Ambi Climate smartens up your air-conditioning
By Chong Jinn Xiung September 21, 2015
- A small crowdfunded device that gives your regular air condition unit smart capabilities
- Control your air condition unit remotely using your smartphone
With the haze currently polluting our air quality, it’s never been more crucial to close the windows and turn on the air-conditioner. Plus the hot and humid weather in tropical countries like Malaysia and Singapore means most people will flock to their climate-controlled rooms to escape the heat.
Sometimes however, they are met with other problems, as the air conditioning (AC) unit may be too cold and it gets just as uncomfortable moving between hot and cold temperatures.
Enter Ambi Climate, a solution from the team at Ambi Labs, a Hong Kong-based start-up.
Don't be fooled by its small size, the Ambi Climate is a powerful little device that can change the way you use your AC.
It basically allows you to control your AC via an app with your smart device such as your phone or tablet. In case you were wondering, it works with both iOS and Android devices.
Physically, the Ambi Climate is an unassuming piece of technology. It has a simple smooth white plastic white body with a black plastic dome on top that hides the infrared receivers. Around the back there is a USB port behind to power the device.
There are no buttons on the device which is slightly scary as there is literally no way you can interact with it save for a tiny recessed button that you can press with a pin or paper clip to reset the device.
Within the Ambi Climate it has different sensors that detect the temperature, humidity and even motion, so as to better evaluate if the room is at a comfortable temperature.
Using this data, the Ambi Climate uses its AI to self-learn what your preferred temperature is and adjusts the AC accordingly.
Getting the Ambi Climate set up was relatively simple, so simple in fact that the instructions are printed on the cardboard box that the product came shipped in.
For starters, connect the Ambi Climate to the provided micro USB charger, the same time you would use to charge your smartphone.
Though the Ambi Climate is said to be compatible with most AC units, we had an older AC unit that was not listed on the app as being supported.
Fortunately, our AC worked with Ambi Climate and thus we were able to conduct this review and Ambi Labs informed us it will be adding more AC models to its list of supported units.
If you want to control multiple AC units in your home, you will need to buy additional Ambi Climate units to install around the home as they have an operation range of 2 to 4m and require line of sight with the AC unit.
The app has a simplified interface that allows you to access the different modes, settings and switches between different devices if you happen to install multiple Ambi Climates around the house.
Within the mode settings there are four modes to choose from. There is the Comfort mode, a fully automatic mode that sets the Ambi Climate’s AI to learn the user’s preference over time and saves it to the cloud, so you can retrieve your profile when you log in on another device.
It also takes into account other variables including the outside temperature, weather and humidity in determining the optimum temperature.
Unfortunately we didn’t quite find the Comfort mode to be all that effective. We could hear the AC constantly beeping as the temperature was adjusted but after a while we still felt it was either too warm or chilly in the room.
It could be the AI needs a longer time to learn our pattern and preferences but that’s why we prefer to use the Temperature mode instead.
Within this mode, it will set the Ambi Climate’s AI to keep the room’s climate at it will regulate the AC to increase or decrease its power to keep the room at a set temperature.
We felt that this mode offered the best balance as it allowed us to set a preferred temperature while at the same time allowed the AI to control the AC and ensure that it was not too hot or cold.
Users who are often away from home will find the Away mode to be useful as it will help keep your room nice and cool so you can be comfortable when you get back home. In this mode, the AI will only power on the AC to lower the temperature when it detects that the room is too warm.
Modes aside, the best thing about the Ambi Climate that we liked is the ability to control our AC remotely. So even when we are on the way home, we can turn the AC on to cool the room down before we reach the front door.
With the weather always hot and humid all year round, and the haze from Indonesia hitting us during this time of the year, the Ambi Climate is just the kind of device you would probably want to have at home.
Easy to setup and use, the Ambi Climate works as advertised as a smart device that turns your existing AC into an intelligent thinking appliance so you don’t need to fork out extra cash for a new smart unit.
With a variety of different modes to choose from and a smart AI that learns your preferences, the Ambi Climate made the weather more bearable and comfortable in our home.
Our only complaint against the device is the AI does take some time to learn your preference, particularly in Comfort Mode, while it is learning you will be hearing the constant beeping of the AC unit, so you have to be patient with it.
According to Ambi Labs the device will be priced at US$144 (RM619 or S$204) during its pre-order period and retails at US$179 (RM770 or S$253) once the period ends. Sure it costs less than buying a brand new AC but the price alone would probably limit you to buying just one unit for your home.
A shame considering that it is extra useful if you could control multiple AC units around the home or office.
But if you have the cash to spare, the Ambi Climate is a good investment if you want a device that makes your home more comfortable, especially on a scorching hazy afternoon.
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