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We’ve been receiving tons of enquiry on whether we have tested Samsung SmartThings and if it is available in Singapore. Here we are, with a SmartThings Hub v2 in our hands. Here are some unboxing pictures. We expected nothing less (or more) from Samsung:
The Hub requires wired Ethernet and power connections. Plugging the Hub into your Ethernet router and a wall outlet should be one of the first steps of your SmartThings experience. The Ethernet connection lets the Hub communicate with the SmartThings app, the SmartThings cloud, and supported devices that rely on IP or cloud-to-cloud connections instead of ZigBee or Z-Wave.
This UK version Hub contains a ZigBee radio (2.4 GHz) and a Z-Wave radio (868 MHz). The Hub is said also future-ready to support Bluetooth (which means not really supported yet).
Also, to set the groundwork for future expansion, Hub v2 includes two USB ports. We hope that we can plug in some RF dongle to control other than Z-Wave and ZigBee devices.
For the fun of it, we got it to take a group picture with the 2 most popular Z-Wave gateway in Singapore.
So here’s how does the app look like:
One of the first few things we noticed are the marketplace. The marketplace allows users to add SmartApps to your system, similar to Vera’s and Fibaro’s plugin store. It also allows you to download, community developed plugins to control other IP devices like Sonos and IP camera.
The “Things” that SmartThings can support ranges from light bulbs, cameras, speakers, switches/dimmers and sensors. Despite only listing Aeon Labs Z-Wave devices as compatible, we tested it with Popp Wall Plug, Fibaro relay and MCO Home switch and controlled them without any issues. One thing to note is that for multichannel devices (i.e Fibaro 2*1.5kw relay), you will need to make some custom configuration to make it work.
We also tested the SmartThings hub with Sonos, installed a Smart App and made it such that if you turn on a Z-Wave switch, Sonos will play a certain radio channel. IFTTT seems very simple to setup, just that we don’t really buy the idea of having simple logic stored in the cloud.
Recommended for beginners who wants to quickly setup for off the shelf, plug and play IoT devices. All the setup can be made with the SmartThings app unlike the other gateways. However, this is also the limitation it places on Z-Wave devices that require users to change parameters to suit their needs. We have not found a straightforward way to change parameters of devices, so the Z-Wave devices are all running on default parameters. The constantly growing SmartApps library offers a wealth of options that let you find new ways to have your home automation devices work in harmony.
We know that there is a lot of commonly used Z-Wave and IP devices and we look forward to continue testing them with SmartThings.
In a month’s time, it would have been a year since Vera began redesigning its range of controllers automation. Around the same time last year, VeraEdge was released and this year, Vera Control will be releasing new hardware in December (postponed from November).
The VeraPlus will feature a more powerful hardware than Vera Edge, with more memory and a faster processor (details to be available) . To play catch up to the array of new gateways in the market, it will also include three new wireless communication protocols: ZigBee, Bluetooth and 433Mhz (take that Smart Things!).
The VeraSecure is touted to also support for a backup battery module, GSM module to maintain communications should there be an outage of internet connection, built-in siren, microphone and speaker for two-way communication.
UI7 would likely to be here to stay. Despite having stabilised since its debut in 2014 (kudos to Vera Control), we hope the faster hardware would improve the performance and expect a better response from their default app.
Recently we have implemented an unusual form of automation in one of our customer’s place. Most customers would like to automate their lightings, air-conditioning and curtains while we were asked to schedule the watering of their plants! The owner are frequent travellers who like their plants watered even when they are not at home. So we took up the challenge and worked together with the owner to come up with a plant watering system.
Personnally, I’ve always liked having plants in the house, minus the need to water them. In the process of putting together a system, we learnt a few important about watering of plants! Most of us (amatuer gardeners) would water our plants at different (not so precise) timing and would simply sprinkle water the leaves, pour waters on the soil. Actually the best way to water plants is as follows:
- Focus on the root zone. Remember that it’s the roots that need access to water, not the leaves. Wetting the foliage is a waste of water and can promote the spread of disease.
