A smart home is any home where smart monitoring or control devices linked to the internet are installed. Home HQ from Origin Energy is a smart, first, start.
The A$199 Home HQ starter kit (for more detail on the kit read GadgetGuy’s announcement here) does everything it promises with an almost fool-proof setup.
The internet connected Gateway communicates with two entry sensors to indicate if the doors or windows have been opened, a PIR motion sensor detects motion, the smart plug will turn devices on/off devices, the Temperature/Humidity sensor confirms if you are hot or cold, and the Philips Hue light bulb will wake and dim on command.
It is all controlled by an Android or iOS app that is basic but very usable. Open the app, select devices, turn on the smart bulb or check the temperature.
What is good about Home HQ?
It works very well – an almost foolproof installation. Ten points to Origin for releasing a complex set of products that play well together.
It has some minor issues like using CR 2032-coin batteries ($2-3 each) to power these devices that will need replacing every ‘few’ months, and its current device ecosystem is limited.
The Home HQ ecosystem rapidly needs access to a wider range of open source, industry standard smart home devices if it is to be a serious contender in this space.
To its credit, it says, “Home HQ offers open source technology, so it’s designed to give you the flexibility to expand your network of smart devices as the smart technology and devices evolve.”
Origin is being careful to ensure third-party devices do work so that currently covers water sensors, touch sensors, climate control, sirens etc., – most available from its Device Store.
And the trial that was limited to Victoria is now over, and you can buy the kit and use it anywhere, even if you are not an Origin Energy customer.
After a week of use, I have some general observations.
As my first real foray into smart homes, it has been a pleasure to find everything works as intended – no rocket scientist needed to set it up.
The app allows additional users to be added and to run it from their smartphones as well – for when you are not in the home. I think a Windows and macOS desktop client or web app for home control use would be handy too.
The If This Then That (IFTTT) capability allows multiple devices to interact, e.g. when the motion sensor is tripped use the smart plug to turn on the smart light, send me and email and take a photo/video. The app comes pre-programmed with dozens of rules that cover most bases. At present you cannot nest IFTTT rules to make more complex rules, but you can run several rules concurrently.
Geofencing using your phone’s GPS tells Home HQ if you are away and flips to Away mode and back to Home mode when you come home. These modes are also linked to rules.