Tag Archives: smart home

Ikea Tradfri Outlet with Samsung SmartThings



Samsung’s SmartThings might be one of the smarthome market leaders but its branded sensors aren’t the cheapest by a long way. Savvy SmartThings specialists are constantly on the hunt for cheaper devices from other vendors but these often require custom code (device handlers) or strange steps to get them linked up.

Coming from the other direction, Swedish homemakers Ikea have their own smart home system called Tradfri. It’s currently more of a Philips Hue competitor as it focuses on lighting but it is expanding and has recently brought a smart plug to market….or as Ikea calls it, a wireless control outlet. It uses Zigbee for communication, and best of all, it only costs GB£9 compared with over GB£40 for the SmartThings variant. Let’s take a look.

 

The Tradfri wireless outlet isn’t going to be winning any design awards. It’s plain white plastic all round, with a hidden white LED at the bottom. Right underneath is a small pinhole for resetting the device with a paperclip. There’s no override button to turn the plug on or off, so keep a smartphone or tablet handy. The unit is rated at 13A / 3kW but not for inductive loads, i.e. no washing machines.

 

Enough of what it looks like…can the Tradfri smart socket work with SmartThings? It certainly can! It just takes a little care and some simple configuration via the SmartThings portal. There’s no need for device handlers or any advanced SmartThings tweaking.

The first step is to get the outlet paired with SmartThings. Fire up the SmartThings app (I’m still using Classic) on your phone or tablet and choose “Add a Thing”. The app will start looking for devices and there’s two gotchas here. One, the Tradfri device needs to be reasonably close to the SmartThings hub and two, the device needs to be reset via the pin hole on the bottom of the case. Just push in with a paper clip for a few seconds and the little LED will pulse at the bottom.

Within a few seconds, SmartThings will find a Thing but won’t know what type of Thing it is or what features it has. This is where the SmartThings IDE comes in at https://graph.api.smartthings.com/. You’ll need to login with either a Samsung or SmartThings account.

Once logged, in go to My Locations and choose your place. I’ve had to redact a few items for my privacy.

Now click on devices to get all the devices in the location. Scroll down through the list until you find the Thing. To make it easy, it’s in alphabetical order.

Click on Thing and then Edit to see the device’s current properties.

Change where it says 2015 Samsung Smart TV to ZigBee Switch and then hit the Update button.

The Thing’s revised entry now has ZigBee Switch and Local processing, which is a good thing. Simply it means that any activity by the sensor is processed locally by the SmartThings hub and isn’t handed off for cloud processing.

Returning to the SmartThings app on the phone, the system now knows that the Thing is a power outlet and has updated the functionality.

Tapping on the screen toggles the Tradfri smart plug with the relay clicking almost instantly. Of course, “Thing” can be renamed to something more sensible, like “Fish Tank Lights”.

And that’s it. The Tradfri wireless outlet is now an integrated part of the SmartThings setup and can be used in Automations and SmartApps, and all for only GB£9, which is a total bargain. As a further benefit, the outlet works as a Zigbee repeater which strengthens the Zigbee wireless network. The only downside I have found is that there’s no physical override button to turn it on or off, but that’s a minor quibble.

To summarise…..if you have SmartThings, the Tradfri wireless outlet works perfectly with it and costs GB£9. Get down to your local Ikea and get stocked up.

Or watch my video below for more details.


Alexa Controls Optoma UHD51A Data Projector



Amazon might be planning a plethora of Alex-enabled devices over the coming months (according to CNBC and covered by Todd), but Optoma’s voice control into their HD projectors right now. Here’s the Alexa-supported 4K Ultra HD projector, UHD51A.

To get the boring out the way, the UHD51A is a very capable ultra HD DLP (digital light processing) projector with a resolution of 3840×2160, pushing out 2400 lumens, with High Dynamic Range (HDR) compatibility, two HDMI ports and HDCP 2.2 support. A 3000 lumens version is available in the US but not the UK.

The exciting bit is that the UHD51A can be controlled by Alexa with a range voice commands to manage both the projector itself and media playback.Here are some examples.

Alexa, turn on/off <projector name>
Alexa, change volume to 8 on <projector name>
Alexa, change input to HDMI 2 on <projector name>
Alexa, change input to VGA on <projector name>

For the built-in USB media player

Alexa, play on <projector name>
Alexa, pause on <projector name>
Alexa, next on <projector name>
Alexa, rewind on <projector name>

To be clear, the projector doesn’t have Alexa built-in and you do need an Echo or Dot to work alongside the projector, but it’s still pretty cool.

If you want to voice control your video, the Optoma UHD51A will set you back about US$1,699 or GB£1,549 on Amazon at time of writing.


Smarten up the Garage Door with SkyLink at CES 2018



Converting a house into a smart home shouldn’t mean replacing every electrical device for a new smart model. A cheaper and greener way is to add smart features in with wireless accessories. A good example here is SkyLink Nova which adds smart capabilities to automatic garage doors at relatively low cost. Don and Frank take a closer look at SkyLink Nova and its accompanying ecosystem.

The SkyLink Nova is wired into an existing garage door opener using the standard connections used for the interior open/close button. Once connected up, the Nova can be remotely controlled with the SkyLink smartphone app (iOS and Android). Nova is also compatible with If This Then That (IFTTT) platform and Alexa so the garage door can be opened (or closed) by talking to an Echo.

The Nova itself looks like an LED light fixture and works as a smart home hub too, communicating with up to 100 smart devices. In addition, it can detect sirens from smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the house. When one of those is heard, Nova will automatically open your garage door to aid in ventilation in the case of an emergency.

SkyLink‘s Nova will be on sale in the spring for under US$100.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and gives lectures at TheGadgetProfessor.com.

