Thursday, October 15, 2015

Home automation (update)

Last year I wrote about my first entry into the field of home automation and the Internet of Things. My first purchase was a combined motion sensor, video camera and Z-Wave hub that can control switches or lights remotely. The device, called Piper, also has sensors for temperature, light, and sound and contains a security siren. I then added some Belkin Wemo LED lights, that required a separate controller and then some OSRAM Lightify LED bulbs and light strips that required their own controller. Ok so now things were getting rather complex with three separate controllers controlling different things. This really reflects the state of the home automation market with many competing standards fighting for dominance; such as: Z-Wave, ZigBee, Hue, Wemo, and even Google and Apple now entering the fray.
   I then came across something called Smartthings that can talk to most of the different automation standards allowing a single controller to automate a wide variety of devices. Of particular interest to me also was that it supports open-source code allowing developers to make their own "SmartApps" for their own needs. which then they can share with the Smartthings community. For example, somebody might make a SmartApp to always ensure that the garage door is closed at sunset. Somebody else might make a SmartApp to turn on the irrigation system at Sunset for one hour, but only if it hasn't rained in the previous day. I now have a Smartthings hub controlling a variety of lights, a motion sensor, garage door opener, and video door bell. My favourite functionality is being told if the garage door is open if I've left home and being able to remotely close it. The Ring video doorbell that lets me see who's at the front door and talk to them, even when I'm not at home, is pretty cool as well.

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