Tag Archives: home-automation

Eco lets you control any smart home device from a single app

What the universal remote did for audio and video equipment, Eco wants to do for home automation.

With aspirations of making tomorrow’s home not only smart but energy efficient, one Newport Beach-based startup has developed a new automation system designed with your family’s best interests in mind. Using its patent-pending technology and the Amazon Echo engine, Eco Automation believes its latest product line will finally offer you a seamless way to control all of your smart devices from a single app or through Jarvis-like voice commands.


Impressively, Eco’s energy efficient home automation system incorporates all of today’s most popular technologies into one small package, helping reduce power consumption and consolidating control in one place. Just like a universal remote for your audio and video equipment, Eco wants to be the all-in-one controller for all things home automation by making connecting to and managing any kind of gadgetry a breeze. Using its Eco Touch Display, users can simply scan the barcode of any device or sensor to quickly add them to the system in seconds.

The platform itself is comprised of several units. These include a Technology Bridge, an Eco Energy Meter, Eco Smart MultiSensor Switches,  Eco Smart MultiSensors and Eco Door/Window Sensors.

Eco’s universal bridge supports nine different protocols, such as Z-Wave, Zigbee, Thread, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, providing you the largest range of product combinations and automation possibilities. What’s more, an expansion slot inside makes the system essentially future-proof, giving you with ability to add a new protocol whenever necessary.

Eco is also incredibly easy to setup. Mount your wireless Smart MultiSensors throughout the house, link Eco to your network and download its accompanying app. With your smartphone, you can now tap for quick access to commands and automation scenes, create new rules or edit synced gadgets, among countless other things. You can even assign a digital key to any of your contacts and grant them temporary access to your home or office.


Next, the Eco Eco Energy Meter lets you closely monitor real-time power consumption and solar production down to the microsecond. These power reads, combined with the Eco Intelligent Energy Conservation Engine, help you identify areas that you could be saving more energy in your home.

Meanwhile, Eco Smart MultiSensor Switches allow you to toggle your lights and power outlets. Not only can it be changed from a multi-level dimmer to an on/off switch with the push of a button, it features built-in voice commands as well.

In order to give it the true Tony Stark effect, Eco employs Amazon’s voice engine. This enables you to talk directly to the system via the Eco Touch Remote, the Eco Smart Switch, or by just using an Amazon Echo’s speaker.

“Because of Eco’s cross platform abilities, the possibilities are almost unlimited and will only be subject to your minds imagination. Eco has all the basic’s right out of the box such as home security with streaming video capabilities that can be monitored for your safety 24/7, real-time energy usage, individual room or location lighting control, comfort with HVAC control and ease of access with door lock control,” its creators write.

Among the many things Eco can do are notify you when a guest approaches your front door by flashing a light, sending a message to your phone as a loved arrives home, offer a friendly reminder to take out trash as you head out, and even give off the impression of a lived-in home while away.

Sound like the home automation system for you? Head over to its Indiegogo campaign, where the team is currently seeking $100,000. Delivery is slated for April 2016.


Profile of an IoT processor for the industrial and consumer markets

 If there’s a single major stumbling block that is hindering the IoT take-off at the larger industrial scale, it’s security.

The intersection of data with intelligent machines is creating new possibilities in industrial automation, and this new frontier is now being increasingly known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). However, if there is a single major stumbling block that is hindering the IoT take-off at the larger industrial scale, it’s security.

It’s imperative to have reliable data in the industrial automation environment, and here, the additional security layers in the IoT hardware often lead to compromises in performance. Then, there is counterfeiting of products and application software, which is becoming a growing concern in the rapidly expanding IoT market.


Atmel’s answer to security concerns in the IIoT infrastructure: a microprocessor (MPU) that can deliver the security while maintaining the level of performance that Internet-connected systems require. The company’s Cortex A5 chip — the Atmel | SMART SAMA5D4 — securely stores and transfers data, as well as safeguards software assets to prevent cloning of IoT applications.

