Guides and Reviews

FIBARO has released their HomeKit range of products in October 2016. However, the new range of HomeKit enabled products run purely on Bluetooth. This move left an entire customer base that are using FIBARO Home Center Lite and FIBARO Home Center 2 in lurch as the current Home Center range does not offer HomeKit connectivity. Currently they do not have any known plans in the pipeline to make their Home Center HomeKit compatible.

For the technical savvy geeks, there are open source solution based on Node JS, available for quick enablement of HomeKit on their FIBARO system. This require some technical knowledge of linux command lines, managing system services as well as editing of config files. Unlike our previous post on integrating Amazon Echo and Google Home with FIbaro/Vera where geeks can just request for a jar file from us to so do, making your FIBARO HomeKit compatible requires a little more work than that. However, we are not going do a technical coverage of how to make your FIBARO system HomeKit enabled. Geeks can drop us a message and we will point you to the technical guides. In this post, we are glad to announce that we have packaged the HomeKit software into our existing Smart Home Bridge that is already running the software to voice control (with Google Home and Amazon Echo) your FIBARO system. With the Smart Home Bridge, you just need to download our app (currently still being published to the App Store), to quickly enable HomeKit on your FIBARO. Here are some screenshots on the quick setup which takes you less than 5 mins if you are using the Smart Home Bridge:

Once your run the app with the Smart Home Bridge, already connected to the network and powered up, the app connects itself to the bridge automatically and pulls out the default settings. It also generates a HomeKit code for you to use later on.

You just need to key in your FIBARO system IP address (we will do an auto scan in our next release) and also the local FIBARO login credential and click on Save to Smart Home Bridge. The HomeKit software on the bridge will restart and connect to your FIBARO system to pull out all your devices. We will go to this later.

If you ever encounter problem with the setup, you can click on Reset Smart Home Bridge and Save to Smart Home Bridge. This is in case you need to reset the HomeKit software. In the open source version that the techie uses, they will have to SSH into the OS to delete certain files. The app handles that for end users.

Please note that if you are a geek that installed the open source software, this app will not work as we had to customised the software and created services on the OS to allow inputs from the app. However, if you configured the open source version of the software correctly, the following steps will be the same. You just need to launch your Home app on your iOS device (iOS 10 and above):

Select Add Accessory

Select the Smart Home Bridge

The app will complain that it is not certified but it will still work, so click on Add Anyway.

Click on Enter Code Manually

Enter the HomeKit code that was previously shown in the Smart Home Bridge app.

That's it. Your devices in FIBARO will all be automatically extracted into the Home app and your FIBARO system is now HomeKit enabled! The following screenshots simply shows the different type of devices that can be controlled by the HomeKit app.

             

With this, you can also ask Siri to turn on/off your lights, lock doors, set AC setpoint etc. What's more is that if you have an Apple Watch, all these automatically appears on the watch for quick control on your wrist! Just note that by default, HomeKit only works if you are on your own wifi network. For it to to work remotely, you will need to make your Apple TV or spare iPad as a home hub for remote access. Check out this link for details.

You can now ditch your FIBARO app that looks like it came from an iPhone 3GS era. So, geeks, feel free to PM us for instructions (it is too lengthy to share here) and if you want it quick an easy, get the Smart Home Bridge here.

PS : This version of Smart Home Bridge has been updated to allow configuration via a URL instead of an app. Please refer to this article.

Automate Asia Team

 

 

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FIBARO has released their HomeKit range of products in October 2016. However, the new range of HomeKit enabled products run purely on Bluetooth. This move left an entire customer base that are using FIBARO Home Center Lite and FIBARO Home Center 2 in lurch as the current Home Center range does not offer HomeKit connectivity. Currently they do not have any known plans in the pipeline to make their Home Center HomeKit compatible.

For the technical savvy geeks, there are open source solution based on Node JS, available for quick enablement of HomeKit on their FIBARO system. This require some technical knowledge of linux command lines, managing system services as well as editing of config files. Unlike our previous post on integrating Amazon Echo and Google Home with FIbaro/Vera where geeks can just request for a jar file from us to so do, making your FIBARO HomeKit compatible requires a little more work than that. However, we are not going do a technical coverage of how to make your FIBARO system HomeKit enabled. Geeks can drop us a message and we will point you to the technical guides. In this post, we are glad to announce that we have packaged the HomeKit software into our existing Smart Home Bridge that is already running the software to voice control (with Google Home and Amazon Echo) your FIBARO system. With the Smart Home Bridge, you just need to download our app (currently still being published to the App Store), to quickly enable HomeKit on your FIBARO. Here are some screenshots on the quick setup which takes you less than 5 mins if you are using the Smart Home Bridge:

Once your run the app with the Smart Home Bridge, already connected to the network and powered up, the app connects itself to the bridge automatically and pulls out the default settings. It also generates a HomeKit code for you to use later on.

