Meeting Notes for February: Home Assistant

Mon, 02/13/2017 - 10:10 -- JackC

Room 300, Rockefeller Hall, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY

Lightning Talks

LT1: Joe Apuzzo - Mad Science Fair Prep

Joe reminded the attendees that Mad Science Fair is coming "soon" and it's time to start thinking about projects. He gave a short introduction to his coming talk in March on the Raspberry Pi as a "hands-on" demonstration and more of a collaboration for work on the RPi and similar devices. Joe also made a case for getting the Younger Crowd more involved in hands-on experiences with these new computing platforms.

LT2: Patrick Ladd - Sense Project Kickstarter Status Report

Last year, Pat participated in a Kickstart project for a device called "Sense" - a home energy monitoring device that connects to your incoming power lines and attempts to "make sense of" the devices consuming power in your home. Pat is now able to present results of the device and illustrate how it was able to determine charracteristic "signatures" of things like his Microwave and other devices. Lots of fun information about what consumes power in your home!

Main Talk: Bruce Locke - Home Assistant

The Internet Of Things. What is it REALLY?

Bruce presented a good background on the concept ot IoT and what it really is: A Thing + Processor + Radio = New Thing!

Anything that takes power in any form has the high probability of being put on the Net at some point - with many items having perhaps a "Less than Desirable" result. 

Locke's Corolary: If it has a Power Source, someone on campus will eventually DEMAND that it be put on the network.

Why you should NOT use WiFi or BlueTooth was discussed, as was why Zigbee and ZWave are Better Choices. Some "issues", such as power failures emulating - quite well - the Reset Sequence for some items like coulour-selectable lamps were noted. Some vendors (most likely not an exhaustive list) were mentioned, prominantly Aeotec,  a Z-Wave-dominant supplier of IoT devices of jsut about anything you can imagine. Maybe even a few you can't. He also discussed various sensors, as well as some of the computing platforms you can embed in things to get them to do what you want.

Bruce demonstrated HomeAssistant as the environment he works (or plays?) in. His demonstration included several selected devices - a Lifx Bulb, a "SmartSwitch" that can control anything plugged into it, and a BlueTooth Speaker. Bruce began by showing the environment and illustrating the ease with which he could add devices to be recognised, and how these devices could be grouped into functional blocks.

At the end of the presentation, with entirely logical steps all the way, he had a setup where if the light was turned off, the fan would come on 5 seconds later. When the fan came on, the speaker would announce the event, and when the turned the fan off, the speaker identified that the fan was off (with "Turn down for What?" - but I digress....)

Bruce's final question to the group: "So - Is it WORTH it?"

His conclusion? Well - you really should have been there.

Lots of discussion following the talk. There's good stuff out there to play with. Thanks to Wes for additinal photos.

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