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Bernard Sampson





Renting with bills included puts landlords at risk of massive energy bills. We look at how The Genius Hub allows landlords to stay in control of their tenants’ energy use. The challenge: It’s a dilemma that will be familiar to any landlord. An increasing number of tenants prefer to rent with bills included, to allow more certainty about their monthly spending. This puts landlords in a difficult situation, because although they’d like their tenants to be comfortable, the tenants have no incentive to turn the heating off when it’s not required.

With student tenants, there are a couple of months each year (during Christmas and Easter breaks) that the properties are empty, and only need to be heated to protect from frost. Even if only some of the students are away or out at University, there’s no need to heat empty bedrooms – but tenants never remember to turn their radiator off before they leave.

How can The Genius Hub help landlords?
All smart thermostats are great for allowing landlords to remotely switch off the heating when properties are empty, and some systems even allow you to control each radiator individually. The Genius Hub allows you to do both, but with the unique advantage that it uses Smart Sensors to learn when each room is normally used, and schedule the heating automatically. 

That’s particularly important for landlords, because it means you don’t need to know the schedules of each of your tenants in order to figure out when the heating is required: The Genius Hub works it out for you.

Even if your tenants deviate from their normal schedule, The Genius Hub won’t leave them in the cold; it will automatically begin heating that room when their presence is detected. The Genius Hub also makes it easy to see the temperature in each room of the house, so you can even spot when your tenants are using expensive electric heaters. It will even shut the radiator off automatically if your tenant leaves a window or door open.

 Why did Bernard choose The Genius Hub?
Bernard’s houses previously had a 7 day programmer timer that was in a locked box in the kitchen. “It’s a simple solution that at least means the heating isn’t on all the time, but it’s difficult to know what times to set when each of the tenants have different schedules. You end up heating the whole house almost all the time, because somebody might be home.

I looked online at lots of different heating controls, but The Genius Hub is the only one that can learn when each room is being used.

That really helps, because then I don’t need to know the schedule of each student, it just sets itself automatically. “You have to make quite an outlay initially for all the valves and sensors, but it seemed worth it for the peace of mind of being able to see the temperatures and know that I’m not paying for the tenants to walk around in shorts and T-shirts, leaving the windows open or heating empty rooms.

Initially, I just installed it in 2 of my properties, to see how it performed in reality.” He adds that Genius Hub are a “pleasure to work with” and have been “very communicative throughout the whole process”. 

The system is monitored and controlled online, but Jack tells us he prefers using the app on his phone, as “it’s so easy to use”.  He goes on to explain he was in London one afternoon and realised there was a small number of rooms in use at the hotel that evening, and he could “turn the rest of the rooms down from there” adding “it was great!”

HMO Insitu

Has The Genius Hub helped?
Bernard’s had the system installed in two of his properties for a couple of years so far, and his impressions have been good. “It’s been very reliable, which is the most important thing – you don’t want to have to deal with grumpy cold students or have to keep visiting the properties to fix something! 

The only thing I have to do is occasionally change the batteries, really. But when there have been any issues, the customer service has been really excellent. 

Genius Hub resolve problems really quickly and are always easy to get in touch with them and speak to somebody knowledgeable. They’re also happy to speak directly with the tenants, which is such a relief after playing piggy-in-the-middle with Internet providers etc.!

The Genius Hub also lets me log in remotely from my laptop or phone and turn off the heating when they leave on holiday, which saves me making a trip to each property.”

Has The Genius Hub delivered energy savings?
“In the first year, I wasn’t sure whether the automatic mode would cope with the students’ erratic schedules so I just set up timers for each room. That save 16% energy compared to the previous year. But in the second year, I swapped it into the automatic ‘footprint mode’ and last winter it saved me 22%. Not bad – but still, it’s more for the peace of mind that I won’t suddenly get a massive gas bill.”