The SAMA5D4 series of MPUs enables on-the-fly encryption and decryption of software code from the external DRAM. Moreover, it boasts security features such as secure boot, tamper detection pins and safe erasure of security-critical data. The A5D4 processor also incorporates ARM’s system-wide security approach, TrustZone, which is used to secure peripherals such as memory and crypto blocks. TrustZone —comprising of security extensions that can be implemented in a number of ARM cores — is tightly integrated into ARM’s Cortex-A processors. It runs the processor in two different modes: First, a secure environment executes critical security and safety software, and secondly, a normal environment runs the rich OS software applications such as Linux. This lets embedded designers isolate critical software from OS software.

The system approach allows control access to CPU, memories, DMA and peripherals with programmable secure regions. That, in turn, ensures that on-chip parts like CPU and off-chip parts like peripherals are protected from software attacks.


Performance Uplift

The Atmel SMART | SAMA5D4 processor is based on the Cortex-A5, the smallest and simplest of the Cortex-A series cores that support the 32-bit ARMv7 instruction set. It’s targeted at applications requiring high-precision computing and fast signal processing — that includes industrial and consumer applications such as control panels, communication gateways and imaging terminals.

The use cases for SAMA5D4 span from kiosks, vending machines and barcode scanners, to smart grid, communications gateways and control panels for security, home automation, thermostats, etc. Atmel’s MPU features peripherals for connectivity and user interface applications. For instance, it offers a TFT LCD controller for human-machine interface (HMI) and control panel applications and a dual Ethernet MAC for networking and gateway solutions.

Apart from providing high-grade security, SAMA5D4 adds two other crucial features to address the limitations of its predecessor, SAMA5D3 processor. First, it uplifts performance through ARM’s NEON DSP engine and 128kB L2 cache. The NEON DSP with 128-bit single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) architecture accelerates signal processing for more effective handling of multimedia and graphics. Likewise, L2 cache enhances data processing capability for imaging applications.

The second prominent feature of the SAMA5D4 is video playback that boasts 720p resolution hardware video decoder with post-image processing capability. Atmel’s embedded processor offers video playback for H.264, VP8 and MPEG4 formats at 30fps.

A Quick Overview of the SAMA5D4

The SAMA5D4 processor, which got a 14 percent performance boost from its predecessor MPU, increasing operating speed to 528 MHz, is a testament of the changing microprocessor market in the IoT arena. Atmel’s microprocessor for IoT markets delivers 840 DMIPS that can facilitate imaging-centric applications hungry for processing power. Aside from that, the SAMA5D4 is equipped with a 32-bit wide DDR controller running up to 176 MHz, which can deliver up to 1408MB/s of bandwidth. That’s a critical element for high-speed peripherals common in the industrial environments where microprocessors are required to process large amounts of data.


Finally, the SAMA5D4 is configurable in either a 16- or 32-bit bus interface allowing developers a trade-off between performance and memory cost. There are four distinct chips in the SAMA5D4 family: SAMA5D41 (16-bit DDR), SAMA5D42 (32-bit DDR), SAMA5D43 (16-bit DDR along with H.264 video decoder)and SAMA5D44 (32-bit DDR along with H.264 video decoder).

The SoC-specific hardware security and embedded vision capabilities are a stark reminder of specific requirements of different facets of IoT, in this case, industrial and consumers markets. And Atmel’s specific focus on security and rich media just shows how the semiconductor industry is getting around the key IoT stumbling blocks.

Majeed Ahmad is the author of books Smartphone: Mobile Revolution at the Crossroads of Communications, Computing and Consumer Electronics and The Next Web of 50 Billion Devices: Mobile Internet’s Past, Present and Future.

ivee lets you control your smart home with your voice

ivee Voice will make you feel like Tony Stark in no time.

Voice recognition technology is in the house! While Amazon Echo, Google Now and Siri may’ve stolen the spotlight for voice-controlled IoT devices thus far, a new player is looking to enter the mix. The brainchild of one Bay Area startup, ivee Voice is a multi-room system that enables you to seamlessly connect all of the gadgetry and services throughout your smart home, and then command them using your words. Sounds like the ‘90s Disney flick Smart House, right?


Much like the others, ivee is a connected speaker-microphone combination that can help you boss around your in-home appliances,he lights, stream music, alert you of any traffic jams and even find answers to your inquiries on Wikipedia.

