The March 2016 #IoTDinner (homeauotmation) in London was a sell out from the get go – we all knew it would be. Attended by over 30 guests, it was our largest event so far and demonstrates just how big an appetite we all have for #IoT.
With demonstrations from Jamie Siminoff @JamieSiminoff @ring, Sean O’Brien @sob_1971 @netatmo and of course Andrew Thorpe (Corporate to Consumer Programs Manager at Apple) – we zoned in on homeautomation as our central theme discussing Apple’s HomeKit and the various different products available on the market in this space.
Whilst I anticipated a central hub to manage all of our my homeautomation appliances, we all learned that Apple does not intend to introduce yet another box into the home right now, instead Siri is our interface with Apple’s HomeKit – HomeKit is a framework for communicating with and controlling connected accessories in a user’s home. If you already have an iPhone then you have HomeKit.
I had been totally unaware of HomeKit so jumped in with both feet once I got home. Sean had demonstrated the Netatmo home thermostat and I was lucky enough to be given one after the event – I found the installation quite simple and once installed I found it reasonably straight forward to link it with Apple’s HomeKit.
Many people might point to the convenience of the app as the main benefit, with it being on my iPhone it is easy to change the temperature from where ever I might be however what I have found more interesting is the information I am getting back – for example, I have learned that my boiler is on a lot! To get the house to 19 degrees it had to be on for 2 hours or more, I have now reduced the temperature in the house to 18 degrees – the boiler now shuts off sooner because the goal temperature is lower, obviously but that last degree, from 18 to 19 was taking the longest and probably costing me a small fortune – quite extraordinary, I am therefore looking forward to seeing my 35% savings over the next year and can easily see where that figure might come from.
The picture below is a screenshot from the Netatmo system I can log in to online, I assume this is similar for other appliances from Nest and Hive for example. The bar shows when my heater is on and what percentage of time it was on so as shown it was on today 70% of the time between 3pm and 4pm. The black line shows the real temperature and the red line show the goal temperature. Before I dropped the temperature down from 19 to 18 degrees my boiler was on 100% of the time only to get that final degree. Now it is on 70% – this will save me money!
As it is connected to Apple HomeKit I can now ask Siri to increase or decrease the temperature in the house without opening the app or running downstairs which is convenient, although I doubt the family will adopt this for quite some time. Typically however, after playing with Siri for an hour solid and Siri understanding every word out of my mouth the moment I showed my wife how easy it all was, it suddenly wasn’t and Siri behaved like a spoilt child refusing to cooperate with the simplest of instructions. But then I am an early adopter and my family get this so ad hoc demonstrations often end up with me saying what was supposed to happen and how great it will surely be when indeed it really does all go to plan.
The home thermostat went down almost unnoticed in the house, my wife thought it looked ok and my kids barely noticed it, our doorbell from Ring however has been the exact opposite and provides endless fun whenever my 10 year old daughter gets home from school. This doorbell takes a live stream of the person (or cat or dog) at the door and sends it to my phone – I have turned off notifications for motion but it still records it anyway which is good for security, it works well and I even wired it up to my doorbell so we did not need to use the Chime that comes as an optional extra.
What is very convenient about this piece of kit is the fact that it is two way, I can talk to people at my front door and they can talk to me, I can even see them – and from where ever in the World I might be. The family got used to it very quickly and it does not look too bad, as a tech lover, I think it looks stunning, my wife thinks it looks like a doorbell with a camera on it and my son thinks it looks weird, my daughter however loves it!
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