To HomeKit or Not to HomeKit?

introducinghomekit-feat-e1433955239818-150x150As you have probably noticed, the content on this site is focused primarily on HomeKit related apps and devices. While we recognize that there is a great big world of home automation beyond HomeKit (and that HomeKit is, at this time, actually quite limited), we do plan on maintaining a focus on HomeKit related devices and tools.

The reasons for this decision are fairly simple. The primary reason is that our own setup is HomeKit based. HomeKit also provides an excellent platform that allows novices to integrate many disparate devices from multiple manufacturers into one system. This in turn allows you to manage your entire home automation setup (assuming all of the devices are HomeKit compatible) from one app or tool.

This is a significant improvement over the historical approach to home automation and integration. Previous to HomeKit (and other similar platforms like Works With Nest and Google’s Weave) a DIY home automator would have had a very difficult time integrating all of their devices into one setup. The result would most often be the need to use multiple apps to manage all of the devices installed, and an inability to control everything with integrated scenes and triggers.

Beyond our setup being HomeKit based, we are heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem in general, with iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, Apple TV, an Apple Watch etc. all part of our home network. Using primarily Apple devices makes it easy to configure and manage a HomeKit based automation scheme, so it just made sense for us to focus our home automation device purchase on devices that support HomeKit.

That said, we understand HomeKit doesn’t currently support everything you might want to have in your setup. As noted in a previous post, dimmer switch options are currently unimpressive with HomeKit. Sensors that can activate scenes as triggers are also an issue (Eve makes some great door/window open/closed sensors, but they still can’t trigger scenes, yet). Motion sensors in particular that support HomeKit aren’t very common yet, and the ones that are available are prohibitively expensive (really ConnectSense, $170 for a device that typically costs $30-50??).

To that end, we are also exploring technologies that will allow DIYers with a bit more technical skill to integrate non-HomeKit devices into their HomeKit configuration for control and management, including building scenes and triggers that utilize non-HomeKit devices. (More on that will be coming very soon.)

In terms of the devices wiki that we are building out on the site, we do intend to focus first on entries about HomeKit compatible devices. This will allow us to cover a breadth of devices across multiple categories quickly, and in the long term we will build out the depth within individual categories by listing devices that aren’t HomeKit compatible. In that case, we will also focus on devices that can be integrated into HomeKit systems via the bridging technology mentioned above.

HomeKit is still in it’s early stages, and it will be exciting to see it evolve in the short-term and long-term. It’s a great platform that makes DIY home automation much more accessible than it has been in the past.

HomeKit + Wink Together

My primary goal with my SmartHome setup was to use HomeKit compatible devices, as my wife and I are both pretty invested in the Apple ecosystem: I’m typing this on a MacBook Pro sitting on a table with an iPad, an iPhone and a really old Mini I’m trying to install node.js on – you’ll hear more about that soon though.

Even if we weren’t make users, I think there is a lot about HomeKit that is very appealing to a consumer like me. In theory the way HomeKit works I can use any HomeKit compatible device with any HomeKit compatible app, and any device inside the HomeKit bubble can talk to every other device inside the bubble.

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Welcome and HomeKit Dimmer Discussion

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First off, welcome to Life on Silicon, a blog and wiki site about SmartHome technology. On this site you will (eventually) find information about SmartHome tech in general, updates when new products are released and announced (especially products that are compatible with Apple’s HomeKit technology), reviews of SmartHome products and more.

I am also working on building out a wiki on the site that will contain information about SmartHome products outlined by category in a massive Product Guide for SmartHome tech. Eventually it may also incorporate other related content, such as lists of other SmartHome blogs and podcasts, how-to guides and more. For now the goal is to focus on the products though and get those covered thoroughly.

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