You just need to key in your FIBARO system IP address (we will do an auto scan in our next release) and also the local FIBARO login credential and click on Save to Smart Home Bridge. The HomeKit software on the bridge will restart and connect to your FIBARO system to pull out all your devices. We will go to this later.

If you ever encounter problem with the setup, you can click on Reset Smart Home Bridge and Save to Smart Home Bridge. This is in case you need to reset the HomeKit software. In the open source version that the techie uses, they will have to SSH into the OS to delete certain files. The app handles that for end users.

Please note that if you are a geek that installed the open source software, this app will not work as we had to customised the software and created services on the OS to allow inputs from the app. However, if you configured the open source version of the software correctly, the following steps will be the same. You just need to launch your Home app on your iOS device (iOS 10 and above):

Select Add Accessory

Select the Smart Home Bridge

The app will complain that it is not certified but it will still work, so click on Add Anyway.

Click on Enter Code Manually

Enter the HomeKit code that was previously shown in the Smart Home Bridge app.

That's it. Your devices in FIBARO will all be automatically extracted into the Home app and your FIBARO system is now HomeKit enabled! The following screenshots simply shows the different type of devices that can be controlled by the HomeKit app.

             

With this, you can also ask Siri to turn on/off your lights, lock doors, set AC setpoint etc. What's more is that if you have an Apple Watch, all these automatically appears on the watch for quick control on your wrist! Just note that by default, HomeKit only works if you are on your own wifi network. For it to to work remotely, you will need to make your Apple TV or spare iPad as a home hub for remote access. Check out this link for details.

You can now ditch your FIBARO app that looks like it came from an iPhone 3GS era. So, geeks, feel free to PM us for instructions (it is too lengthy to share here) and if you want it quick an easy, get the Smart Home Bridge here.

PS : This version of Smart Home Bridge has been updated to allow configuration via a URL instead of an app. Please refer to this article.

Automate Asia Team

 

 

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Review : Smart Garden by Click and Grow

Posted by Mike Lim

The first time we heard about the Click and Grow Smart Garden, without reading up anything much about it, we thought that it will be a device that comes with soil humidity, PH level, auto-watering/lighting features, connected to an app that tells you all the vital signs of the plant. The word "Smart" seemed to suggest all the above. Unfortunately, it is not the usual gadget we were expecting and the smart-ness lies somewhere else.

The Click and Grow Smart Garden comes with 3 pre-seeded pots of basil. According to the company, it comes with specially formulated soil that contains pockets of oxygen and optimum nutrients inspired from NASA technology. It is also advertised to grow 30% faster and uses 95% less water.

The starter kit has a reservoir for water that needs to be refilled around every 4-6 weeks, and a light strip that simulates sunlight. Click and Grow claims that that users need only plug the device into the mains and keep it topped up with water. It all sounds very simple.

We are not gardener to start with and did not have any experience in growing anything, not to mention basils. However, setting up was really easy and the instructions provided got us up and running in no time.

There are plastic caps that simulates a greenhouse effect to kick start the growth and also a visual water indicator that tells you when you should top up water. The app that comes with it also sends you reminders to do so. The visual indicator is actually just a simple mechanism that floats on the water. We were quite tempted to put in a water level sensor to make it more automated.

 Turn in the wall plug on turns on the LED lighting for the plants. Please note that the lighting cycle for the device is 18 hours of lights followed by 6 hours of darkness. The inbuilt timer would handle the schedule from the moment you turn on the power. Thus you actually have to turn it on early in the morning for the cycle to be more in line with your timezone. The height of the LED lights can also be adjusted as the plant grows and it takes around 4-6 weeks before you can "harvest" the herb for use in your kitchen.

Conclusion

The Smart Garden isn't really a connected device but does what it is expected. It is really a no fuss setup to grow outdoor edible herbs fully indoor. You can also purchase refill cartridge (sounds like a printer) to grow other herbs/food like mint, chillies, tomatoes or even strawberries.

Maybe as we get older, we begin to enjoy stuff like growing herbs and cooking them even though it is not really a gadget. Maybe because there is a tinge of technology in this setup that attracted us to this and there isn't any much care required of us to grow them.

