Sense Blog

Follow the Breadcrumbs with Device Usage History

Along with the timeline and notifications, device usage history is an important tool to use in identifying unnamed devices in your home.

As we’ve talked about in previous articles, device detection can be tough. Even with our high resolution data sampling rate of 1 Mhz and advanced detection algorithms, our machine learning can sometimes use a little human help. In the process of detecting devices in your home, Sense may be able to recognize the type of device, like a heat element or motor, but need some help identifying exactly what this device is. Luckily we have an amazing community that can help take device detection to the next level.

Device usage history is one important tool to use in trying to put a name to an unnamed device. With device usage history, newly detected devices include the data that we used to detect them. This means when ‘Motor 1’ is detected, you have a set of clues ready to go to help solve the mystery and identify what the device is! From the moment it appears in your devices list, you will know the average run time, average consumption and more. When you’ve narrowed down what it may be, you can rename the unknown device, changing how it appears in your app and helping to improve device detection for the entire Sense community.


Types of unnamed devices – what could they be?

Device usage history in hand, kick off your detective work with a few examples of devices that might appear as unnamed:

Unnamed heat

Kitchen: Hot plate, electric kettle, toaster, coffee maker

Bathroom: Hair dryer, curling/flat iron, heat lamp

Bedroom: Electric blanket, waterbed, humidifier

Living room: Television

Any room: Space heater, baseboard heating, incandescent light

Utility: Dryer, hot water heater (electric)

Unnamed motor

Kitchen: Mixer, blender, coffee grinder, exhaust fan, dishwasher, garbage disposal

Bathroom: Ventilation fan

Bedroom: Fan, humidifier

Living room: Fan, or pump in a water fountain or fish tank

Any room: Vacuum

Utility: Washing machine, sump pump, HVAC, hot water heater (gas)

Note: any of the above could be a single component within a device. For example, most dryers have both a heating element to heat up the air and a motor element to tumble the clothes. As Sense continues to learn both about your house and devices in general, these may be combined and renamed by our intelligent modeling system.

Need help identifying an unknown device?

Now that you have some idea of what to look for, these strategies will help you get more information and zero in on your unnamed device in the Sense app.

Timeline Review: Scroll through your timeline to see when an unnamed device is firing. Is it at regular intervals? The same time of day each day? If your timeline is too crowded, temporarily remove some of the devices that appear frequently (ie. a fridge or furnace).

Device statistics: In the Devices view, you can select any individual device and see data about it like its Average Run Time, Usage this month, Trends across the past week, and a Power meter display for the past 24 hours. This is also the view where you can rename the device, enable alerts, and choose whether or not you want it displayed on your timeline.

Notifications: Navigate to the settings menu, select ‘Account’ and you will find a notifications settings page. There, you can enable alerts for new ‘Mystery devices.’ This will let you know when a new unnamed device is detected and allow you to kick start your detective work. The device’s screen also allow you to enable the notifications for a specific unnamed device. When you see a notification for it, stop and think – what may have just turned on? If you are not home, it might be something automatic, like your hot water heater. If you are home, did someone just manually start something? The dishwasher? A hair dryer?


Renaming a device

Once you’ve identified what an unnamed device may be, you can rename it by:


  1. Navigate to the device details screen. You can do this by either double-clicking on one of the device bubbles, selecting an event from your timeline, or selecting a device from the Devices list under the Menu.
  2. Click ‘Edit’ at the top right of the screen.
  3. Rename the device. If you think you know what an unnamed device is but aren’t totally sure, mark it as a ‘Guess’ by tapping the slider that appears for ‘This is a guess.’ This will automatically append a ‘?’ to the end of your device’s name and will inform our data science team how strongly to weigh your name edit when refining our algorithms. No matter how you enter the name, for the sake of our data scientists, try to use at least one standard device word or phrase (correct spelling is appreciated!). For example: change “Heat 2” to “Basement Dishwasher”, not to “Kenmore 1234” or “Magical dish device.”


While you’re at it…

  1. Click ‘Type’ to identify the device’s category and thereby change its icon.
  2. Help refine the device database even further by adding the ‘Make’ and ‘Model’ of your particular device.
  3. Add the location and additional information under the ‘My Notes’ section for your own information. That content does not inform the device detection algorithms.
  4. While your in the Device Edit Mode, you can also choose whether you’d like this device to appear on your timeline, or whether you’d like to receive notifications when the device turns on or off.