- Water only when needed. Automatic timersare especially useful; just make sure to watch the weather, and reduce frequency when rainfall is abundant. Too much water can be just as damaging to plants as too little.
- Water in the morning. If you do get moisture on the leaves, this gives them time to dry out. It’s much more difficult for plant diseases to get a foothold when the foliage is dry.
- Use the right tool. For efficient watering at the root zone, use a soaker hose or an even more precise drip irrigation system instead of a sprinkler.
With the above pointers in mind, an automated watering (dripping) system at specific timing would be perfect for watering plants.
The solution is actually quite simple once you have the parts. We installed a controller module near the balcony to control an electronic water valves in the balcony. This electronic water valve is in turn, connected to the distribution tubes which are fitted with drippers instead of sprinklers as shown:
Z-Wave control module near balcony
Electronic water valve
Distribution system connected to the valve
Each pot of plants are fitted with drippers
With the setup above, the plants are dripped at the roots (not sprinkled or drowned) every day at a specific time. The owner reported that their plants are “happier” and healthier with the precise dripping schedule. Furthermore, they can still choose to water their plants remotely even if they are on business and holiday trips. Happy dripping everyday!
Living Innovations Team
Source : Automate Asia
The Amazon Echo was released last year to a limited number of customers via invitation. I’ve gotten my invitation and it finally reached me 2 weeks ago. For those who do not know what an Echo is, this is their official YouTube video. The first time I saw Echo, like many home automation enthusiats, the first thing I can think of is, “Holy shit! I want to use it to voice control the Z-Wave system in my house!” So here we are, it is done and I’m going to show you how.
A video made during my initial test
A full feature video made by a fellow home automation enthusiast, in Ah Beng style as requested
What you need:
- Amazon Echo
- Amazon Echo app (You’ll need to get it from US play store or download an apk)
- A Windows/Linux/Mac machine
- Working Vera (2/3/Lite/Edge)
As usual, like my previous attempts to voice control using Siri, Google Now, I’ve never reinvent code anything from scratch but to just put together the hacks that are out there in the Internet. This solution does not need you to working with any SDK or programming. Sounds good already?
What we are trying to achieve is to make Amazon Echo believe that there is a Philips Hue bridge in the network. The Amazon Echo works with Philips Hue bulbs out of the box. So we are creating a Philips Hue bridge that receive command from Amazon Echo and directs it to your Vera system instead. Here’s the how to:
- Get the latest binary of the Amazon Echo Vera Bridge here
- Download the jar file (amazon-echo-bridge-0.1.3.jar) into a folder
- Make sure you have Java 8 JDK installed
- You will need your Windows/Linux/Mac’s IP address ready i.e 192.168.1.123
- Use command line/terminal to navigate to the folder where the jar file is
- Run the command with your IP address. In this example it is java -jar amazon-echo-bridge-0.1.3.jar –upnp.config.address=192.168.1.123
- Key in the URL in your browser with http://<yourIP>:8080/configurator.html. In this example it is http://192.168.1.123:8080/configurator.html and you should see the following in your browser
- Now you need to find the device ID of the light you want to control in your Vera. You also need to update the Vera Server IP address to that of yours. In my example, my study light has device ID 54 and my Vera IP address is 192.168.1.199.
- Once you click on add device and visit the URL http://192.168.1.123:8080/api/devices, you should see one device listed. I’ve done for many devices thus the output in the browser is as shown:
- Fire up the Amazon Echo app, go to Settings>Connected Home>Add new devices.
- Your Amazon Echo should begin searching for this bridge and will announce that it has found Philip Hue bulb(s), even though it is actually a Vera device. Once the devices are added your Echo app should display the connected home devices:
Here you go. You now have an always on voice assistance for your home. You can apply scenes and other devices other than light as long as you know the right URL to use. However, since we are mimicking a Philips Hue bridge, you’ll notice that you always have to say Alexa, turn on or turn off your device. In the case of curtains, door locks and scenes, the command will be a little awkward right now. With this, I hope you enjoy your Amazon Echo.
