Sense Blog
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Why is Sense Taking a While to Detect My Devices?

Wondering why you’ve still got a big “unknown” bubble floating around on your app? Here’s some insight into how we learn to recognize your devices, and why device detection takes some time.

Why does it take a while for Sense to detect devices and can I help?

One common question we get from users is “why does it take a while for Sense to find things in my house?”

It’s a good question. After all, if Sense knows what a microwave looks like, shouldn’t a “microwave” bubble pop up the first time a microwave turns on?

While we do now have good models for things like microwaves, fridges, dishwashers etc. (the list is always growing) it turns out that the Sense energy monitor needs to see many repetitions of a device working in your home before we can confidently model it.

This is for two reasons (using microwaves as an example):

  1. To model your microwave well enough, we need to learn the detailed electrical signatures of your specific microwave.  We have a general microwave model that is good enough for Sense to detect that a device in your home is likely a microwave, but it is not reliable enough to know with 100% certainty that its guess is accurate.
  2. Even once Sense has modeled your specific microwave, we still need to see enough other electrical occurrences in your home to be confident that it isn’t mistakenly identifying other devices as your microwave (for example, we wouldn’t want your washing machine to show up in your timeline as a microwave). Before Sense can reliably detect your microwave, it also needs to determine whether your house has more than one microwave, so they don’t merge together in your timeline into a single Franken-microwave, and instead show up as two separate appliances.

Another question we frequently receive from our early adopter Sense users whether you can help us “train” Sense.  We have looked at a variety of ways to do this (an early beta version of our Sense app even had a “teach me” mode) and we may reintroduce some of these training features in the future, or just figure out how to make Sense learn how to recognize devices faster on its own.

If you want to explore the “unknown” bubble yourself, you can find a time when your house is quiet, and walk around, turning devices on and off to see how the unknown bubble shrinks and grows, and what changes in your power meter.

For now, we believe it is better to take a little while to allow Sense to gather enough data about your home to reliably detect devices rather than provide information which may be wrong. Please share with us your views and feedback as we believe it is an important topic!