Become a GNC Insider today!

Support my CES 2018 Sponsor:
30% off on New GoDaddy Orders cjcgeek30
$.99 for a New or Transferred .com cjcgeek99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1h
$1.00 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1w
Donate to the Show: Support this podcast

Fibaro Doubles Up With HomeKit at CES 2018



Fibaro are one of the bigger names in smart homes with a wide range of products from simple light switches to complex controllers. Originally based around Z-wave, their accessories now work with Apple HomeKit, and integrate with other systems like Philips Hue. Allante and Rich take a quick spin through some of Fibaro’s new products.

First up is a smart power plug with a USB charging port and a coloured LED which changes colour according to the amount of power being drawn through the socket. Although the colour-changing is fun, the measured power can be used within a smart home to initiate other actions or send a warning. Should the iron have been on for a hour?

Next is the big The Button which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a big red button, though it does come in seven different colour. Press it and stuff happens. What happens is configurable by the user – turn on the lights, sound an alarm, play music.

All the products are on sale now, priced between US$49 and $59.

Allante Sparks is a video producer at PLuGHiTz Live Special Events.

Become a GNC Insider today!

Support my CES 2018 Sponsor:
30% off on New GoDaddy Orders cjcgeek30
$.99 for a New or Transferred .com cjcgeek99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1h
$1.00 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1w
Donate to the Show: Support this podcast

SkyLink Brings the Garage into the Smart Home at CES 2018



Remote controlled garage doors haven’t been particularly secure in the past and many people have disabled the feature because of the risk of break-ins to their homes through the garage. Todd and Frank discuss the problem and look at SkyLink Nova, a retrofit WiFi door opener.

The SkyLink Nova is wired into an existing garage door opener using the standard connections used for the interior open/close button. Once connected up, the Nova can be remotely controlled with the SkyLink smartphone app (iOS and Android). Nova is also compatible with If This Then That (IFTTT) platform and Alexa so the garage door can be opened (or closed) by talking to an Echo.

The Nova itself looks like an LED light fixture and works as a smart home hub too, communicating with up to 100 smart devices. In addition, it can detect sirens from smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the house. When one of those is heard, Nova will automatically open your garage door to aid in ventilation in the case of an emergency. (I can see how this might help with CO poisoning but surely opening the door during a fire could make things worse?)

SkyLink‘s Nova will be on sale in the spring for under US$100.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

Become a GNC Insider today!

Support my CES 2018 Sponsor:
30% off on New GoDaddy Orders cjcgeek30
$.99 for a New or Transferred .com cjcgeek99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1h
$1.00 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1w
Donate to the Show: Support this podcast

Flic Gets Smarter with Flic Hub at CES 2018



Flic‘s smart Bluetooth buttons will be familiar to GNC readers as I reviewed them back in 2017. To be honest, the buttons aren’t that smart but it’s the clever smartphone software that does all the cool stuff. Consequently, if the Flic button is out of range of the owner’s smartphone, it’s somewhat useless. Fortunately Flic recognised this and announced an Indiegogo campaign for a Flic Hub that would take away the reliance on a nearby smartphone. Todd clicks with Elin to find out what’s new at Flic.

The new Flic Hub removes the need for a nearby smartphone in a home or office environment and lets Flic smart buttons integrate more closely with other automation and process management systems. Flic is looking to grow in the enterprise with customers focusing in the safety and hospitality industries.

The Hub can communicate with more Flic buttons so in theory, there could be hundreds of buttons in a location, and the integrity of the overall system is improved without dependence on the smartphone vendors. This creates a more reliable and dependable platform that enterprise customers are looking for, taking Flic beyond smart buttons.

The Flic Hub is expected to go on-sale shortly.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

Become a GNC Insider today!

Support my CES 2018 Sponsor:
30% off on New GoDaddy Orders cjcgeek30
$.99 for a New or Transferred .com cjcgeek99 @ GoDaddy.com
$1.00 / mo Economy Hosting with a free domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1h
$1.00 / mo Managed WordPress Hosting with free Domain. Promo Code: cjcgeek1w
Donate to the Show: Support this podcast

Immersive Entertainment with Philips Hue at CES 2018



At CES 2018, Philips Lighting have announced the latest evolution of the Hue ecosystem which brings immersive interaction between entertainment – gaming, movies and music – and Hue lighting. Simplistically, Hue can colour the room around you to complement the action in the game. Sweet!

Following a free, over-the-air software update, Philips Hue customers with colour-capable lights and a Philips Hue v2 bridge can enjoy truly immersive home entertainment experiences. The new software, created as a result of pilots (Sharknardo!), insights and feedback gained from leading companies in the entertainment industry, synchronizes Philips Hue lights perfectly with gaming, movie and music content. Razer, the world’s leading lifestyle brand for gamers, is the first partner to go live.

Accompanying the new Hue Entertainment functionality, Philips Lighting will introduce Hue Sync, an application that will run on any Windows 10 or macOS High Sierra-based computer, in Q2 2018. Philips Hue Sync creates immediate, immersive light scripts for any game, movie or music played on the computer, so consumers can enjoy the content they are playing, watching or listening to even more. I have to say that sounds pretty cool but I hope they bring out a version that can work with DVRs like Sky Q or Tivo and media streamers such as the Roku or Fire TV.

Finally, In summer 2018, Philips Lighting will take the Hue experience outside the home with the debut of an outdoor line. This new line of products will let consumers get more out of their exterior lighting by allowing them to personalise their ambience for any moment outside, whether simply relaxing with family or entertaining friends. It will also increase their peace of mind when arriving home or while away.

Keep an eye on meethue.com for further Hue updates.