Classifying the Internet of Things

The core of home automation is knowing what’s going on. The faster we know about a state change, the better we can serve the user. If you want to have your lights to turn on when you arrive at home, it doesn’t help if it only knows about it after you’ve already opened the door and manually (!!) turned on the lights.

Each smart device consists of the ‘normal’ device and the piece that makes it ‘smart’: the connectivity. The connectivity part of a device can consists of either control, state or both.

State describes what a device is up to right now. For example, a light can be on with a red color and a medium brightness.

Control is about controlling the smart device by sending commands via an API. These commands can vary from configuring how a device works to mimicking how a user would interact with a device. A media player can allow skipping to the next track and a sensor could allow to configure its sensitivity or polling interval.

The Home Assistant APIs are setup to be as convenient as possible. However, a network is always as weak as it’s weakest link. In our case these are the integrations. Take for example controlling a light that does not report state. The only state Home Assistant can report on after sending a command is the assumed state: what do we expect the state of the light to be if the command worked.

We want our users to get the best home automation experience out there and this starts with making sure they have devices that work well with Home Assistant. That’s why we will start applying the following classifiers to our integrations:

Classifier Description
Assumed State We are unable to get the state of the device. Best we can do is to assume the state based on our last command.
Cloud Polling Integration of this device happens via the cloud and requires an active internet connection. Polling the state means that an update might be noticed later.
Cloud Push Integration of this device happens via the cloud and requires an active internet connection. Home Assistant will be notified as soon as a new state is available.
Local Polling Offers direct communication with device. Polling the state means that an update might be noticed later.
Local Push Offers direct communication with device. Home Assistant will be notified as soon as a new state is available.

The background to how we got to these classifiers can be read after the break.

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Smarter SmartThings with MQTT and Home Assistant

This is a guest post by Home Assistant users Jeremiah Wuenschel and St. John Johnson.

So you own a SmartThings Hub. You probably bought it when you were looking to get into the whole Home Automation hobby because it worked with pretty much everything and offered you the ability to automate anything. After a week of ownership, you realized that building dashboards and automating required writing way more Groovy then you expected. Then one day you were browsing reddit and discovered the amazingness that is Home Assistant! A solution that offered dashboards, graphs, working support for Nest, and REAL EASY automation!

You spent your weekend getting everything set up, showing it off to your significant other, but in the end you got stumped when it came to integrating with all your existing SmartThings toys. What do I do now? Should I buy another hub? Should I just buy a Z-Wave stick?

That’s where we came in. We wanted a solution that can bridge the awesomeness of Home Assistant with the SmartThings hub that works with almost everything.

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0.12: Insteon, LIFX, Twitter and Zigbee

Another sprint has come to an end and it seems that we have not slowed down a single bit 🚀. 0.12 is full of new components, platforms and organizational additions.

I would like to give a shout out to Greg Dowling (@pavoni) as every release includes new work from him. He is constantly adding support for new platforms or improving the reliability of existing components and platforms. Keep up the good work!

This release includes a very frequent requested feature: the ability to organize entities in different tabs in the frontend. See the demo to see this in action and read more in the group documentation how to get started.

Example of the new views in the frontend. Learn more.

Backwards incompatible changes

  • Nest config has moved from thermostat to the Nest component.
  • Entity IDs for Z-Wave devices are now generated in a deterministic way causing all IDs to change starting this release. This is a one time change. (Changed again in 0.31)

Perfect Home Automation

People often ask me about my vision for Home Assistant. Before I can describe where I want to go with Home Assistant, I should first talk about how home automation would look in my ideal world. This will be the aim of this post. I’m not going to focus on protocols, networks or specific hubs. That’s all implementation details. Instead, this post will focus on what is most important: the interaction between the users and their home.

You should not have to adapt to technology.

When people start using home automation, they always experience home control first: being able to control devices in new ways using a phone or computer. They believe the future is now and their app will be their remote for their lives. They only focus on what they are getting, not on what they are losing. You install some light bulbs and all of a sudden you are no longer able to use the light switches. You’ll arrive at home at night and have to pull out your phone, open the app, let it connect and finally you’ll be able to turn on the light. All while turning the light on could have been a switch away.

Yes, you can solve this with presence detection. What if your phone runs out of battery? You’ll have to resort to the switch again.

If you find that using your new home devices is cumbersome, the promise of home automation technology has failed you. Your lights should work with both a switch (or button) at the entrance of your room and via presence detection. Honestly, there are hardly any valid use cases for being able to control lights from your phone except for showing off.

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0.11: Extended support for DIY solutions

First release of 2016 and we are on 🔥! The main repository has passed 2500 ⭐ on GitHub (2596 ⭐ as of now). This release also has a record number of 20 contributors all working on improving and extending Home Assistant. With the continued growth, I am very excited to see what 2016 will bring us 🤘.

Backwards incompatible changes

0.10: Amazon Echo, iCloud,, Twitch and templating support!

Alrighty, it’s time for Home Assistant 0.10. A lot amazing things have changed and sadly we also had to introduce a bunch of backwards incompatible changes. I would like to give a big shoutout to Philip Lundrigan (@philipbl) who put a lot in effort in helping the migration to move towards using templates for a wide variety of platforms.

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Set up encryption using Let's Encrypt

The instructions in this blog post are outdated. Please have a look at the new instructions.

Exposing your Home Assistant instance outside of your network always has been tricky. You have to set up port forwarding on your router and most likely add a dynamic DNS service to work around your ISP changing your IP. After this you would be able to use Home Assistant from anywhere but there is one big red flag: no encryption.

This tutorial will take you through the steps to setup a dynamic DNS for your IP and allow trusted encrypted connection to it - for free using DuckDNS and Let’s Encrypt.

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Activating Tasker tasks from Home Assistant using command line switches

In this tutorial I will explain how you can activate Tasker tasks from Home Assistant command line switches. We are going to set up a switch that when toggled will make your Android device say either "On" or "Off".

You could also do this with the automation component instead so whenever you put your house to sleep mode for example your Android device will open up Google Play Books or the Kindle app ready for you to read as well as dimming your lights, but this tutorial is all about the switches.

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InfluxDB and Grafana

The InfluxDB database is a so-called time series database primarily designed to store sensor data and real-time analytics.

The influxdb component makes it possible to transfer all state changes from Home Assistant to an external InfluxDB database.

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