My personal opinion is that this is a great application of IoT technology.
This is an example of what I've been saying. Which is, thermometers which interface to some sort of Internet-connected hub, if not thermometers that are directly Internet connected, are nothing new. It's undoubtedly true that there is not one single Internet thermometer message or connectivity standard, but that doesn't mean you need one single standard all the way up to layer 7.
I'd say, this is a good example of use of the Internet, without having to even mention IoT. The I has ALWAYS been about connecting Ts.
These connected thermometers will have to be incredibly inexpensive if their target market is occupants of low-cost housing -- people on the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder who might be victims of slumlords -- who also, for that matter, are less likely to have an internet connection.
Agreed, fora single application like this there is no need for one single standard. It's only when you want to try combining devices to gain a synergy that standards become highly useful. They just make it easier to mix-and-match. For this application, that is not part of the requirements, and finding the lowest cost solution is more important.
I happen to like the term Internet of Things, to help distinguish the application space from the broader Internet (which for most people means computers and smartphones0 and from the more general group of "smart things" which may not have or use connectivity. Creating smart thing that must operate mostly autonomously and connects through the Internet is a different design problem from a computer (or peripheral) that connects to the Internet or a smart device that does not. Most of the differences are in the software, though. The same hardware can do essentially all of those.
AZ, I believe that they are inexpensive, but too I think that the Kickstarter campaign was set up to fund these devices being provided and installed for free. Yes, Internet connections are less likely in lower socioeconomic rungs, which is why the devices are designed to work with a hub, so there only needs to be one interent connection per building. Again, possibly subsidized.
@RichQ More cities are providing complimentary WiFi access these days. I think the challenge is to make lower cost thermostats that can communicate to any communication protocol that is IP-capable. It also makes sense to link fire / carbon monoxide detectors in that net.
Free urban WiFi access is a great thing for cities to do to support their citizens, but in this case the decision to go with another radio scheme was dictated in part by the power issue. The thermostats wake up and send messages only once a minute, and the batteries powering them need to last for several years. So, rather than pay the overhead and power penalties of WiFi, the designers went with a different connectivity option taht was less power-hungry.
We have a different problem up here in the winter: we have to maintain a temperature of 65F or be fined. Some tenants crank the thermostat up and then open windows to regulate the temperatures. When you don't pay directly for the heat, you tend to waste energy. One housing developement put cut-off switches in the windows, you open the window and the valve closes off the heat. Saved a few dollars in the long run.