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Smart Home Beginner (I) : Common smart home platforms, brands and connections

When you enter the room, the air conditioner adjusts the room temperature to a comfortable temperature, the stereo plays your favorite music, and the lights follow your footsteps one by one.

More than ten years ago, I was a middle school student, the first time I heard the name “Bill Gates”, shocked me in addition to “the world’s richest man”, is this magical high-tech housing. Bill Gates has devoted his life to bringing ever-changing technology products to millions of ordinary people and making their dreams come true. The high-tech residence that he that huge sum makes, walk into thousands of families today with more close people means and price, had the name that accords with times characteristic — “intelligent household”

What is “ Home automation

Home automation or demotics is building automation for a home, called a smart home or smart house. A home automation system will monitor and/or control home attributes such as lighting, climate, entertainment systems, and appliances. It may also include home security such as access control and alarm systems. When connected with the Internet, home devices are an important constituent of the Internet of Things (“IoT”).

A home automation system typically connects controlled devices to a central smart home hub (sometimes called a “gateway”). The user interface for control of the system uses either wall-mounted terminals, tablet or desktop computers, a mobile phone application, or a Web interface that may also be accessible off-site through the Internet.

——WIKIPEDIA

Some people call automation intelligence, others understand voice control as intelligence, and still others think that being able to connect to the Internet and manage with a mobile App is intelligence. However, just as we have long believed that a website can be called an Internet company, if you go back to the product itself, you will find that some so-called networking and apps are chicken ribs and retards, making simple things complicated.

Intelligence is not the preserve of electricity and networks. Any household product (of course, mainly electrical products in the home) that makes people worry less and reduces the amount of housework is called intelligence. It may not speak, it may not be connected to the Internet, it may not always have your phone on, it’s as much a part of your home as POTS and pans, until you don’t even know it’s there.

Smart home platform classification

At present, the intelligent household platform that is active in the whole world is very much. For example, we are familiar with Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Home and NEST acquired by Google, and we are not familiar with Qisong, Control4 and so on.

Given the varying criteria for categorization, I’d like to help you understand what makes each platform special by introducing a few representative platforms.

Zigbee

Zigbee is a new low speed and short distance transmission wireless network protocol, which is suitable for electronic equipment with short transmission range and low data transmission rate. Its main characteristics are low power consumption, low cost, low speed and multi-node.  These features, it is born for intelligent home.

The low power consumption means that products that use it to communicate wirelessly do not need to be powered by a dedicated line, and multiple nodes avoid the unstable situation of too many bluetooth and Wi-Fi connected devices.

In practice, a Zigbee switch needs only a button battery to last for two years.  A Zigbee protocol gateway connecting dozens of Zigbee devices without any stutter or crash.  As a result, Zigbee is widely used in devices that are laid and connected to large areas of the house, such as smart switches and sensors.

Wi-Fi

Zigbee is a new low speed and short distance transmission wireless network protocol, which is suitable for electronic equipment with short transmission range and low data transmission rate. Its main characteristics are low power consumption, low cost, low speed and multi-node.  These features, it is born for intelligent home. 

The low power consumption means that products that use it to communicate wirelessly do not need to be powered by a dedicated line, and multiple nodes avoid the unstable situation of too many bluetooth and Wi-Fi connected devices.

In practice, a Zigbee switch needs only a button battery to last for two years.  A Zigbee protocol gateway connecting dozens of Zigbee devices without any stutter or crash.  As a result, Zigbee is widely used in devices that are laid and connected to large areas of the house, such as smart switches and sensors.

Blueteeth

Bluetooth is another common wireless transmission protocol. It is characterized by wide application range, short transmission distance, flexible and low power consumption.

In smart home, Bluetooth mainly plays two roles: one is to quickly find and discover new devices when the device is connected for the first time; the other is to realize local interconnection between two devices, such as bluetooth Mesh group.

Infrared

Infrared, short for Infrared, is probably the oldest and most widely used wireless transmission protocol that each of us is exposed to in our lives.

It is characterized by point-to-point transmission, close distance and no obstacles, so it is mainly used for remote control of household appliances such as TV and air conditioning. In smart home, in addition to individual appliances still use infrared remote control, more applications are we use each intelligent platform infrared universal remote control access to the old electrical appliances to achieve intelligent control.

Common smart home products

The gateway

Gateway is the hub of smart home, will be connected to different protocols or devices, without it can not linkage. Linkage is the essence of smart home.

According to different protocols, gateways can be divided into Bluetooth gateway, Wi-Fi gateway and Zigbee gateway.

First, the Bluetooth gateway. The Bluetooth gateway is mainly used to connect devices that only support Bluetooth, such as smart locks and smart lights. Generally, Bluetooth gateway is attached to other products, such as bedside lamp and smart speaker, which may integrate bluetooth gateway function. There are two reasons: First, Bluetooth is relatively simple, there is no need to make a separate product. Second, the bluetooth transmission distance and the number of connected devices is limited, a Bluetooth gateway is difficult to load the whole family of Bluetooth devices.

