HomeKit accessories for smart home

Apple HomeKit has become a reality with the arrival of the compatible objects. It is not yet known whether an application will centralize the operation of HomeKit, however, it is known that Apple TV will play a central role.

Unlocking a door remotely from your tablet, turning off the lights by asking your iPhone or iPad, closing the shutters with your voice, turning the heat down or up far from home… these are all scenarios that will now be possible from an Apple device in the coming weeks. The only prerequisites, if you can say so, are a minimum iOS device, connected HomeKit compatible objects and an Apple TV (third generation minimum).

Image result for apple tv

Siri becomes the householder

As WWDC approaches, Apple seems to be accelerating the deployment of HomeKit, almost a year to the day after its presentation. The most impatient will have found the time long and those who dream of piloting their interior with voice, like Iron Man, will be delighted with this arrival.

As Apple suggested last year, Siri will be central to this device since it may be the interface that will execute your orders. By the way, Apple has not yet announced whether an application would allow you to control the accessories connected from the iPhone or iPad, without having to go through the various applications of the accessories manufacturers.

Apple TV at the center of the device

On the other hand, Apple has confirmed that Apple TV will be essential since it will serve as a hub that will connect the connected objects in your home with your iOS devices. This promises bright days for what Steve Jobs has long called an Apple hobby. As such, Apple should introduce a new version of its Apple TV, but later this year if the latest rumors are to be believed.

To clarify a little bit the role of Apple TV, it will serve as a relay when you are outside your home. At home, the tablet or smartphone can interact directly with the connected accessories, far from home, the Apple TV will be your relay.

With HomeKit, Apple is making a sweet dream come true thanks to the connected objects, making it easy to install and use home automation. By offering HomeKit, Apple even makes it easier for accessory manufacturers to make their inventions compatible. Some companies have already indicated that they are not interested in this system, as is the case with Nest, one of the leaders in this sector, owned by Google.

Many companies have decided to play the game and will launch the first certified HomeKit compatible products on the market in the coming days. It was Lumi, with its Aqara product line, that announced a wide range of smart home devices. Aqara temperature sensor can measure the temperature. Aqara door/window sensor detects the closing of doors or windows or to manage an electrical outlet.

Luron with a light kit, iHome with a plug connected or Ecobee with a smart thermostat, other brands also offer their HomeKit compatible products. For the time being, these products are limited to the American market (with the exception of Elgato) and can be controlled from dedicated applications. As mentioned above, it is not yet clear whether Apple will offer a central application that can control everything remotely. All we know is that Siri will be able to do it.

The implementation of HomeKit should accelerate the arrival on the market of compatible products, as Philips, Haier, Netatmo, Withings and many others are still being announced to be compatible with the system developed by Apple. HomeKit is finally becoming a reality and this information should further accelerate the growth of the burgeoning connected object sector.

Eve Aqua: Smart garden irrigation review

Almost all areas of our lives are now ready to be a smart home. And I like to be a willing victim and try it out. I always look at what is really worthwhile productively, so that I use it in the long run and also bother my family with it. I’ve automated a lot of things so that they work inconspicuously and without user interaction, and then I do some things with as few apps as possible.

If you look around the market, you can see that some manufacturers have lost the connection, here I call Devolo, to whom I have remained loyal for a long time. In view of the new Aqara possibilities with the European products.

eve-aqua

And where we are with the keyword HomeKit, there I also use numerous elements, partly just the mentioned Aqara sensors like temperature humidity sensor, which we already tested once as well as sockets of Eve. Eve is now also used in our garden, where I recently installed Eve Aqua, a pure convenience thing that can of course also be achieved with other components. Eve Aqua is the water tap for the garden – or wherever you use it on your taps. It is fed with two AA batteries and then integrated into HomeKit via a code in a few seconds.

Eve products are generally the same as most products that can be integrated into HomeKit: they can be managed, automated and switched via the manufacturer’s app, but many functions are also possible via HomeKit. In the case of Eve, the user can set very granular conditions for Eve Aqua to provide irrigation, but I personally get along very well with the fact that in HomeKit I set a period of activity for which the tap is opened.

A concrete case study: Eve Aqua is in our garden at a water connection. Behind it is a very long hose that runs behind our hedge. We have perforated the hose so that it passes the water evenly from below to the plants. If I start with HomeKit (and thus also with Siri) Eve Aqua, then we do an irrigation for a period of 45 minutes and then finish by ourselves.

