The Smart Home – Where to Begin?

Whilst I’m working on my door lock I’ve been looking at other forms of home automation as well. I’m going to be moving home in the new year and for the first time we will own rather than buy which gives me a great excuse to install tech everywhere. We’re also going to be remodelling the entire house which means a great time to wire in all my gadgets.

I’ve been looking at a lot of smart home technologies in my quest to get my entire world in an online Internet-of-Things scenario. Many of the things I’ve looked at are cool but not unified. The key things I’m looking for are:

  • Temperature control (considered Nest and Honeywell options) – ideally controlling the TRVs on my radiator as well as the central thermostat
  • Lighting (Philips Hue is the obvious contender)
  • Smart locks (writing my own since UK doors seem to be neglected by a lot of the cooler options like the Goji)
  • CCTV integration to trigger things off
  • Bluetooth beacons to be used as part of the intelligence
  • Remote control via mobile app
  • Everything integrated together

Now part of me has been considering waiting to see what comes out with Apple’s product offering.  It has been just announced that HomeKit plans are starting to be submitted for official approval.

The last major project I worked on was a full in-car entertainment system powered off a Raspberry Pi and using an iPad for a screen.  Shortly after I got it working reasonably well Apple came along with Carplay and aftermarket providers like Pioneer then came out with solutions for existing cars.  This rendered my project, which was nowhere near as sleek, pretty useless and my product far inferior in terms of usability.  I don’t really want the same to happen again.

I was talking to a friend tonight who has just ordered a Razberry Z-Wave Controller for his Raspberry Pi.  I must admit I’ve not given much of a look to many of the “all in one” solutions.  The last thing I worked on was X10 about five years ago and it put me off the other systems as well.  The X10 was slow, had really bulky units and was difficult to integrate with.

I’m waiting some testing from my friend to see how quickly he ends up getting it working and how rapidly devices response as that was my biggest bug-bear with the X10.  Slide the dimmer on my iPad and wait 5 seconds before the lights actually kicked in.  If things are looking good then I may well go with my own solution for a few of these things based off X-Wave, integrate my custom smart lock, use some RPIs as CCTV and still tie in with Philips Hue as their lighting is just cool.

We shall see but I have a feeling this may be a long running project that gets canned when Apple’s option comes out in the new year.


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