Overall, Bernard is very positive about how The Genius Hub is working for him as a landlord. “Would I recommend The Genius Hub? Well I’ve just bought 7 more systems for my other properties, so I guess that speaks for itself! I’ve also mentioned it to a few other landlords and one of them went on to buy 10 systems. I think a lot of landlords would really appreciate The Genius Hub, they just don’t know that something like that exists. I’d strongly recommend it to any landlord that’s renting properties with bills included.”

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Cutting through the jargon: IoT explained


IoT, smart cities, home automation, IFTTT. What on earth does it all mean? How do we make sense of it and why should it matter to us? With these questions in the forefront of the discussion, join me as I cut through the smoke and mirrors and demystify the realm of connected technologies.

IoT –  Internet of Things

Lost things IoT

In fact, having come across this article you’re already ahead of the game. The term “Internet of Things” (IoT) has passed by 90% of us, according to a recent poll carried out in the US.

A quick search on Google Trends suggests that the term only began to enter into mainstream lexicon in mid 2014 – just over a year ago – and barely surfacing at that. Yet the chances are that IoT is probably already part of your life without you even knowing it.

The the term “Internet of Things” was coined during a presentation in July 1999, when technology pioneer Kevin Ashton envisioned a new era of interconnected items, as the logical next step beyond the computer, internet and mobile phone. Let’s delve a little deeper.

What is IoT?

The bottom line, in the words of Dave Evans, co-founder of IoT startup Stringify, is that “with IoT, we can literally connect anything to anything”. ‘Things’, or objects are connected to a digital network that can measure, calculate and learn in order to help us monitor and manage our lives, thereby increasing efficiency and preventing potential problems.

Here’s a scenario: the commute home.

It’s 5:30pm and you’re released from work. From your smartphone you’ve set the laundry cycle to start at 4:30pm so that it’s done by the time you enter the door and you don’t end up with smelly, stagnating laundry. You search your pockets for you car keys, panic for a second before remembering that your key tracker will locate the keys quicker than it took to lose them. As you set off, your sat nav app notices heavy congestion on the A56 and decides the quickest alternative route home. This is connected to an app that tells the oven to preheat 10 minutes before your tyres hit the driveway. You enter into a warmed house because your smart thermostat’s ‘footprint mode’ has learnt your routine and prewarmed the downstairs accordingly.

Our lives are being swept with a wave of interconnected devices that make our lives easier. You can now do your chores on the go – or not at all. But the scope of IoT goes much further when we realise that it will impact not only the lives of homeowners but the planet as a whole.

Lost things IoT

Heat Genius is part of the Internet of Things because we connect heating systems to an app that gives you control over your heating system via mobiles, laptops or tablets, even thousands of miles from home. By reducing your home’s energy consumption, you’re also making it easier to switch our society to clean energy.

IoT is data driven, and this data gives a voice not only to inanimate objects but humans and nature itself. Most smartphones come with apps that use GPS to track your levels of activity: steps taken, workouts and location. That’s IoT. Sat navs: IoT. We can use the Internet of Things to control the quality of water, the supply chain, to monitor a baby’s breathing, optimise irrigation in golf courses, detect intruders and notify the police, detect gone off milk and order more.


IoT to detect old milk? Whatever happened to using your nose?

I’ll give you that. Just like ‘Hair in a Can’ or Smellyvision,  there are some inventions that should be nipped in the bud before they become an embarrassment. However, there’s a real chance that IoT could enable us to do a complete 180 and address some issues that, by their very nature, require a whole rethinking of the future.

Farming IoT Agriculture

What’s the future of IoT?

As the world tries to respond to the challenges of an increasingly unstable climate, IoT presents multiple solutions to the agriculture and food industry. For example, farmers and gardeners in dry regions can connect moisture sensors in the soil to their sprinkler system, controlling water usage and monitoring how much water they’ve saved.
IoT is still in a state of radical experimentation. And this will continue as long as radical technologies continue to be developed that respond to modern day challenges, and we envision ways of tightening efficiencies between humans, the products we consume and the services that enable that. There is no doubt that IoT will change the face of the future.