Here's how a 4-weeks old basil looks like and it gives a different kind of satisfaction from playing with gadgets and smart home stuff. Maybe it is time to make your garden smarter in your smart home. The Click and Grow Smart Garden will be available in EpiCentre Singapore soon.

 

Automate Asia Team

 

Read more

The first time we heard about the Click and Grow Smart Garden, without reading up anything much about it, we thought that it will be a device that comes with soil humidity, PH level, auto-watering/lighting features, connected to an app that tells you all the vital signs of the plant. The word "Smart" seemed to suggest all the above. Unfortunately, it is not the usual gadget we were expecting and the smart-ness lies somewhere else.

The Click and Grow Smart Garden comes with 3 pre-seeded pots of basil. According to the company, it comes with specially formulated soil that contains pockets of oxygen and optimum nutrients inspired from NASA technology. It is also advertised to grow 30% faster and uses 95% less water.

The starter kit has a reservoir for water that needs to be refilled around every 4-6 weeks, and a light strip that simulates sunlight. Click and Grow claims that that users need only plug the device into the mains and keep it topped up with water. It all sounds very simple.

We are not gardener to start with and did not have any experience in growing anything, not to mention basils. However, setting up was really easy and the instructions provided got us up and running in no time.

There are plastic caps that simulates a greenhouse effect to kick start the growth and also a visual water indicator that tells you when you should top up water. The app that comes with it also sends you reminders to do so. The visual indicator is actually just a simple mechanism that floats on the water. We were quite tempted to put in a water level sensor to make it more automated.

 Turn in the wall plug on turns on the LED lighting for the plants. Please note that the lighting cycle for the device is 18 hours of lights followed by 6 hours of darkness. The inbuilt timer would handle the schedule from the moment you turn on the power. Thus you actually have to turn it on early in the morning for the cycle to be more in line with your timezone. The height of the LED lights can also be adjusted as the plant grows and it takes around 4-6 weeks before you can "harvest" the herb for use in your kitchen.

Conclusion

The Smart Garden isn't really a connected device but does what it is expected. It is really a no fuss setup to grow outdoor edible herbs fully indoor. You can also purchase refill cartridge (sounds like a printer) to grow other herbs/food like mint, chillies, tomatoes or even strawberries.

Maybe as we get older, we begin to enjoy stuff like growing herbs and cooking them even though it is not really a gadget. Maybe because there is a tinge of technology in this setup that attracted us to this and there isn't any much care required of us to grow them.

Here's how a 4-weeks old basil looks like and it gives a different kind of satisfaction from playing with gadgets and smart home stuff. Maybe it is time to make your garden smarter in your smart home. The Click and Grow Smart Garden will be available in EpiCentre Singapore soon.

 

Automate Asia Team

 

Read more

Review : Nanoleaf Aurora

Posted by Edwin Tan

The first time we laid our eyes on Nanoleaf Aurora, we fell in love with it’s aesthetics. We’d even imagine having an entire wall full of the colorful, mesmerising LED panels.Well, that is if you have money to burn. In Singaporean context, we call it damn bloody chio LED panels that do not look beng at all!

First Impression

One of the most design centric connected home devices we’ve ever seen, the Nanoleaf Aurora is yet another iOS, Android and voice enabled smart lighting panels. Unlike the typical Philips Hue bulbs, these ultra bright LED panels are triangular, modular and are usually wall mounted. The Aurora panels work with Apple HomeKit, an iOS 10 smart home standards built into iPhones and iPads. With it’s latest firmware, it is also compatible with Amazon Echo. With all these, you can either toggle your lights and devices right from your phone’s Control Center, by using spoken Siri commands or by talking to your Amazon Echo speakers.

The starter pack with 9 LED panels cost SGD 399 (with local 3 years warranty). It sounds expensive but considering the price you pay for a Philip Hue starter kit with only 3 bulbs, the features, aesthetics and the flexibility of these panels seem to be quite worth the bucks.

Setup

Setting up the Aurora is entirely up to your own creativity. The panel connects to each other with a SIM card like connector that is rather fragile. The controller attachment connects to one of the panels and can power up to 30 panels. Yes, you start with 9 panels and can purchase additional sets of 3 panels at SGD129. The box doesn’t tell you much on the setup but provides you a few idea on how you can organise the panels. We guess the panels and the parts looks rather intuitive to connect and get going.