The topic of energy monitoring is not new. Even though the energy tariff in Singapore is not exactly the highest, it is definitely not low enough to ignore the need to gain insights from your energy consumption patterns and adjust your usage accordingly. It has also been a growing trend, especially with interests from home owners who rent out their apartments.
If you had explored the energy monitoring capabilities of Z-Wave products, you would have came across Z-Wave products like Aeon Labs Energy Clamps or Popp Smart Metering Wall Plugs. They have the capability to send energy usage of whole house or specific wall plugs to the Z-Wave gateway Vera Edge. Unfortunately, the out of the box energy monitoring function of Vera Edge is currently rather unstable and only works for a fraction of the time. Leaving customers the option of only watching current energy consumption instead of historical readings and trends.
Living Innovations has developed our solution to this problem. We have rolled out several implementations where customers can monitor trends, review cost and receive notifications on a daily basis from their smartphone app or browser.
All you need are the Vera Edge, an Aeon Labs Energy Clamps and couple of Popp Smart Metering Wall Plugs and our custom software plugins to have a holistic view of your energy consumption via an energy monitoring cloud. No more getting shocks from the utilities bill from Singapore Powers and wonder why and when on earth did you chalk up all the bill. Contact us for more details.
Living Innovation Team
Source : Automate Asia
“According to a recent IDC report (February 2015), the Internet of Things market size in Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) will grow from USD 408 billion in 2013 to USD 862 billion in 2020, a CAGR of 11.3%. Significant growth also is forecast in the number of autonomous intelligent/embedded systems, or “things”,that will connect to the internet in APeJ, with the number growing from 2.59 billion in 2013 to 8.98 billion in 2020.”
– IoT Asia 2015
For home automation market alone, it is estimated to contribute up to 1/10th of the figures above. Living Innovations is proud to have taken part in Internet of Things Asia 2015 from 8th to 10th April 2015 at the Singapore Expo Max Atria. Being the only exhibitor that demonstrated Z-Wave capabilities and interoperability, we thanked all the visitors for dropping by for their overwhelming interest in our demo setup at our booth.
We had great networking sessions and fun during the event. It was an eye opener to see an an explosion of new IoT-related solutions, including consumer wearables devices, smart home products and industrial IoT solutions, and these solutions are being increasingly adopted across the consumer, enterprise and government segments. We also had the honour to be invited as a speaker as well as the panel discussion with some of the industry leaders.
Here are some pictures of the event:
List of Exhibitors
Our slots for panel discussion and speaker session
Marketing support by Z-Wave Alliance
Clean and simple demo setup
Panel discussion with forerunners in IoT
Privileged to be invited to share smart home trends in Singapore
End of event, tired but rewarding
Living Innovation Team
Source : Automate Asia
Once again, apologies for the long absence of post. I’ve previously posted some pictures of the new Vera Edge on Home Automation Geeks but took a while to follow up a review. Considering many of the readers may be already familiar with Vera Lite and Vera 3, or may have researched a bit on Vera. Here a quick review of the Vera Edge.
Our first impression is the small form factor and more polished design of the Vera Edge. We can see clearly that it is way smaller than the Vera Lite. The Vera Edge has a price between the Vera Lite and Vera 3 and the manufacturer have also announced that the older 2 Vera will be discontinued. To me, the Vera Edge is more of a successor of Vera 3 as it also can double up as a wifi access point just like the Vera 3.
That being said, the difference is that the Vera3 by default, broadcasts an wifi SSID “vera_<serial number>” and you can connect directly with the wifi password printed on the underside of the Vera 3 even before setting up anything. For Vera Edge, it broadcast an ssid “mios_<serial_number>” and the wifi password cannot be found on the underside of the device. This means that unlike Vera 3, there is no way you can access the Vera Edge wifi until you’ve done the setup. We’ll come to how to get this wifi password later.
