Crowdfunded SmartHome Projects

Many of today’s more popular SmartHome products and platforms even (SmartThings) got their start on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

I recently spent some time on those sites browsing for SmartHome projects on them that might be of interest to readers of Life on Silicon, and this article highlights a handful of the more interesting projects on those sites today.

This is the first of what will be an ongoing series highlighting crowdfunded projects for SmartHome products, so if you are aware of any crowdfunding projects on Kickstarter, IndieGoGo or similar platforms that I haven’t listed here (or if you have a project yourself you’d like to see listed), feel free to use the form on the blog’s Contact page to reach out to me and let me know about it. I’m going to try to do an update with new crowdfunded SmartHome projects every couple of months or so, and will try to include any recommendations in future editions.

Fishbit Aquarium Monitor: Controller, Monitor and App
Fishbit Aquarium Monitor: Controller, Monitor and App

Fishbit Aquarium Monitor

The Fishbit is a monitor and controller for high-end aquarium setups. The full version (with monitor and controller, you can get just the monitor device or just the controller device) will provide aquarium environment monitoring via an app, and the controller is an app controlled power distribution unit for your aquarium devices, like lights and heaters.

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Elgato Eve App: Good HomeKit Management Tool

Introduction to App Reviews

This is the first in what will be a series of posts reviewing the various options for controlling, configuring and managing your HomeKit setup via iOS app. Typically a device requires you to use the manufacturer’s app for its initial setup and configuration, but once your device is added to your HomeKit home you are able to manage that device from any of the HomeKit compatible apps.

These apps can be divided into two categories: manufacturer apps and third-party apps. At the time of this writing, none of the apps provided by device manufacturers support creating and editing triggers, so if you want to take advantage of HomeKit triggers you will need to use a third party app at a minimum to manage your triggers.

Where feasible, when reviewing a manufacturer HomeKit control app we will also provide brief reviews of any devices sold by that manufacturer that we have experience with and are able to review.

With that out of the way, the first HomeKit control app review will cover the Elgato Eve iOS app.

Eve iOS App

eve app room view
The Eve app’s room view The background image here is an actual image of the office these devices are located in, but it isn’t annoying because the details are blurred out.

The Elgato Eve app (iTunes link, Elgato Eve website link) is currently one of the best HomeKit system management apps. The interfaces are very quick to load and the app is very responsive, both in terms of HomeKit devices responding to commands itsends and in terms of the UI of the app itself on iOS. There is also a moderate level of configurability, with a decent icon set for devices and the way it uses photos as blurry backgrounds is cool (you can take a pictures of your rooms and set them as the background for the room’s views in the app and it isn’t annoying or tacky because the app blurs the photo).

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Hue, me?

hueroom

The core of my SmartHome system are the Philips Hue lights. I started with a Hue Bridge, two Hue White bulbs (which are available in multiple form factors, including A19, E26, BR30 and PAR16), a Hue Go and a Hue Lightstrip and within a week of installing those I had replaced every light in our home with Hue lighting (except two cans in the kitchen that we are waiting to have the Hue replacements installed in and a halogen reading lamp I love and won’t give up, but do have on an iHome on/off switch and Leviton dimmer switch).

I absolutely love the Hue system. In addition to the lighting products mentioned previously, our setup now includes a handful of the Hue Color Bulbs, two Hue Blooms and soon two Hue Phoenix Downlights (cans). It was just frustrating to have some of the lights controllable by the Hue controls and others not, and now using physical switches just seems archaic. I even broke down and got another Hue Bridge and two white bulbs as a “Hue White Starter Kit” for the lamps in my office at work (setting up another bridge with the phone that controls my home Hue Bridge was more difficult than I expected, I’ll discuss that challenge in a future post).

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