Homey – The Voice-Controlled Home Automation System

Homey – The Voice-Controlled Home Automation System

There’s something cool about asking a glowing orb in the middle of your room to heat your oven or turn on your TV. It’s like something out of a science fiction film and if you love the idea of being able to talk to your home in order to control every operation around the house, you’re sure to be thrilled by the new voice-controlled home automation system, Homey.

Created by Athom, a dutch startup, Homey is a Kickstarter project which currently has more than 900 backers and over AUD$272,000 raised.

Athom’s founder, Emile Nijssenm, has backgrounds in both hardware and software development and has come up with technology that promises to control multiple devices in the house, including entertainment systems, home appliances, lighting, blinds, electronics and the thermostat.

Speech Recognition Software

Similar to the Ivee Sleek, Homey uses speech recognition to allow users to “talk” to their devices and to be talked to in return. In the demo video, the demonstrator states “I’d like to connect a new lamp, please.” Homey then requests the demonstrator to turn the light on, then off. Immediately the lamp is synced to Homey’s commands. It’s that simple:

Like many movies have envisaged over the years, Homey lets dwellers sit back and relax while it cues up tasks to be done around the home. “When you need to wake up, the curtains or blinds are opening, your morning tune is playing on your stereo while the weather for today and your e-mails are being read to you. The smell of fresh coffee gets you out of bed!” the founders say.

Likewise, when it’s time to leave home for the day, Homey can remind you to take an umbrella if the forecast is for rain and to make sure your door is locked. It will even turn down the heating and switch off lighting and other devices in order to save energy.

Before you get home of an evening you can tell the system to pre-heat the oven or have it send your grocery list through to you if one is programmed into a smart fridge at home.

Homey, the voice enabled home automation system
Source: kickstarter.com

So how does Homey work?

Homey uses a 12V adaptor and includes seven wireless modules that are set up to work on a variety of frequencies and protocols, all of which are integrated together in a simple-to-use yet very intelligent device that features the latest speech-recognition software.

The developers have also included an infrared power-LED so that the system works with older devices – the software works with all apps that are written in JavaScript. Indeed, users can take advantage of the ‘Homey App Store’, where brands can upload new apps as their devices are released – this means that purchasers shouldn’t have to worry about buying a new appliance that may not be compatible with Homey – new apps will be created frequently.

Although users speak to the software in order to command certain functions, there is a Homey smart-phone app that syncs the system with all the gadgets in the home. This app is available for both iPhone and Android devices and makes it possible for owners to interface with Homey even when they’re not actually at home.

Homey works with devices from the multiple manufacturers including (but not limited to) the following brands: Sonos, Bose, AirPlay, Samsung, Philips, Gmail, GE and Logitech.

About Homey

If you’re keen to introduce the Homey technology to your house, then you’ll need to wait until early to mid 2015. In order to be one of the first people to receive a unit, donate to the Kickstarter campaign now.

While the cheapest options have already been taken, enthusiasts can at this stage still back the technology and receive an early model for just EUR$229.00 excluding shipping – a significant discount from the final shipping price.

Homey Product Specs

  • Homey has eight radio modules in total, all of which are accessible through the system’s JavaScript API.
  • The modules are Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0; NFC; ZigBee; Z-Wave; 433.92 MHz; nrf24I01+ and Infrared.
  • These modules are connected via a Raspberry Pi Compute Module which runs Homey’s custom software.
  • Homey runs on a node.js server, meaning developers can use the JavaScript language.
  • The system works with a 12V adaptor. This will be shipped with an applicable connector according to the recipient’s region. Type A and C plugs (for the U.S. and E.U. mainland) are available so far, but other regions will be introduced over time.
  • The sphere in Homey is 11cm (4.3”) in diameter and features, in its centre, a multi-coloured LED ring that lets apps give feedback to users. It also features a small circle that sits on top that is located in order for the infrared power-LED to shine through the casing.
  • Homey is compatible with multiple devices and softwares
  • While the smart-phone app for Homey is currently available for iPhone and Android users, people who utilize other operating systems can also use their browser to access and configure Homey on the go as required.