Unlike the Vera 3 (which comes with a separate battery pack) and Vera Lite (which comes with a battery compartment), it seems that Vera Edge does not need batteries to operate. We were pondering how do we move Vera Edge within a meter of light switches to perform inclusion and we realised later that the reason it didn’t need battery is that it is now doing a full power (long range) inclusion by default! Gone were the days you have to move your Vera to close to your Z-Wave device to perform and inclusion.
Another thing to note is that there isn’t any quick start guide or manual in the box. It simply ask users to go to home.getvera.com to begin setting up the Vera Edge. The wizard is a standard UI6/UI7 setup that we are familiar with but for new users, it can be improved as the wizard took quite some time to redirect users to the Vera Edge dashboard. The Vera Edge also performed an upgrade to the latest firmware which the wizard didn’t highlight.
Now here’s how you can get the wifi password of the Vera Edge. Once you had created an account in home.getvera.com, logout and login again. You will be presented with the following dashboard. Click on the “eye” icon to reveal the wifi password. This is also the ssh password should you need to perform a direct ssh into the Vera Edge (there is no reason you need to do this unless you are doing a factory reset or develop some plugins).
We have tested the Vera Edge and noted that even though it is running on the dreaded UI7, it is already working fine with Fibaro, Aeonlabs, Everspring and MCO Home devices. We previously had problem with the aircon controller Remotec ZXT-120 but now it is also working perfectly as it was in UI5. Although we didn’t like UI7 initially but we can really see that they are working hard to improve the compatibility. Do check on the latest UI7 release notes if you are not sure if certain device is working on UI7. Else you can always check back with us so that we can do a test.
Usage and Mobile Apps
We are not going to go through the UI, so here’s a video from Vera Control to give you a better idea.
Another thing we feel it can be improved on UI7 is that constant spinning green indicator for every action we did. The delay we get when we use the default mobile app Vera UI7 Mobile (both Android and iOS) is terrible (we keep seeing the spinning green indicator), so we recommend third party apps that are tested to work with UI7, such as, Imperihome for Android and Homewave or Veramate for iOS.
Plugins and Downgrad-ability
We also tested with some of the plugins that used to only work in UI5 and are pleasantly surprised that the Autovera, Milight and Sonos plugins are already working in UI7! We also tried to downgrade the Vera Edge to UI5 but with no success. The UI simply reject the UI5 firmware, so we guessed we really have to say goodbye to UI5 with Vera Edge.
Even though we didn’t like UI7, it seems that Vera Control (used to call Micasaverde) is working hard to make Vera Edge a more end user friendly product and yet has the flexibility of the old UI5. Documentation on Vera Edge and UI7 is quite limited but they have created a YouTube channel to guide new users. It is already working well for normal usage (i.e controlling of lights, curtains and aircons etc) but more lacking for advanced users. Give them half a year to improve or you can also consider getting a Fibaro Home Center Lite just to play safe.
If you are planning to turn your home into a smart home then you must go for home automation systems. Whether it is concerned to security of your home or you wish to control the appliances, these automation solutions serve you with everything.
In the busy schedules of today’s life, men have always been craving for how to make life most comfortable. Some buy spa equipment, some go for home entertainment systems and some select various other electronic gadgets, just make the daily processing easy and stress free. In the recent years, a large number of people have moved on with a new technology available in the market, home automation systems. These systems make life comfy and easier, saving your time and efforts.
Check out some of the amazing device that makes your home a better and comfortable place to live in:
It is a simple and perfect solution for those who are looking for a cost effective security system. Now, you don’t need to worry anymore about your house safety as you can keep an eye on your home remotely. It is amazing device which helps you to guard your house, alerting you for the intrusions. It has a self-built camera that makes it ideal to monitor the surroundings too. Also it has humidity and air quality monitor, with a siren too. In all, this smart device keeps thieves away from your home.