The hub, which kind of resembles an upside-down giant golf tee, is capable of processing voice requests up to 15 feet away. What’s more, commands can be customized “scenes” using an accompanying mobile app (iOS and Android). This means, you can configure phases like “bedtime” to close the blinds, dim the lights and emit some relaxing jazz music as you prepare to fall asleep. Conversely, you can set the term “party” to activate a series of multi-colored Hue lights, blast a few hip-hop tunes and unlock the front door for arriving guests. The possibilities are endless!


Not only can it tell you the weather and inform of your of your day’s agenda, ivee can play music via Spotify, summon an Uber ride, and alert fast-response emergency services for our elders. Plus, the startup says that its system is compatible with the likes of Hue, Nest, WeMo, Harmony, SmartThings and Wink, among several other of today’s most popular IoT platforms.

Standing at only five inches tall and weighing in at a pound, ivee will inconspicuously fit in — whether that’s on a nightstand, a coffee table or even somewhere near the entertainment center. The unit is built around a high-end ARM-based processor, uses Wi-Fi for communication and runs Linux. Aside from that, it is equipped with a light sensor, an LED ring, a 2.5W speaker and a pair of omnidirectional mics.

Using voice control is actually rather quick and easy. To get started, simply say “Okay ivee,” which will prompt its LEDs to illuminate in blue. From there, tell her what you need or ask your question. ivee will then process your request and voilà!


According to its creators, ivee was designed to be completely open source and flexible. And by 2016, the team hopes to launch an API that will let developers add and create their own voice applications. Interested in a Tony Stark home of your own? Head over to Ivee’s Indiegogo campaign, where the team is closing in on its $50,000 goal. Units are expected to begin shipping in April 2016.

Automating an old sprinkler controller with Moteino

Maker upgrades his sprinkler controller by integrating it with his Monteino home automation gateway.

It seems like everyone across the U.S. is experiencing a drought these days. So when it comes to conserving water, an older sprinkler system may not be the most efficient in doing the job. Cognizant of this, Felix Rusu decided to channel his inner Maker and to upgrade his unit by integrating the outdated irrigation controller with his home automation gateway. This, of course, enabled him to define his own schedule and control it wirelessly from his smartphone, among a few other things.


“I took apart the sprinkler controller to figure out how it works. There are two boards, one hosts the 24VAC TRIACs and circuitry that powers the solenoids. The other was a controller board with user interface, LCD, buttons etc. This gets power from the first board and controls the TRIACs through a ribbon cable. A quick continuity test reveals the pins of the ribbon connector control the gates of the TRIACs, simple enough,” the Maker explains.

At the heart of it all lies a Moteino (ATmega328). To interface it with the sprinkler system, Rusu first had to create a PCB interface. This board, which he calls the IOShield, features a buck power supply that regulates the 24VAC power of the sprinkler down to 5VDC for the MCU and two 74HC595 shift registers. The output from the shift registers are connected to a pin header where the stock computer would normally have been plugged in. It should also be noted that the IOShield is daisy-chainable and features 16 channels along with 16 indicator LEDs.


“I have nine sprinkler zones, but one IOShield will support up to 16 outputs. I can use the TRIAC board and only tap into the nine zones that are active,” Rusu writes. “I can just use the first board with all the TRIACs and then replace the clunky standalone sprinkler controller board with the IOShield+Moteino combo for completely wireless control and integration to the gateway.”

With some programming and an accompanying mobile app, the new board is able to take over the sprinkler’s TRIACs, enabling him to turn on and off the zones with a touch of a finger. Intrigued? You can read all about the Maker’s project here, or listen to his detailed overview below.

[h/t Hackaday]

Project Jarvis is your very own Tony Stark-like home automation system

This A.I. assistant can make smart decisions based on environmental factors.

A Maker by the name of IamTeknik once again has his sights set on the Hackaday Prize crown with the latest iteration of Project Jarvis, an affordable, Arduino-powered home automation system. Inspired by Iron Man’s A.I. assistant, the DIY solution is capable of controlling nearly every aspect of a modern-day house, while helping save on electricity. Great for you, your wallet and your environment, it’s no wonder the hacker’s artificial intelligence-based system was named a semi-finalist in last year’s Hackaday contest.