Eve Aqua doesn’t need a bridge, it’s so directly included in HomeKit. If there is no HomeKit central in the vicinity (iPad, HomePod or even the Apple TV), then one has to be within reach (except with fixed schedules, that basically works after a one-time setup) in order to control the device with the iPhone. Range to Eve Aqua or other Eve components not sufficient? Then you could reach for a new Extender (Eve Extend), which distributes the commands based on Bluetooth over the WLAN. Alternatively, there is also a power button on Eve Aqua, which can be pressed to make water march.

As mentioned: We still do this by hand, so we press “get started” in the app, alternatively you can do something yourself in the Eve app and also use dependencies – for example with Eve Degree, a temperature sensor. Or you can build yourself a button with HomeKit. Everything is possible.

Irrigation computers of this kind are by no means new. There are non-smart solutions for “small money” as well as other manufacturers whose smart products cost less.

I myself have only just started using the product and can therefore say nothing about the longevity of the engine. But the first impression is: good workmanship (metal body, front made of hard plastic) (except for the battery compartment, which looks loveless), flexible app and a high WAF (woman acceptance factor). On the other hand, of course, there is the purchase price. Almost 90 Euros are due, that’s how much some people pay for their water pumps. After all: A lot cheaper than the Gardena system, even if it includes a bridge and sensors. That had flashed me less, even though you are now connected to HomeKit.

AMAZON ECHO VS AMAZON ECHO DOT

Amazon Echo costs just under 180 euros, Amazon Echo Dot just under 60 euros. Despite the large price difference, the functions of the two devices are very similar. We’ll show you which smart speakers are really worth it.

After only two weeks with Amazon Echo, it’s hard to imagine our household without this device. And that means something. Because my wife is usually sceptical about the new smart home technology that I regularly bring along. Also because many things are unnecessarily complicated and rarely function reliably.

Not so Alexa. The smart Amazon language assistant is the heart and brain of both Echo versions. Her big advantage over many other smart home solutions is that she listens to the word right after the simple installation – both with Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot.

AMAZON ECHO VS AMAZON ECHO DOT

Both versions with impeccable speech recognition

Both versions feature seven microphones that reliably detect the direction of speech and use the other microphones to achieve a kind of noise cancelling.

The code word “Alexa”, which starts the speech recording, was only accidentally triggered twice during the two weeks of use. Who perhaps listens to the name Alex could get more problems with it. In this case Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot alternatively offer the trigger words “Amazon” and “Echo”.

When two or more people talk at the same time, Echo no longer understands his trigger word. Also Amazon Echo (but not Amazon Echo Dot because of the smaller speaker) gets problems if it plays music too loud.
In our household there is an Amazon Echo in the living room and a small Amazon Echo Dot in the bedroom. The biggest difference between the two: The speaker in the Amazon Echo is much better than the one in the Amazon Echo Dot.

Main use of the Amazon Echo in the living room: The playback of music via the integrated music service Amazon Prime Music and the linked Spotify account. In most cases, this works excellently.

But what bothers me enormously is the sound quality of the Amazon Echo. Don’t get me wrong, it’s anything but grottig bad, comes close to a good Bluetooth box like the UE Megaboom (click here for a test). However, it can’t even come close to replacing a reasonable system.

We use Sonos at home. It was already announced in April that in 2017 there will be a deep integration of Sonos into Amazon Echo. From then on Amazon Echo will be able to control its own Sonos system directly.

Until then, Amazon Echo owners will not be able to control external speakers of any kind. Not so with the much cheaper Amazon Echo Dot, which has a jack output for audio signals. The audio signal can be fed directly into the Sonos system via a Play:5, but any other commercially available music system can also be controlled in this way. The Amazon Echo Dot can even be used to control Bluetooth speakers.

This gives Amazon Echo Dot a decisive advantage over Amazon Echo. Even if you order loudspeakers for 20 Euro in addition to the Amazon Echo purchase price, it is still 100 Euro cheaper and offers absolutely the same range of functions.

Inirv React prevents you from leaving the gas open

Did I turn off the gas when I left home this morning? Is the door properly closed? Are the lights off? Questions we all asked ourselves one day. Thanks to Inirv React, you may soon no longer need to ask yourself first. A project currently being financed on Kickstarter will allow you to control the gas from your phone. Practical and reassuring at the same time, a new step in the development of the connected kitchen. We explain the details to you.

inirv react

Inirv React, the reassuring system

You’re sure of that. It’s closed. It’s a mechanical gesture you never forget to make, right? But there’s this haunting doubt lying around in a corner of your mind. What if your house goes up in flames because you forgot to do it today? The idea of Inirv React was born to respond to this fear.