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6 High Tech Hotels


With the likes of Airbnb, taxi hotels and other alternatives gaining traction in the hospitality market, some hotels have turned to technology to give them a step up in the industry. Whether you prefer the comforts of home or relish the opportunity to indulge your inner geek, these hotels are equipped with an array of intriguing gadgets that will make you never want to leave the room. From retina scanners to nail-polish dryers, we’ve chosen our favourite high tech hotels.

Blow up hotel lobby Poznan


Best for… Security

Yotel, New York

Don’t be fooled by the tacky exterior and lighting scheme – this futuristic hotel is pushing the boundaries in all senses. After checking in a self-service kiosk, watch YOBOT, the 15-foot robot concierge, spring into action as it organises and securely stores your luggage away. When not in slumber, the motorised beds fold away so you finally have enough floor space to do that 5,000 piece puzzle you’ve always wanted.

Yobot concierge robot


Nine Zero Hotel, Boston

The unique entry system is bound to win you over at downtown Nine Zero. They’ve recently introduced iris scans to regulate access to their ‘presidential suite’, which has indeed been called upon by former president Bill Clinton. With general manager Jimmy Hord claiming 100% accuracy, the scanners also control the comings and goings at the employee entrance.


Best for… Excess

The Peninsula Hotel, Tokyo

Whether for work, rest or play, this tech-loving hotel won’t leave you short of ways to occupy your time. The Deluxe Suite is kitted out with an executive workspace and VOIP technology, radio with over 3,000 music stations and 42 inch plasma screen television. For ultimate comfort, a mood lighting pad, blackout screen, temperature and humidity controls and, as should go without saying, a nail polish dryer. Guests can also book a hotel package which includes a digitally interactive, augmented reality Pokémon treasure hunt. We’re told this is strictly “for children”… and beg to differ!

Hotel Pokemon Augmented Reality


Best for… Budgeters

hub, by Premier Inn, London

Even budget chain Premier Inn have bought into the digital revolution with their high tech ‘hub’ hotels. And like Genius Hub, they show that sustainability doesn’t have to cost the earth. For £69 you get a room in a Covent Garden location, an app that allows guests to remotely control lighting and temperature, change television channels and order breakfast.

Hub Premier Inn Room


Having achieved the “highest ever sustainability rating for a UK hotel,” the hub is equipped with energy saving technologies that drive efficiencies and lower expenditure. It’s great to see a budget chain proving that innovation, technology and sustainability work hand in hand. With several more installments to be rolled out across London and Edinburgh, the hub’s “space-efficient and digitally savvy” concept could be the next big thing for budget hotels.


Best for… Wayfarers

Eventi, New York

Perfect for those who like to travel light or simply forgot to pack. If you left your phone charger at home or are in the mood for a spot of leisurely reading, the “Business Bar” at Eventi has plenty of gadgets on tap. Essentials and accessories for guests to borrow include cables, headphones, e-readers and video-cameras. Provided your work is stored on a cloud, you don’t even need a laptop; feel free to make us of their iPads, MacBook Pros and more.


Best for… Visionaries

Blow Up Hall 5050, Poznan, Poland

High Tech Hotel Art

This project is the brainchild of Poland’s wealthiest woman, whose ideal business model is a 50/50 collision of business and art. The grand entrance hall greets you with a spinning light installation, and your room key – an iPhone 5, pre fitted with a Polish sim card, is yours for the duration of your stay. The lobby is a mixture of traditional artwork and digital media, casting and pixelating an image of yourself onto a series of large screens. A room finder app shows you to your room. Once inside, the experience is markedly more normal, though not in the least bit boring. Surprisingly, this hotel is quite affordable compared to other high-end luxury hotels; room prices start at 450 złoty (GBP £76).

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Win FREE tickets to Grand Designs 2015!


Heat Genius are giving away 50 pairs of free tickets to Grand Designs Live at the NEC. Whether you’re a builder, installer or just get your kicks from seeing the most revolutionary tech and design first hand, come October 8-11, Grand Designs is the place to be.
Grand Designs 2015 free ticketsTickets normally cost £19 on the door, or £16.70 in advance, including a booking fee. Up to two children under 15 get in free when accompanied by an adult.

