Steve and I have been moving very cautiously into having a smart home. We started with a smart smoke detector with the Nest, then a couple of Hue lightbulbs came on the scene. We added a couple of Wemo switches somewhere along the line, and eventually a couple of security cameras, as I’ve told you about before. The one thing that really gave us pause was the idea of a smart door lock.
But then I started talking to that crazy Joe Dugandzic of Smarter Home Life, and he talked about his cool August Smart Lock. I was jealous, but I still didn’t jump. Then I listened to a podcast (and I wish for the life of me I could remember which one) where they talked about someone testing a whole pile of smart locks and determining which had good security models. The August Smart Lock was on the good list. Additionally, the August Smart Lock is HomeKit-compatible. It isn’t the only smart lock that’s HomeKit compatible, but that definitely played into our decision. If you’re a fan of Alexa, she can play with the August devices as well.
CES was a complete blast this year. We got to hang out with Dave Hamilton, John F. Braun, and Jeff Gamet. Oh, and Chuck Joiner was there too. We stayed at the same hotel, and traveled to the special press events together but then we pretty much scattered to do our own thing. We also got to hang out with Joe Dugandzic from Smarter Home Life. We dragged him along (kicking and screaming) to a DTNS meetup where we met a bunch of fun people. You’ve already heard Joe on Chit Chat Across the Pond from this week where we talked about his journey from Youtuber to full-time employee at Lynky, a smart home device company.
Then NosillaCastaway Joe LaGreca came out on Wednesday and we did the actual Convention Center walk. Steve and I did 28 interviews, 25 of which were at press events, and only 3 of which were at the Convention Center halls. The press events are 1-200 vendors, while the actual Convention Center is so darn huge it’s overwhelming. Plus by that time we’ve been there for three days and we’re kind of burned out!
I’ve always thought it might be interesting to look back on all of the products I’ve reviewed over the years and see what I’m still using. That would be a gargantuan effort, given that I’ve been doing this for over 12 years!
This is Denise Crown, and I have a confession. I’m obsessed with Hue Lights. I started with the Hue White and Color Ambiance Starter Kit and quickly fell in love. Before I knew what I was even doing, I had purchased flood lights for the kitchen, added bulbs to the bedroom, and purchased a Bloom and a Go Portable. I normally control them with either the Hue app on my iphone, or Amazon’s Echo Dot. The Echo Dot works well to control them, and has become my home automation integration tool of choice. It just works, and it works with everything I have.
What problems do the Hue Lights solve? Well, they are fun and a lack of fun is a big problem.
I asked the fabulous Joe Dugandzic to come back on the show to talk us through the comprehensive HomeKit compatible product guide he created. For a long time there weren’t a lot of HomeKit devices to enjoy but now that the market is filling up, having a really well organized page with all of the options is very valuable.
Joe has organized the page into categories rather than by vendor. He’s got lighting, outlets and sockets, wall dimmers & switches, security devices like locks and cameras, thermostats, ceiling fans and shades, fire and smoke detectors, specialized sensors like for air quality and water leaks, sand even smart buttons (which I think are dumb actually).
If you’re not of the HomeKit persuasion, every device on his site has a code for whether it’s also compatible with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, and he designates if it works in countries with 240 volt power or just 120. He also links to any video reviews he’s done on his YouTube channel at YouTube.com/smarterhomelife. With all this to go through, it’s a long show because I asked so many questions of Joe!
In my previous article I tried to give you the flavor of how to install the ecobee3 Smart Thermostat, and now let’s talk about how it actually works. But if after hearing more about it you feel tempted to buy one, don’t do it. My timing couldn’t be worse on this, because I just found out from Mark Pouley that ecobee will be revealing the ecobee4 next week!
From what I’ve been reading, it appears the new version will not just be a thermostat but will also be an Amazon Echo inside. In Mikah Sargent’s article on iMore, he explains that it’s not just going to have Alexa/Echo support, it will be one. Even if having Alexa (or another Alexa) in your house sounds cool, definitely hold off till the official announcement, and even if you don’t want that the price on the ecobee3 has dropped as a result so that’s cool too.
I think it’s a reasonable assumption that the functionality I like about the ecobee3 will be in the ecobee4, so let’s jump in and talk about it. I asked Steven Goetz to collaborate with me on this since he bought one just now too, and he’s done a lot more playing with his than I have.
We’ll have one more NosillaCast before we go off on our grand adventure to the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu, and while we’re gone please send in some audio reviews for Allister and Bart (email addresses in the show notes. I brag shamelessly about an article in the Atlantic about me and other people with specific musical anhedonia. I was on the Daily Tech News Show at a href=”http://www.dailytechnewsshow.com/dtns-2984-fintech-fish/” target=”_blank” rel=”no opener”>DTNS #2984 entitled “Fintech != fish” talking about what it was like to be a woman in engineering and tech for 35 years. I’ll tell a tale of how Bart and I cracked the code on my jerk of a printer using our knowledge of subnets and such, then I’ll tell you about the first HomeKit compatible indoor security camera, the D-Link OmnaHD. Then we’ll hear about a prosthetic implant that allows people with retinal degradation to see crude shapes, the Argus from Second Sight.
You’ve heard me complain about the setup process for virtually every device from the Amazon Echo to the Hue Lightbulbs, but this time it’s another story. D-Link just started shipping the Omna 180 Cam HD, the very first HomeKit-compatible indoor security camera and it’s fabulous.
Steve has been wanting an indoor security camera for a long time, but he wouldn’t go with one that wasn’t HomeKit compatible for security reasons. When the Omna was announced, I pre-ordered it directly from Apple, with the plan to give it to him on his birthday in April.
But then I realized two things. A) I couldn’t wait to give it to him, and B) having this installed before we go on a 2 week vacation makes more sense. We have a TSA Agent who lives in our house while we’re gone, but for when she’s not around this would be really useful. The other thing that helped my decision to give it to him early was that it arrived more than a week early!
Steve and I had the great pleasure of meeting Joe Dugandzic in the Home Automation pavilion at CES and I was lucky enough to get him on as a guest for Chit Chat Across the Pond. Joe runs the website and YouTube channel Smarter Home Life at smarterhomelife.com and youtube.com/smarterhomelife, We talked about the complexities of Home Automation today, predictions about who the winners might be as the industry consolidates, and some of the coolest Home Automation ideas he saw at CES. Joe is definitely our people – he’s enthusiastic, loves tech, and has a gift for simplifying tech for average consumers. His videos are amazing so go check them out (when you’re done listening to Chit Chat Across the Pond of course!)
Allison interviews Christopher Neal from Elgato about their Eve series of wireless indoor and outdoor sensors and controllers. These devices include window/door sensing, motion sensing, indoor and outdoor environmental sensing/control and irrigation sensing/control. All Eve devices can be monitored and controlled though the iOS Eve app. Elgato Eve devices are HomeKit enabled and they interoperate with hubs and products from other companies. The setting is the CES Conference show floor.