Sam shares how he helps decide StreamLabs’ functions and what excites him about the future of smart water tech.
Sam Elia has been with StreamLabs since its early days and continues to refine the backend of the device and its app for a better user experience. So if you’ve ever wondered how we pick the unique functions of StreamLabs devices, continue reading to hear Sam share more about how he helps make those decisions and what he’s excited about for the future of smart water tech.
1. Tell us a little bit about what you do at as senior systems manager for StreamLabs.
As senior systems manager for StreamLabs, I am responsible for managing the software for the StreamLabs Monitor, Control, mobile app and cloud. I work with a talented team of software developers, DevOps engineers and QA engineers to make sure we produce a quality, user-friendly and secure product that people can depend on.
2. As someone who works on the technical side of the product, how do you choose which leak detection indicators are the most valuable?
We spent a lot of time thinking about how people would classify a leak in their home. It’s relatively easy to define when you aren’t home. If you are away and any water is flowing, then you might have a problem. Of course, we must account for things like ice makers and water softeners that may use water even when you aren’t home, and StreamLabs does just that when it is in “Away” mode.
It gets trickier to identify a leak from normal water usage for when people are at home and using water normally. But the most important indicators for leak detection are flow rate, duration of flow and water pressure. While there are plenty of other factors that may contribute to leak detection, these three are the leading indicators based on years of research and industry expertise.
With that in mind, we initially decided on a user-defined rule-based approach where the user can specify what is a slow leak and what is a major leak. For example, there aren’t many times you would use water for more than 30 minutes, so you might set your settings to be, “If flow is above 0.25 gallon per minute for 30 minutes, notify me of a slow leak.”
The rule-based approach works well, but not many people know what 0.25 gpm looks like. People might wonder, “Would that catch a leaky toilet? Would that falsely trigger a leak when I shower?” To make it even easier, we developed SmartAlerts® learning leak detection. With SmartAlerts enabled, StreamLabs will learn your water habits over a week and can then automatically notify you when it sees something unusual.
It’s not just water flow rate and time that we can use to determine a leak. A “pinhole” leak might be so small that the flow rate doesn’t register. For this reason, we developed DripDetect®. The StreamLabs Control uses the pressure sensor and the shut-off valve to detect leaks so small that they wouldn’t otherwise be detected by flow rate.
3. Though a whole-home leak detector directly serves homeowners, how can plumbers also benefit from a device like StreamLabs?
Some of the first problems that the StreamLabs Control detects immediately after being installed are a faulty pressure reducing valve, aging expansion tank or pinhole leak. These are problems that could linger in the background for a while until they catastrophically fail. StreamLabs identifies these problems upfront so that the plumber can address them immediately and the homeowner can have peace of mind.
4. What about the smart water industry are you most excited about in the near future?
Now that smart home devices like Amazon Alexa, Nest thermostat and smart lightbulbs are becoming mainstream, people are understanding how smart home technology can make their lives more convenient. I’m excited that homeowners and insurance companies are now embracing other categories of smart home devices, such as water monitors, smart locks and video cameras, that protect people’s family and home.
5. What are some of the more challenging parts of your job? And what do you enjoy most?
Consumer technology products can be tricky because of the vast variety of smartphone manufacturers, Wi-Fi routers and a constantly changing technology ecosystem. We test the StreamLabs app on all the major manufacturers’ flagship phones, entry-level phones, tablets and with a variety of iOS and Android versions. It can take months to fully test and feel confident about a particular app release. The greatest satisfaction, for me, is when we receive a glowing customer review.
6. What does your work mean to you?
I’ve been working with StreamLabs from the very early days while I was a student at Georgia Tech. This product line is the culmination of years of research and hard work from myself and my team. We are so proud of what we’ve accomplished and can’t wait to see how these products will continue to impact the world.