate to be at the restaurant with a couple of people expert in these situations. Teenagers. They suspected 'Party.' I was unsure. I called my beloved 16 year old daughter Amy to see if she 'knew' anything about this phantom power problem. My gut feel was to call my mother (Amy’s grandmother) and ask her to visit my home but I thought I’d give Amy the benefit of the doubt. Amy said that she was at a friends house but would go around and check my house. She was not keen on using her grandmother to resolve the issue. Exactly 30 minutes later I received a text from her saying the air con and TV was on but she had switched them off.

"By this stage half the restaurant (I was with a friend’s extended family) were crowded around my phone, watching the next development with excitement. My teenage brains-trust were calling 'Party' but there was no way to know for sure. Sure enough the power drops, down to about 180W. About what the fridge motor uses. However curiously, there was none of the regular fridge cycling on and off. It was as if all the lights were off in the house but the fridge motor was running all the time to cool or freeze something.

"I returned to Adelaide the next day (1 Jan). My home was very clean but I found a few tell-tale signs: disposable cups with sticky red liquid in them in one of the bins, a trace of the same red sticky stuff on my sink, and post it notes accidentally left on my fridge saying things like 'Molly, you may have to open up another bottle.'"

And here's some of the eyebrow-raising data Rowe captured on his phone: "The 24 hour plot below just was captured on (1 Jan) at 5:30pm, so it actually shows the tail end of the Dec 31 festivities. You can see the 1000W consumption until it shoots up around 1900 hours (7 p.m.), then the rapid, parentally-induced decline at around 2030 hours (8:30 p.m.) ... "


Rowe goes on to note that his daughter eventually fessed up and took the bust in good spirits, but that even one of her friends joked, "You gotta get dumber parents, Amy."

Now that's a story CE pros can share with prospective clients. Not only will remote monitoring give you peace of mind that your house isn't being burglarized, but you can throw a preemptive strike into your teenager's party plans.

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Article Topics

Blogs · Home Automation and Control · Energy Management · Android · Energy Management · Smartphone · All topics

About the Author

Arlen Schweiger
Arlen Schweiger is managing editor of CE Pro and Commercial Integrator magazines. Arlen contributes installation features, business profiles, manufacturer news and product reviews.


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