Tablet mounts are another amazing option for making use of technology for comforting oneself. On one hand it safeguards your expensive device and on another, it gives a better view. You can use the tablet mounts for your wall or desk as per your needs. If you want to keep it safe from the children, a wall tablet mount will work well for you. And a desk mount will be optimum if you need to carry out office work at home. For extremely automation freak people, tablet mounts can be used in cars as well. These mounts are easily removable and don’t leave any traces on the interior of your loving vehicle. Now you can easily use your tablet on longer trips, especially for navigation app!
It is a great device especially for those who yearn for complete rest at their home. With Homey, you have full access to control all the connected devices and appliances. It works either through a Homey app or with voice commands. This amazing device supports ZigBee, Bluetooth 4.0 and various other radio modules. So now, you can ask Homey to turn on the lights of your living room, close the blinds of your bedroom, select a movie, and much more.
Besides, there are several automated devices which can help you in daily life. All of these are designed to provide maximum benefits to human and they ideally do the same.
Richard Bach is the E-Commerce Manager of Cotytech, a company which deals with designing and manufacturing of flat screen mounting solutions like TV wall mount, car mounts, etc. He frequently writes on various technology products, sharing his views on the products that brings forth a better vision.
A capacitive touch z-wave wall switch is something that was missing from the market for the longest time. Vitrum Z-Wave wall switch, costing more than SGD 200 even for one gang, has been around for sometime but the price was simply beyond the reach of many hobbyists or home owners.
Many readers have also been asking if Livolo capacitive touch switches could work with Fibaro relays hoping to achieve something like Vitrum. Unfortunately, Fibaro relays only work with mechanical wall switches. The electronics embedded in a Livolo switch will send the Fibaro relay into a frenzy of on and off cycles.
The wait is finally over!! Introducing the MCO Home Z-Wave switches (ok that sounds a little cliche). From this point onwards, I’m just going to keep it short and sweet, filling this post with pictures of the long awaited switch.
The switch comes in a brown box similar to Xiaomi phones. The box contains, obviously the switch, a steel mounting frame and mounting screws.
The plastic casing of the switch has a quality matt finish and feels much more quality than those of a TKB or any other China made switches.
The switch fits a standard 86mm x 86mm pattress box and one thing to note is that it will definitely not fit a standard surface mount 35mm depth box. Thus it a 45mm box surface mount box or a flush mount box will be required.
Instead of the usual triple click to include the switch to Vera (nothing to click in the first place), it is done by holding any button for 3 seconds. When the load is off, there is a dim red glow on the indicator. Turning the load on, the indicator turns into a bright green glow (we were hoping it is blue though).
The connector ports of the 2 gang touch switch is definitely more idiot proof compared to Fibaro and yes, a neutral wire is required.
What we like about this switch is the mounting frame that came with it. If you have used a Livolo switch before, you will need to pry open the glass portion before securing the switch onto the pattress box. Sometimes it is difficult to put the glass portion back to the Livolo switch. For MCO Home, you simply secure the mounting frame and clip the entire switch onto the frame. Genius!
The switch comes in one, two and four gangs but we only managed to get our hands on the two and four gang switch (Yes! Finally something more than 2 gang!). The price tag of the MCO Home switch is so much more affordable than Vitrum with a price of less than SGD200 for a four gang switch. Lastly, here’s a video of the response and the status update of the switch when used with Vera:
The switch is now available on Automate.Asia
I’ve always gotten enquires like “what can be used as CCTV for home automation”. As far as I know, Vera or Fibaro Home Center 2 does not integrate with the conventional CCTV. However, if you want some form of surveillance camera to work with your home automation system, you can try integrating Foscam IP cameras to your Vera or Home Center 2.
Today, I’m going to show you how to integrate a Foscam IP camera namely FI8910W with a Vera running firmware 1.5.762.
