There’s a wealth of additional sensors available for Android thanks in part to the inclusion of Bluetooth smart technology. We’re looking at the Tempo environment sensor from UK based BlueMaestro technologies makers of the wonderfully hi-tech Pacifi, a smart baby pacifier.
The Tempo monitors the basic range of temperature, humidity and barometric pressure perfect for gardeners, greenhouses, fridges, freezers or, as in my case, home breweries.
There are two parts to any Android sensor, the sensor itself, and the Android app that interfaces with it. The Tempo hardware is a small pebble of a thing, weighing only 200 grams and just 8cm wide. It fits easily in to your hand and wouldn’t look out of place in any garden or greenhouse. It’s powered by two AA batteries which BlueMaestro say should last easily over 6 months depending on how you configure the sensor.
Underneath the device you have three small screws holding the battery compartment in place and a small multi-function on/off button.
From a technical point of view the Tempo can operate in temperatures ranging from -25 Degrees C up to +75 Degrees C and pressures ranging from 5% to 95% relative. This puts it squarely in to the home enthusiast band and should be good for the majority of western homes. If you want something that can survive more extreme environments then this isn’t for you.
Temperatures and pressures can be logged at various intervals from 5 minutes up to 24 hours. With hourly logging the Tempo has enough internal storage to store data for around 30 days. Clearly the amount of time you can store data for reduces as the amount of data increases and with 15 minute checks the storage reduces down to about one week, and down to about 3 days if you are checking the temperature every 5 minutes. 3 days might not sound much, and it isn’t if 5 minute checks are important to you. In reality it’s unlikely you are going to want to check temperatures more frequently than every 15 minutes. As a result the tempo provides enough storage for most requirements.
Your day to day experience of the Tempo is going to be from within the Android app that BlueMaestro provides for free in the Play store.
The app makes viewing your captured data very straightforward. Data is presented clearly and is very easy to read. The live data from each sensor can be viewed in a dashboard with a clear display of the pressure, humidity and temperature. Stored data can be viewed as graphs or in table form. Data can also be exported to CSV so that you can bend it and shake it in any of the common spreadsheet or data handling tools.
The graphs are effective, if perhaps a little too functional. Whilst they work – it’s a graph right – and the data is valid they are clearly very functional and it would be good to see some flourishes. It would be good if they had some colour, some animation whilst being rendered, they could show average lines. You get the idea.
The app also allows you to make changes to a range of settings within each sensor as well as providing useful some tools. There’s a ‘find’ feature which makes the chosen sensor beep so that you can find it more easily. You can also calibrate each sensor and change alarm thresholds.
Each sensor also supports Apples iBeacon technology but in our review I couldn’t get this working as expected. Several Android iBeacon apps found the device but reported that it wasn’t a valid iBeacon though this may have more to do with our devices running Android and my set up of the iBeacon settings (of which I know nothing).
At £45 each (about $70) the Tempo is great value for money. BlueMaestro have chosen just the right position in the market. There are more advanced sensor based monitoring systems out there but they easily cost much more and may well be overkill for the requirements of your day-to-day hobbyist. There are also cheaper, more basic, weather station style units but these don’t offer the integration to your mobile device or the range of other features provided by the Tempo.
That’s not to say that the Tempo is perfect, but it’s a great unit and good value for money. We had some problems with the app but these were quickly sorted by their support and we’ve since had updates. It would be nice to see small things like a reminder from the app to download your Tempo data so that you don’t lose any if the sensor fills up. It’s also crying out for some kind of wifi Tempo hub which can do the BlueTooth data transfer from multiple sensors for me and then make the data available to my device via wifi or the cloud, and alert me of temperature changes.
BlueMaestro also have plans for a multi-sensor tag which includes light and movement sensors so we’re going to be hearing much more from them in the future.