16 Jun 2020
Turn Your Home into a Smart Home: Home Hub Installation Made Easy
Home automation is a booming market with a growing CAGR of 11.3% predicted by 2022. The multi-billion-dollar smart home industry offers many opportunities for homeowners to take advantage of technology to make their lives easier.
Home automation refers to the control and security of smart home devices. It may be used for isolated programmable devices, such as thermostats and sprinkler systems. But home automation more precisely describes smart homes with lights, appliances, electrical outlets, heating and cooling systems and security systems that are connected and controlled via a remotely accessible network. Home automation systems give users control of energy usage resulting in cost savings and help to enhance their standard of living. Let’s take a deeper dive into making home automation a reality in your home.
Home Hub – The Center of Home Automation
A Home Hub comprises hardware and software that allows you to remotely control the connected devices in your home. Connected devices in your house include smart devices such as lights, heating and air conditioning, home appliances, security systems and much more.
You can group multiple devices such as the lights in a room and turn them all on at once. Or you can set a schedule for your coffee maker or thermostat to ensure that you awake to a warm room and a hot cup of coffee. You can even remotely control your devices from virtually anywhere over Wi-Fi or the Internet. With the addition of voice-activation services such as Alexa and Google Assistant, you can control your connected smart home devices with voice commands.
“A home hub communicate with connected devices enabling users to remotely control the, conserving energy and adding more convenience to your home.”
Open-Q™ 212A Home Hub Dev Kit
The Open-Q™ 212A Development Kit has a Home Hub Platform Software release announced here. This Software release allows the Open-Q™ 212A to become a home hub to control the smart devices in your house.
Smart Home With Open-Q™ 212A as the Home Hub
The picture above shows the smart home components and how the Open-Q™ 212A fits in as a Home Hub. What follows is a description of this picture from the bottom-up.
The Wi-Fi Access Point in your house provides the communication path to all your Smart devices. This is your own home's Wi-Fi hotspot with secure password enabled. Most smart devices in your home can connect to 2.4GHz Wi-Fi.
Above the Wi-Fi Access Point are the smart devices installed in your house. These devices can include smart bulbs, smart plugs, smart light switches, and much more. Smart devices connect to your Wi-Fi network and will require constant power from your home's wall electricity in order to be able to stay connected. Most smart light switches require a 4-wire connection: load (red), hot (black), ground (green), and neutral (white). Unlike a traditional light switch, a smart switch needs the neutral wire where they tap constant power.
Above the smart devices (on the right) is a mobile device (phone or tablet). This mobile device is used to "on-board" or configure the smart device. For example, the TP-Link smart bulb and smart plug can be configured with the TP-Link Kasa app available on Android and iOS.
A CE Smart light switch can be configured by the CE Smart app which is also available on Android and iOS.
Using these apps on your phone, you can configure each device with your Wi-Fi hotspot and password to allow it to connect. You can then use the app to directly control the device. Moreover, you can create an account (with TP-Link Kasa, for example) and have your device associated with your TP-Link Kasa account. The phone/tablet can also be used to configure the Open-Q™ 212A and this will be described later.
The middle box is a PC/Laptop which can be used to configure the Open-Q™ 212A. This is also be described below.
Finally, the last piece of the Smart Home picture is the Open-Q™ 212A. The Open-Q™ 212A Home Hub Dev Kit includes all the hardware and software you need to control and manage your smart home. Lantronix’s custom Home Hub Software software release includes support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Mozilla WebThings Gateway as described in this blog . The Release Notes for the Open-Q™ 212A (available on tech.intrinsyc.com) provide detailed steps on how to configure each of these services. The next few sections will describe how you can use these services to connect, control, and manage your smart home devices.
Configuring Your Mozilla WebThings Gateway
You can use your PC/Laptop or mobile device to configure your Mozilla WebThings Gateway as described in the Release Notes. Once configured, your Mozilla WebThings Gateway can be accessed via the website hosted by the Open-Q™ 212A.
In this example, the website name is “itc-hh-demo.mozilla-iot.org” and a TP-Link smart bulb and TP-Link Smart Plug are added as shown below.
To add more devices, use the "+" and you will then be able to discover and add them to your WebThings Gateway list.
Once the devices are added to your WebThings Gateway, you can see their real-time status such as on/off, brightness, etc. You can also control and manage them, set daily schedules, group the devices by room and log their usage. For the full list of capabilities of the Mozilla WebThings Gateway, please see https://iot.mozilla.org/gateway/
Amazon Alexa Enables Voice Commands of Smart Devices
As described in the Release Notes, use qualcomm-avs-v1.11.apk and your Android device to configure the Amazon Alexa services on your Open-Q™ 212A. Once configured with your Amazon account, you can use your voice to communicate with Alexa and it will access the Amazon Server.
Such as “Alexa, what is the weather today in Vancouver, Canada?”
Now you will add your home’s smart devices to your Alexa account using your mobile phone or tablet. On your phone/table, install Amazon Alexa and register with the same account as you used for configuring the Open-Q™ 212A.