Like many users reading this, I am a dedicated Apple follower and hence determined to implement my Home Control and Automation via the Apple HomeKit System. I have an urgent situation as my mum is in her mid 90s and has Alzheimer’s disease and my dad although slightly younger does a fantastic job of caring for her and the potential opportunities offered by HomeKit enabling me to monitor and control not only the systems in their home, but also who engages with them remotely really would enable me to have greater peace of mind knowing how my dad is coping, also that they are safe and well. I put together my Home Control and Automation strategy and built my shopping list containing some key products:
- A few cameras dotted around the house will enable me to check on them regularly and wouldn’t it be great to be able to have a chit chat if needed.
- Automated Control of their domestic lighting providing illumination as they move around the house or have a chat with Siri would be brilliant and the ability for me to be able to turn on lights remotely to see what is going on at night would be great.
- A Door Intercom/camera system will enable me to answer the door for them and send unwanted visitors packing, without my parents even knowing.
- A chat with Siri would enable them to control heating and their cooler with the option for me to control remotely.
An alarm system will keep them safe by alerting the outside world and me of anyone gaining unauthorised access.
- Planning for the worst if I do see something wrong I can not only call the emergency services, I can also lock/unlock the doors to get them inside quickly.
However, my hopes were somewhat dashed when I found that the comparatively slow progress in domestic products gaining HomeKit Certification due to the various requirements, effectively means that I have had to put the desperately needed Home Control projects for my family on hold or use an alternative system.
I was very unhappy, so in my search for answers and after a great deal of research – it became apparent that people in similar situations have already invested a great deal of time in working around these issues, in fact there is a large community dedicated to developing these solutions. It was at this point that I decided to develop this website to enable others to navigate the technical and commercial challenges in doing this.
MISSION:- Going back to basics, what we need is to be able to add our domestic products into the Apple Home App, where they can be controlled using voice commands to Siri and can be combined with other products to create intuitive automation sequences etc. To do this we can use the limited range of products already certified to work with HomeKit out of the box, or we can achieve this by effectively implementing a bridge between the Home app and the products we need to control, which are not yet certified for use with HomeKit.
This site is designed to connect you to the products already HomeKit certified, in addition to those which can be bridged to work with HomeKit. It will also provide the tools and knowledge to enable you to get everything up and running at the lowest possible cost. Fundamentally, all the resources required are out there – they just need pulling together.
STRATEGY:- We will deliver this by listing the product information, connecting to the APIs of leading Retailers to bring you the best prices in real time, along with details of any bridging system requirements. There will be challenges – so this site will provide the facility for commercial and technical collaborative support from the customer peer groups.
Homebridge – what it is and how it works
Apple requires every device to go through tons of testing and follow strict security rules if it wants HomeKit approval, so this needs to be born in mind as whilst it may limit the pool of approved gadgets, it also means you don’t have to worry as much about security. Homebridge is also open source, so you’re relying on a community of developers to keep it updated rather than a trusted company like Apple. This is another contributing reason for providing this website.
Running Homebridge –
If you have a Mac computer at home that’s always running (like a desktop computer or a Mac Mini that doubles as a media player) that’s probably the best option. iMore has a detailed guide to installing Homebridge on macOS. Just don’t forget to back up your computer first in case something goes wrong.
You can also install Homebridge on Windows if you don’t have a macOS computer on hand. But again, you’ll want to make sure it’s a PC that’s always on for the software to work.
I actually have a home server running Windows 10 Professional so I elected to create a Debian Linux Server running on a Hyper-V virtual machine, for mum and dad I have setup a relatively cheap Raspberry Pi computer running Raspbian.