Our very own Alasdair has been invited to be the expert technology consultant for the Grand Designs show. Specialising in how to save energy, smart home technologies and how to build an eco home, he is on hand to give you advice on how to cut your energy bills. Book a free consultation here.

What’s going on?
Grand Designs Live will be in full swing at the NEC, Birmingham from Thursday 8th – Sunday 11th October. It will be hosted by presenter of the wildly popular Channel 4 show, design aficionado Kevin McCloud.

Grand Designs live show


Try out the latest cutting-edge home technologies in the Technology exhibition, alongside exhibitors in Interiors, Kitchens & Bathrooms, Gardens, Build, Food & Housewares.

Walk through life size eco-homes, get expert advice on home design and building from industry experts and hear from Grand Designers who have been featured on the show.

Meet Kevin’s selection of top eco innovators in his Green Heroes section, which gives designers who are committed to sustainable innovation the opportunity for wider recognition in the market.

This is just a snapshot of what’s happening, so seize this chance to bag some free tickets!

How do I win?

Enter below! You have several options:

  1. Tweet about our competition
  2. Follow us on Twitter
  3. Like us on Facebook

Entry to the raffle closes at 11:59pm GMT on Wednesday 30th September.

A small word of advice, if we may:  Don’t keep this to yourselves! The more you spread the word about this competition, the more entries you get.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Smart cities of the future: The Cognicity Challenge


What would a fully iSmart cities of the futurentegrated smart city look like? Wi-fi in underground stations? Pavement that converts foot power to electricity? Solar stations for charging your mobile phone? And is this future purely conceptual; an insurmountable pipedream, or a tangible, not too far off future?

Over the past few months, Heat Genius have been finding out. We’ve trekked back and forth to the capital to participate in an intensive 12 week programme, the Cognicity Challenge, organised by the Canary Wharf Group. The goal of the challenge is to identify and launch smart city solutions that “inform the creation of the integrated city of the future”.


The finalists

All finalists, including Heat Genius, are pioneers in technologies that improve efficiency and reduce costs for a city’s residents. The products and designs can all be retrofitted to existing buildings and anticipate and adapt to future construction and lifestyle needs. Innovations were divided into six streams, each one an instrumental element of an integrated smart city.

It’s been a great opportunity to develop and enhance our products, exploring lots of opportunities for collaboration, networking with other “Internet of Things” (IoT) companies that are spearheading the way into the smart future, and meeting with potential investors.

Connected homes

We were finalists in the ‘connected home’ category. The term ‘connected home’ isn’t yet commonly used in the mainstream vernacular, but over the coming months and years that’s likely to change as we see an explosion in connected home objects and devices. This breed of smart technology is becoming more affordable, easy-to-use and and integrated with devices that are already installed in the home.

Simply put, the connected home is about being able to regulate and monitor the home through an ecosystem of connected devices. Products include home security and monitoring devices, wi-fi lightbulbs, smart thermostats, pet feeding systems… even smart stoves, washers and dryers. Such home automation technologies are designed to enhance living conditions, security and generally boost energy efficiency and savings.

Other streams at Cognicity focussed on topics such as transportation, virtual design and construction. To pick a few, we loved:

  • Pavegen – Pavement that harnesses the energy from footsteps and turns it into electrical power
  • 3D geospatial modelling innovators, CyberCity3D
  • Mellowcabs – A fully electric minicab and app for urban areas
  • Voyage Control – Likened to “air traffic control for trucks”, this system helps businesses schedule freight deliveries and maximise spare capacity in freight vehicles

If these innovations excite you even half as much as they do us, take a look at all the innovations!

Just a few weeks after the challenge has ended, we’re excited to be in preliminary discussions with Canary Wharf Group on trialling Heat Genius as part of their amazing new Wood Wharf development. Watch this space.

See our CEO Alastair explaining the Heat Genius system during Cognicity:

Have you come across any smart technologies worth shouting about? Let us know!