The system consists of a sensor and 4 control buttons. The sensor is equipped with smoke and gas detectors and allows the buttons to be connected to Wi-Fi. It connects to them via Bluetooth, allowing you to control the system from anywhere. In case of a problem or danger, an alert is sent to you in real time. Inirv React buttons can replace those you already have or be added to existing ones.

Controlling the gas through an application

The buttons have a small motor that allows you to activate them remotely and therefore close the gas if your application tells you that you have left it open. A small LED, which is not without reminding you of the flames, also indicates the power level. Finally, thanks to the motion detector, if the kitchen is empty for more than 15 minutes, the gas is automatically shut off.

The unit is powered by a rechargeable battery system and can be adapted to almost any gas cooker. You can also choose a specific color to make it fit in with your kitchen. Inirv React will also be compatible with Alexa, Amazon’s personal assistant.

The project is still in the financing stage on Kickstarter. You have until February 15 to support it. Just over $125,000 has been raised so far, but its creators are targeting the $400,000 to unlock all the features. Small problem, the first level of donation is no longer available so if you want to collaborate, you will have to pay at least $229. For this price, you will be entitled to 4 controllers. It’s up to you. But the system will clearly cost you less than buying a connected furnace with an equivalent system.

Aqara vibration sensor

Hello friends

Today I want to talk about a new gadget for the system of smart home from Xiaomi – A vibration sensor from the brand Aqara, known to every builder of smart home.

aqara vibration sensor

Unboxing

I’ll start as always with the box. It is unusually large for such devices. Framed in the traditions of the genre, except that the list of parameters of the Aqara vibration sensor moved from the back side of the box to one of the ends. The sensor works on the ZigBee protocol, has an autonomous power supply on the element CR2032 and size 36 * 36 * 9 mm.

There is a lot of empty space in such a big box, I don’t know why they did it. But a dozen of these sensors would be easily entered into it.

In addition to the sensor-included a spare sticker double-sided tape and instruction, and multilingual-is present even in the Russian language.

The appearance of the sensor has a traditional for Aqara gadgets, square shape and appearance. Moreover, it is exactly the same as the temperature, humidity and pressure sensor, excluding markings and no openings to measure the relative humidity.

On the frontal surface there is a marking in the form of two wavy lines, and a blue led.
At the top end of the sensor is the pairing button with the gateway.

Behind-a cover, with already pasted bilateral tape under which there is a 3 volt battery CR2032.

Application

The sensor plugs into the Aqara application directly or through the gateway plug-in. Connection Wizard Standard-Select the desired sensor from the list, press and hold the sensor button to 3 flashes of diode and select the room in which the sensor will be.

The sensor plug-in has a standard two windows-in one of them the list of scenarios in which the sensor is involved, in another-a log of positives. Everything else is on the menu

From the exclusive-in the menu of the sensor there is statistics on the curve of vibration, apparently in the context of the day and the week, the data is not updated yet, and their meaning is incomprehensible to me. There is also a configurable level of sensitivity, the default is medium. If you need to change-it is better to select it experimentally depending on the tasks, then after selecting the level, you need to press the button on the sensor and get a voice confirmation from the gateway.

Automation

The sensor, of course, can only be used as a scenario condition. It offers three exposure options — vibration, throw, and tilt detection. In the logs, these actions are displayed, respectively, as object is touched, object drops, and Tilt detected. Experimentally I have established that the first action-detection of vibration, can not be more often than once in a minute, the second and third-as the action is committed.

What do all these actions mean?

The event is a vibration detection, generated as I said no more times in 1 minute, for it is necessary, as the name implies, the impact of vibration. For example, the sensor is in the closet, when closed the doors or window, it caused vibration. Or it is on some object which has been shifted, on a safe a door which has opened and closed, on a chair on which have sat and so on.

The throw event is generated when a similar fall or throw is in motion. Use cases-to track the fall of some items, or for example, sharp closures of caps.

Tilt, or rather say offset, is the action that will be generated when the sensor is docked on a door or window and that will move. Unlike the open sensor — which generates statuses — open or closed, the vibration sensor generates precisely the movement of the window or door, can be useful in cases where the door in principle is not closed, or is sliding or rotating.

The use of such a sensor-I think a lot, and now you can decide whether you need it or not, and for what, personally for yourself, I still see two cases-a movement of doors that are not always closed, and working surface vibration when opening/closing the door The safe is for the illumination automation.