The Foscam FI8910W has PTZ IP camera a VGA lens with night vision and 2-way audio. I will not be covering much on how to setup the camera for normal (non integrated) use but I would say it does require you to be a little tech savvy (as the documentations are not very well written) to setup this camera compared to brands link D’Link etc. However, the image quality is good and the features suits most basic. Furthermore, with a price tag of SGD119, it is definitely value for money.
You can refer to this article on how to setup from scratch but I’d jump straight into setting it up with your Vera. Once you have setup the camera in your home network, before you can include the camera in Vera, you’ll need to install this plugin (Foscam IP Camera) from the Vera store. Please make sure you do not the plugin (VistaCam SD, PT & HD for UI5) installed. If so, you will have to uninstall it to continue.
Once you have installed the plugin, go to Devices>Add Devices>”I want to add an IP Camera”.
Then click on “Manually Add” and you will be brought to a screen with a list of devices on your network.
Select the line with the IP Camera’s IP address and you will be brought to the following page. In this page, select Foscam Camera, key in the URL in this format:
http://<your camera ip address>/snapshot.cgi?user=<your userid>&pwd=<yourpassword> (you should test the URL in your web browser first. It should show a snapshot from your camera)
and also key in the userid and password in the 2 fields as well. Yes, you are having your userid and password all over the place but this is the only way to make it work.
Click on “Next” and if you don’t see the image in the page as shown below, it is fine. Just click on “Add”
Save, Reload and Refresh your Vera page. Your Foscam IP Camera should appear on your Vera UI.
You may see “Camera Not Responding” as the image. Don’t fret, just click on the spanner and click on Settings. Make sure the URL is populated with /snapshot.cgi?user=<your userid>&pwd=<yourpassword> , the userid , password, ip address (without http) and MAC address filled up. You might have extra “/” before the /snapshot.cgi. Remove it.
Click on Advanced and you should see the values as shown below. Similarly, make sure you do not have extra “/” in the URL as it tends to for some weird reason.
Once every thing is rectified as shown, Save and Reload your Vera UI. You should be able to see the Foscam IP camera properly added with image. You will also be able to do pan and tilt from the Vera UI.
With this, even when you are using common Vera apps on Google Play Store such as AuthomationHD/Imperihome, the camera image will be also displayed on the app. Once again you have everything shown in 1 single app instead of having to use an app for home control and another to view your camera. You can even configure the camera to work with your door or motion sensor with scenes from now on.
Now the Foscam IP camera plugin only works with camera with MPEG stream. So what if you want to us a better resolution camera with 720p video? There is a way to make it work with Foscam model that stream in H.264 which will be covered in the next article. So stay tuned.
Latest Smart Home Articles
We’ve been receiving tons of enquiry on whether we have tested Samsung SmartThings and if it is available in Singapore. Here we are, with a SmartThings Hub v2 in our hands. Here are some unboxing pictures. We expected nothing less (or more) from Samsung: The Hub requires wired Ethernet…
In a month’s time, it would have been a year since Vera began redesigning its range of controllers automation. Around the same time last year, VeraEdge was released and this year, Vera Control will be releasing new hardware in December (postponed from November). The VeraPlus will feature a more powerful hardware than Vera…
Recently we have implemented an unusual form of automation in one of our customer’s place. Most customers would like to automate their lightings, air-conditioning and curtains while we were asked to schedule the watering of their plants! The owner are frequent travellers who like their plants watered even when they…
The Amazon Echo was released last year to a limited number of customers via invitation. I’ve gotten my invitation and it finally reached me 2 weeks ago. For those who do not know what an Echo is, this is their official YouTube video. The first time I saw Echo, like…
The topic of energy monitoring is not new. Even though the energy tariff in Singapore is not exactly the highest, it is definitely not low enough to ignore the need to gain insights from your energy consumption patterns and adjust your usage accordingly. It has also been a growing trend, especially…
“According to a recent IDC report (February 2015), the Internet of Things market size in Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) will grow from USD 408 billion in 2013 to USD 862 billion in 2020, a CAGR of 11.3%. Significant growth also is forecast in the number of autonomous intelligent/embedded systems,…