As the world around us becomes increasingly connected, this environmental home manager can make even the ‘dumbest’ of houses smart. Not only can the system help save energy and reduce monthly bills, IamTeknik says his project can lend a helping hand in a number of daily tasks. These include fetching a coffee in the morning, waking you up with the weather forecast or keeping you company when alone. Having trouble with some homework or just too lazy to go hit the light switch? Lucky for you, Jarvis can solve complex math problems and command home lighting through verbal cues — all for under $200.

“It’s all driven by sophisticated hardware and software to help make your life, and the life of others, much better,” the Maker notes. What’s more, Jarvis can handle reading notifications, SMS messages and social network feeds, and can go as far as replying to each of them if told what to write through its built-in speech-to-text technology.


“This is present on the mobile and computer apps but the Android app can even use text if you are not in the mood to speak. If you have speakers and microphones set-up in you house or room, Jarvis is accessible simply by saying his name at any time,” IamTeknik adds.

Aside from being controlled via voice recognition, its accompanying computer app works on Linux, Mac, Windows and Solaris, and can be configured for remote access. According to the Maker, he has already embedded NFC technology into the solution and is currently working on employing gesture recognition, too. This way, a homeowner can have Jarvis perform an action by tapping a smartphone to a tag or waving a hand.


In order to be both energy and cost-effective, electricity usage from each room is logged by an SD card on an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560). The code on the board interacts with a more complex neural network, which has been programmed in a separate application. Using the environment and its sensors, its software can then make intelligent decisions to help beat the current month’s data that is still on the SD card.

“You don’t need to pull out your phone and ask Jarvis to do something, he is always there. Jarvis is wherever you are, in the home, office and in your pocket if you use our Android mobile app.”


Jarvis can also manage a home’s infrastructure in order to ensure environmental efficiency. Say for instance a light is left on or a charger is left plugged in, Jarvis can sense this and turn off the device, thus lowering the home’s energy consumption. Tired of having to turn back around to make sure you turned off the stove? With Project Jarvis, just log in to the app and switch ’em off manually — or let the system do it automatically.

Jarvis truly is the next step in home automation. When watching an Iron Man movie, you can’t help but wonder what it would be like to have a personal assistant like Tony Stark’s. And thanks to projects like this one, the omnipresent virtual assistant is inching closer and closer to reality.


When complete, Jarvis will feature a fingerprint scanner, an automated door lock and a wall-mounted tablet. With plenty of parts still in development, the Maker has rendered a black box that will house all of the system’s wireless transceivers and hardware. Moving ahead, he hopes to incorporate sensors that track sleep patterns and monitor temperature, humidity and light. Intrigued by this futuristic project? Head over to its official Hackaday.io page here for a more detailed breakdown of the build.

Building a low-cost home automation and security system

This DIY wireless system will connect and protect your home for less than $230.

With the emergence of connected devices in and around our homes, Maker Sounak Ranjan Das has set out to create an automation system that isn’t only affordable but secure as well. As one of the latest entries in this year’s Hackaday Prize, the basic framework of the wireless solution consists of just enough equipment for a two-room apartment. Both rooms are outfitted with a PIR motion sensor and a two-channel relay to automatically control the appliances.


In an effort to boost security, the Maker has installed an RFID entry system along with a magnetic door switch. Meanwhile, his windows are also equipped with an obstacle sensor to prevent unauthorized break-ins.

“The obstacle sensor sensitivity will be calibrated such that it does not detect a false positive while opening or closing the windows. All the devices will be acting as wireless nodes and will be interacting only with the main controller,” Das explains.

The controller, which is based on an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328), is tasked with collecting all of the data from each node throughout the rooms and carrying out tasks as required by the automation system. This unit will serve as a Wi-Fi gateway and transmit all of the necessary sensor data to Thingspeak. This allows for the data to be viewed remotely via a mobile device. Beyond that, the Arduino controller will also feature a GSM module, in the event there is no Internet service or Wi-Fi connection.