   

Once the panels are connected and the controller attachment powered up, simply download and launch the Nanoleaf app to sync them up to your phone. If you own an iPhone or iPad running iOS 10 and above, you will be able to connect it as a HomeKit device and start controlling them via Siri as well. For Android owner, you can control the lights only via the app.

What we like best is that your panels will appear in the app exactly as how you have arranged them physically. Unplugging a panel and shifting the panel will be instantly reflected in the app. You don’t have to power the panels off at all.

You can change its brightness or color of the panels or to specify the transitional animation. You can also control the speed of all of the effects, along with fine details such as direction and smoothness. Once you save your own designed effects as a scene, you will be able to trigger them by a tap/schedule or by saying hey Siri, set the Relax scene for example.

The Aurora IFTTT channel is also available for even cooler integration such as changing scene based on weather, location, notification or even your phone battery level. If you have the Amazon Echo, you can also set connect it to the Nanoleaf Smarter Series Skill.

Promising Feature Pipeline

For home automation enthusiast and geeks, the Aurora API is already in beta, which means you can look forward to integrate it your existing home automation systems. Nanoleaf will also be launching speakers attachment so that your lights can dance to the beat. The panels will also come in shapes other than triangle (though we felt triangles are already the most versatile, squares are quite boring actually). Google Home support will also be available late 2017. With these promises, the geek in you will not hesitate to put this beautify piece of marriage between art and technology on your wall. The Nanoleaf Aurora is also available here.

Automate Asia Team

Read more

The first time we laid our eyes on Nanoleaf Aurora, we fell in love with it’s aesthetics. We’d even imagine having an entire wall full of the colorful, mesmerising LED panels.Well, that is if you have money to burn. In Singaporean context, we call it damn bloody chio LED panels that do not look beng at all!

First Impression

One of the most design centric connected home devices we’ve ever seen, the Nanoleaf Aurora is yet another iOS, Android and voice enabled smart lighting panels. Unlike the typical Philips Hue bulbs, these ultra bright LED panels are triangular, modular and are usually wall mounted. The Aurora panels work with Apple HomeKit, an iOS 10 smart home standards built into iPhones and iPads. With it’s latest firmware, it is also compatible with Amazon Echo. With all these, you can either toggle your lights and devices right from your phone’s Control Center, by using spoken Siri commands or by talking to your Amazon Echo speakers.

The starter pack with 9 LED panels cost SGD 399 (with local 3 years warranty). It sounds expensive but considering the price you pay for a Philip Hue starter kit with only 3 bulbs, the features, aesthetics and the flexibility of these panels seem to be quite worth the bucks.

Setup

Setting up the Aurora is entirely up to your own creativity. The panel connects to each other with a SIM card like connector that is rather fragile. The controller attachment connects to one of the panels and can power up to 30 panels. Yes, you start with 9 panels and can purchase additional sets of 3 panels at SGD129. The box doesn’t tell you much on the setup but provides you a few idea on how you can organise the panels. We guess the panels and the parts looks rather intuitive to connect and get going.

   

Once the panels are connected and the controller attachment powered up, simply download and launch the Nanoleaf app to sync them up to your phone. If you own an iPhone or iPad running iOS 10 and above, you will be able to connect it as a HomeKit device and start controlling them via Siri as well. For Android owner, you can control the lights only via the app.

What we like best is that your panels will appear in the app exactly as how you have arranged them physically. Unplugging a panel and shifting the panel will be instantly reflected in the app. You don’t have to power the panels off at all.

You can change its brightness or color of the panels or to specify the transitional animation. You can also control the speed of all of the effects, along with fine details such as direction and smoothness. Once you save your own designed effects as a scene, you will be able to trigger them by a tap/schedule or by saying hey Siri, set the Relax scene for example.

The Aurora IFTTT channel is also available for even cooler integration such as changing scene based on weather, location, notification or even your phone battery level. If you have the Amazon Echo, you can also set connect it to the Nanoleaf Smarter Series Skill.

Promising Feature Pipeline

For home automation enthusiast and geeks, the Aurora API is already in beta, which means you can look forward to integrate it your existing home automation systems. Nanoleaf will also be launching speakers attachment so that your lights can dance to the beat. The panels will also come in shapes other than triangle (though we felt triangles are already the most versatile, squares are quite boring actually). Google Home support will also be available late 2017. With these promises, the geek in you will not hesitate to put this beautify piece of marriage between art and technology on your wall. The Nanoleaf Aurora is also available here.

Automate Asia Team

Read more