You can also think of a router as a Wi-Fi gateway. Smart speakers may also be a Wi-Fi gateway. Zigbee gateways also integrate Wi-Fi functions

Zigbee gateway, as its name implies, is a device that supports Zigbee protocol. As mentioned above, Zigbee has the advantage of low power consumption and multiple nodes, which is just a supplement to wi-fi and Bluetooth shortcomings. It is suitable for some devices or sensors in smart home that need long standby time and high frequency of use. Take Green Rice (Aqara brand) in mijia ecological chain as an example, its equipment is mainly Zigbee protocol. Aqara’s latest standalone gateway supports Apple’s Homekit as well as Mijia. Xiaomi launched a multimode gateway in late 2019 that supports bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Zigbee protocols.

Anyhow, want to make intelligent household must have gateway, which platform is same. Even with smart sound as the core of the Tmall genie, also plays the role of gateway.

Remote control type

Although smart home advocate automation, part of the product still can not be separated from the remote control. Traditional home appliances such as TV and air conditioners, smart lights, smart curtains or smart clothes racks are usually equipped with separate remote controls, including both infrared and Bluetooth remote controls.

In addition to one to one remote control, intelligent home in the most typical remote control products is infrared universal remote control, its role is very large.

The reason is that no matter how comprehensive a smart home platform is, it can’t be all things to all people. Especially TV, air conditioning and other traditional electricity, the new smart home brand often do not start as early as the white goods brand with a richer product line. Another reason is, the person that makes intelligent household is not from decorate beginning, a lot of already live in for many years, just want to improve home experience locally, impossible what electric appliance is bought afresh, especially everybody electricity.

The significance of infrared universal remote control lies in that, as long as your home appliances use infrared remote control, theoretically can access intelligent home platform, curve to achieve intelligent linkage.

For example, the projector in my home is Benji. The projection switch command is more complex. Press the power button once when starting up, and press the power button twice in a short period of time when shutting down. By universal remote control in mi home App binding a virtual projector, named projector (boot), and customized the second projector (shutdown), from the App can see two projections, is because the switch command is different. Even because the playback device is connected to the TV box, after the boot must switch HDMI to enter the desktop, so all kinds of universal remote control commands are bound up, to achieve a command to replace the remote control.

The speakers

Look from platform Angle, lay particular emphasis on the platform that propagandize intelligent sound, it is the control center of intelligent household with intelligent sound box more, for instance Ali, the equipment that access is center with day cat demon more, Amazon, Baidu is about the same also. Intelligent sound is acting the role of gateway, all equipment wake up and trigger from sound (of course, can also be isolated remote control and use), as long as the choice of this kind of intelligent sound box as the hub of the platform, must buy, irreplaceable.

In general, after the product and intelligent scene are configured in the SMART home platform App, the smart speaker can be directly controlled by the platform, while the cross-platform voice control may require manual input of wakeup language according to the scene. For example, if mijia’s device wants to be controlled by Apple’s Siri, the wakeup language needs to be set in advance on the iOS device.

Switch

Switches are the most frequently used devices in the home.

According to the installation method is different, intelligent switch can be divided into wired wall type, wall type, arbitrary type.

Wall type and common switch model are same, main action is to let blame intelligent lamps and lanterns intelligence, can put standard 86 line box normally, connect a line like common switch can. Wireless wall type, pasted on any smooth surface by 3M glue, can be matched with wired intelligent switch to achieve double control, can also customize the control of intelligent equipment in the home. Freewheeling is a name I picked out of the blue, which means it’s versatile and can be placed anywhere.

The buttons on the smart switch can be combined to allow a single switch to give more instructions than a traditional switch, and can be customized to control other smart devices in the home. For example, the wireless smart switch at the head of my bed is set to turn on or off the air conditioner by any double clicking the left and right buttons.

The lamp

Smart lights are very suitable for homes without smart switches installed in the early decoration. They are generally controlled through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. In lighting scenes, they are usually chosen with smart switches.

In addition to the separate intelligent bulb, the disadvantage of finished intelligent lamps and lanterns compared with traditional lamps and lanterns is that the shape is slightly single, such as millet intelligent home mainly used for lighting inside the intelligent lamp is basically suction dome lamp. The advantage is variable parameters, can change the color temperature, also can change the brightness.

In particular, I’d like to mention the Bluetooth night light, a gadget that brings much better happiness than any other, especially for people who need to get up in the middle of the night. All of us have experienced the situation of being blind when the light is turned on in sleepiness. The bluetooth night light with adjustable brightness and duration is attached to the wall and only lights up when it senses human activities. It will not light up and be blind when getting up in the middle of the night and is friendly to others in bed with us.

Sensor night lights are not new, they are sold everywhere, and the more humane setting is tandem sensor. Multiple night lights are connected in series. The first one turns on N seconds later, the second one turns on, the third one turns on, and the fourth one turns on in sequence. From the bedroom to the corridor and then to the bathroom series, two hundred dollars can experience the legend of which light to which, than a lot of customized programs in the induction lamp belt to benefit and stability.