Seeing as though the sensor and actuator nodes are wireless, Das emphasizes the necessity of them being ultra low-power. In other words, they should be capable of running on the same battery for at least a year. He adds, “Since Thingspeak can only parse data once every 15 seconds, we will be putting our nodes into sleep for 16 seconds using the Low Power Library from Rocket Scream.”

While the project itself may be in its rudimentary stages at the movement, the Maker hopes to beef up the system with surveillance cameras, an on-board OLED display and even a keypad for password-based access control in the near future.

Intrigued? Head over to the project’s official Hackaday.io page.

This Arduino-compatible board makes it easy to automate your home

This versatile, AVR-based board allows users to easily program their own home automation systems.

Though the number of smart home devices continue to rise, a number of consumers still remain a bit hesitant in shelling out the big bucks to automate their homes. Instead, many Makers have already begun to devise connected in-house gadgets using easy-to-use platforms like Arduino and Raspberry Pi. With this in mind, one Miami-based startup has launched a Kickstarter campaign for an ATmega328P based board that looks to help streamline the process for Makers looking to install home automations of their own using the Arduino IDE.


Created by the GarageLab team, the aptly-named Automation Board packs a wide range of features including relay triggering, Wi-Fi, Internet connectivity, various sensors, as well as RS-485 communication. The extremely versatile platform is entirely compatible with the Arduino Uno, and offers all of the necessary resources one would require to create a smart home system.

With its power source soldered onto the unit itself, the device is charged from the electrical grid with voltages between 100 to 240VAC and 50-60Hz, making it adaptable to any grid around the globe. It also has four relays to trigger alarms, electronic locks, fans, lamps or any other compatible load.


Knowing all too well that connecting sensors can be a tedious task for Makers, the Automation Board was designed to expedite the process. Meaning, the pins that are ready to link to a sensor can be either digital or analog, and include 5V and ground. This lets users attach several kinds of sensors, ranging from an IR sensor to create communication with a TV remote or motion to trigger an alarm.

Similar to the incredibly popular Arduino platform, the Automation Board offers tremendous expandability through the use of shields. What’s more, the platform allows for RS-485 connection, ideal for applications in industrial automation systems or in settings with electromagnetic interference. It should be pointed out that users will be able to utilize spcific programs to integrate with existing professionals systems as well.


Through its dedicated headers for XBee modules, Makers will be able to connect as many Automation Boards as they wish to a network. Beyond that, they can wirelessly communicate with a PC via a simple XBee Dongle USB, or even access their automation system over the web using a SparkFun WiFly module.

“In order to make your system even more versatile, we’ve created this ‘Sidekick’ board as a very interesting accessory. It’s compact and can be powered directly from the electrical grid as it has connectors for XBee and 2 relays,” the GarageLab crew writes. “This board can be controlled by signals sent from an Automation Board, allowing it to trigger distant loads through a wireless network. You will be able to use as many ‘Sidekicks’ as you wish, triggering several charges in a same wireless installation.”


Are you thinking of using an Arduino to automate your home? Hurry over to the Automation Board’s Kickstarter campaign, where the GarageLab team is currently seeking $3,000. Delivery is expected to begin in August 2015.

Flash your headlights to open your garage door

Tired of always having to hit a remote to enter your garage? Just blink your lights three times. 

If you’re tired of always having to hit a remote to enter your garage, you’re in luck. That’s because Maker Luis Rodrigues has designed a DIY automation system that opens the door by simply flashing his headlights at it.


How it works is relatively simple: Blink three times and the garage door will open. Flash another three and it’ll pause. Three more times and it’ll shut. Rodrigues also has an outer gate to his home, which he coupled with the system. This enables him to hold the lights for more than a second, and both the door and the outer gate will be activated.

This is all made possible by connecting a control box under the hood of his car to the headlight’s output. A Moteino — a low-power, RF Arduino variant based on the ATmega328P — reads the input signal of the headlights flashing three times, and then communicates wirelessly to the garage door, which houses a second Moteino, in order to open it. And as you can imagine, another wireless board can be found inside the gate’s box.


Upon first glance, you may wonder as to how safe this system can truly be. In other words, can’t anyone flicker their lights to access the door? The answer is no, the system is specific to only his car.

Watch it in action below!

