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Technology Today - January 2016 - Roost Smart Battery

By Robert Sanborn

One of the things that we saw at CES this year was a huge surge in the IOT, the Internet Of Things, and what that brought with it was a surge of connected things for your home. Corning had their day made of glass (see the YouTube video) and this year at CES took it several steps further by showing off samples of what it will be like. It was worth seeing.

One company there, Roost, has a new electronic replacement for the 9 volt battery you place in smoke detectors. Yes, these are the ones that once a year, you are supposed to go around the house and change all the batteries in. And of course, most people don’t. The concept sounds quite neat. Replace the battery with an electronic version of itself that will not only last five years but will also let you know when it is time to change it. I had to see for myself.


The package arrives and is quite handy and easy to get into. A very easy to open package that once inside, first tells you to get the app for your smartphone. It is a small app to download, mine from the Google Play Store.  Connecting the phone to the battery was pretty straight forward. It connects to your phone to allow you to enter the wifi connection passwords if needed, and steps you through as it connects to the phone and then to the wifi system.  When you insert the unit into the smoke detector, you get a notice on the smartphone Roost app and a tone to go with it. When you test the battery and the alarm goes off, it again sends the tone through the wifi to the cloud to the app in the phone and it is all done quite fast. And you are done.

Roost Battery

The battery is a special lithium ion battery that has the electronics on the bottom that turn it into a wifi device. The battery will last up to five years in most cases and at some point in the future, they will be connecting it to other cloud devices as well. For now, you can have it alert you or a family member or neighbor when the alarm goes off so is a terrific piece of mind for those with parents or friends living alone.  It will also alert you when the battery finally gives up after about five years and so when that happens, just replace the top portion of the battery from Roost and you are good to go.  It takes maybe five minutes to set it all up. Available at Amazon for $34.99.

As to downsides, some of the smoke detectors out there have two batteries installed in them and you need to figure out which one is to be swapped out. I took a wild guess and when I tested the detector after installation, I got the warning on my phone. Good guess? The other is that if things go the way they should, I hopefully will never hear anything at all for the next five years. That being the case, I will have swapped out my smartphone long before I do the battery. If so, why do I need an app sitting on my phone to do that? I suspect that when I get more devices like this plugged in, a centralized app that will monitor all of them will be what I want rather than having one for each device. Technology is marching on and it gives us much more to think about. As for Roost, I should get a few more for the rest of the units in the house.

More from CES later.

Robert Sanborn

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