A few years ago I got interested in home automation. I wasn't planning to do anything extreme, focused on lights and appliances with a web and voice UI (e.g. Alexa). There were a variety of solutions on the market at the time but they try to lock you into their eco-system. I wanted something customizable with easy integration for many different home automation eco-systems. Fast-forward to today, I have such a system and it's been working well for the past two years.
I interact with it mainly through voice. I have stationary tablets throughout the apartment with a control panel. I haven't touched the control panel in weeks however. There is something to be said about how voice UI alters our behavior. Walking to a control panel or pulling out my phone is a bit much for me now compared to voice.
I use an open source system called Home Assistant as the central piece of my home automation system. You can configure HA with many sensors, switches, plugins, and integrations. Switches can also trigger an http request which is how I integrate the custom elements of my system. You are also able to sync your HA switches to Alexa allowing for native voice control of switches.
Along with my custom scripts I also have the Phillips Hue system integrated with HA. I also have a couple of BroadLink RM Pro hubs that allow me to record and send IR and RF signals. With the RM hardware anything with a remote control can be be integrated. Smart devices are best but they aren't always necessary.
- Amazon Fire Tablets
- Raspberry PI (or a linux server) for Home Assistant]
- BroadLink RM Pro for Infrared and Radio Frequency signals
- Phillips Hue Hub & Lights
- Flick (wireless smart buttons)
Photo by Justin Schüler