Automating your home with human-like senses

Maker creates an entire home automation system using Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

Over the years, we’ve seen a number of innovative projects using both Raspberry Pi and Arduino boards. And, this latest convergence surely doesn’t disappoint! With the Internet of Things infiltrating nearly every facet of our life, Maker Eric Tsai recently decided to design a slick home automation platform that could do just about anything from in and around the house.


Rather than simply use the ‘duino-Pi combination to automate things such as blinds or lights, the Maker elected to outfit his home with a full range of wireless sensor nodes on everything (and everywhere) that needed monitoring. Think of it as equipping your house with human-like senses. These nodes relay the data to a wireless gateway and the Arduino Uno (ATmega328), which in turn sends the data to the Raspberry Pi. The board then uploads the collected data to the web where owners can monitor their homes directly from their smartphones.

“Using this setup, that boatload of cheap sensors can now be on the Internet. They can email you when things get too hot, too cold, too smokie, too gassy, or too bright. And your dog can email you by barking. You can also view the status of sensors on your smartphone. These sensor nodes are wireless, so you’re not constrained by the location of Ethernet ports,” he writes.


The concept first originated as a way for Tsai to be immediately notified when his dog barked; however, that idea quickly turned into a project for the entire home, which included a variety of long range wireless sensors integrated into a sophisticated open-source automation server.

On the software side, the project is based on the OpenHAB program, which makes the system available through web browser and smartphone. What’s more, the communication between the display device and the Raspberry Pi is securely accomplished via encryption and authentication.


One area in particular worth mentioning is the Uber Sensor and the washer-dryer module. For the Uber Sensor, Tsai packed everything possible into the Arduino, including a sound sensor to detect when a cycle starts ends, a PIR presence sensor to determine when a load is picked up, a water detection circuit to signify if there is a leak or overflow, a light sensor to know when a laundry room light is left on, and a temperature sensor, well, just because.


“I combined several sensors into this wireless Uber Sensor node. This sensor is powered via USB adapter, but it communicates wirelessly to the gateway, so you can place this where ever it has access to a power outlet. And you don’t have to build the whole thing, you can pick and choose which sensors you actually want.”

Using his smartphone to access the OpenHAB user interface, Tsai can enable email notifications for the sensors of his choosing. Once an alarm is activated, an email is sent the moment that a sensor detects something.


Sure, you can purchase your own home automation system, but this DIY setup will run you less than $300. You can find a pretty detailed step-by-step guide on the project’s official Instructables page here.

Linkio turns any electronic into a smart home device

A team of scientists, engineers and designers have created a home automation system that will let consumers bring any appliance into the Internet of Things era.


Recently launched a Kickstarter, Linkio consists of four megaAVR based modules, each of which enable users to control any electronic device with their smartphone. Three switching devices — a ceiling light switch (Le Switch), an electrical outlet plug (Le Plug) and a universal RC (Le Remote) — are responsible for turning on/off various electronics while its hub (aptly dubbed Le Hub) relays commands to them through an accompanying mobile app.

“We don’t want you to convert your entire house into a smart home system or buy entirely new items under a smart home platform. We simply want you to have the ability to easily control the devices you already own,” a company rep explains.


As its name implies, the Le Switch is a smart switch that controls lights and ceiling fans either manually or by smartphone. While pretty similar to the Le Switch, the Le Plug allows any connected device to be switched on/off through the app, and features a number of international inserts.

Meanwhile, the Le Remote transforms one’s smartphone into a universal remote for any in-home device — such as the air conditioning unit, DVD player or TV set — once paired with an existing IR remote’s sequences and buttons.

Most importantly, the Le Hub is the main component of the automation system, which connects to any Internet box and serves as the link between the intelligent appliances and each of the Linkio modules. This unit is compatible with ZigBee, Z-wave and 433/860 MHz devices, and is equipped with native USB port.


In true open-source fashion, Makers and engineers will also have the ability to expand upon their home automation system through Linkio’s developer pack. This allows users to either create independent modules without the use of external microcontrollers and to control the elements via API, or to use the DevKit as a communication module with any MCU.

Interested in making your home appliances smarter? Head on over to Linkio’s official Kickstarter page, where the team is currently seeking €50,000.

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