The socket

The main role of intelligent socket is to make some electrical appliances can not be connected to the Internet to achieve remote switch, usually more suitable for electrical appliances with mechanical switch (non-mechanical switch power off and re-energized may not start), such as non-intelligent electric heating or floor lamp with intelligent socket, can also be remote control and timing anytime and anywhere.

According to the shape, smart socket has wall type, also has plug-in type, the former is suitable for the decoration of the time in one step, the latter is directly inserted into the traditional socket above the superposition.

As with smart lights, smart control is achieved either on the power side or on the product side. A lot of home appliances have been gradually intelligent at present, the place that needs to use intelligent socket is not much, I personally suggest that the flexible use of a few external plug type can be prepared in the home, it is not necessary for each wall socket to change intelligence. In addition to cost considerations, embedded smart socket some default function Settings if not understood, may affect your use, here will not expand.

Door lock

The frequency of use of smart locks is second only to smart switches.

According to the shape and structure of the classification of the hand and push pull type, usually also known as semi-automatic and automatic. Hold the hand type is to go out the lock need to hold a handle, inside the lock need to twist a mechanical switch, and traditional lock posture. Push-pull type can realize automatic locking or reverse locking after closing the door.

It should be noted that although the push-pull type, which is more expensive than the hand-held type, eliminates the action of manual anti-lock, it may also be because the installation accuracy is not enough to occasionally close the door and leave without locking it. Such cases have occurred many times, and people often mistakenly think that the smart lock automatically opens the door. A hand hold, which requires a manual lift of the handle, is equivalent to a lock check and may be more secure for OCD.

Smart lock market water is deep, from the traditional door lock brand to the Internet brand, hundreds of pieces to thousands of pieces, but about 1000 yuan can buy a good product.

Of course, not from the traditional key lock can be called smart lock, such as early access card, password lock can be without a key. Today’s smart locks are not only separated from ordinary keys, but also open in a variety of ways, including Bluetooth, NFC, fingerprint, password and even face recognition. However, I can’t say how smart they are. At best, they can only be more convenient. Linkage is also very simple, usually only a Bluetooth gateway, can realize the automatic opening of the light and other actions, not only save the action of pressing the switch, but also make the switch layout position in the decoration more flexible.

Security equipment

Security equipment belongs to the active use frequency is not high, and needs to be always online equipment. For example, cameras, smoke alarms, gas alarms, water sensors, door and window sensors, etc.

Home cameras are typically 1080P, but there are differences between brands. Xiaomi’s base model, for example, isn’t as sharp as the 360’s base model, even though they’re all 1080P. A camera is a device that you don’t need in general and can use in critical moments. Having a picture means more than a small difference in clarity.

At present, household cameras are generally stored through SD cards. If thieves pull out the cameras together, there are two solutions. One is to buy cloud services for online storage, and the other is to store the video of the cameras in a self-built NAS server, where the NAS can be hidden. This is a bit complicated, so I won’t go further. There are a lot of articles and tutorials on NAS for minority to learn.

Smoke alarm

Now commercial houses generally have their own smoke fire alarms, but after the decoration of the blank room hidden in the kitchen integrated ceiling board, the property acceptance may not pass. Smart home platform launched smoke alarm in addition to flexible installation, but also linked to other devices all-round alarm. For example, Honeywell smoke alarm, the use of Zigbee protocol, power saving, easy to use, very high sensitivity, cooking forgot to open the range hood on the ears of the call.

The principle of the natural gas alarm is similar to that of the smoke alarm. In addition to the alarm after sensing the danger of leakage, it can also be linked to other home equipment. If the exhaust fan is fitted with a smart socket, it can even realize automatic exhaust after a natural gas leak.

Water sensor and smoke alarm, natural gas alarm, are passive home security equipment, there is a need to see their own product introduction will know the function and usage, not every family needs, I will not introduce in detail.

The door and window sensor can not only judge the opening and closing of doors and Windows when there is no one in the house, but also serve as the trigger device for linkage smart home, such as automatically turning on the light after opening the door.

Other sensors

The first is the familiar body sensor. By judging the movement of the human body as a security device, of course, more often used to link smart home products, such as detecting the movement of the human body switch other devices. Some brands of body sensors are equipped with light sensors that allow for more complex linkage, such as lighting in different areas during the day and night.

Light sensor itself is meaningful, is suitable for the intelligent scene perform different results in different time periods, such as the door of the my house before you turn on the light just rough according to the time period set the door only open the hall light during the day, evening that take the door also open living room lamp, a light sensor can perform different results according to the light situation, after such a smart is fine and the natural scene.

The T/H sensor is used to connect the humidifier, dehumidifier, and air conditioner in a home. However, I personally suggest that you consider whether it is necessary according to your actual needs. For example, if the temperature and humidity conditions are met, but you do not want to turn on the electric appliance, the current intelligent equipment cannot judge the real psychological needs of users, and automatic triggering is too much of a good thing. After all, not every product needs automatic linkage.

The above is my main introduction and recommendation of the product, I think smart home inside must buy.

Of course, each smart home system inside there are some good single product, some can linkage, some do not need linkage independent use is also good, such as sweeping robot, intelligent garbage can, kitchen type water purifier and so on, the space is limited will not be introduced.