Smart Home Q&A - August 2017

Smart Home Q&A - August 2017

Better functionality with the Philips Hue Motion Sensor, HomeKit Accessory Notifications only when you're not at home, extra mics for the Amazon Echo? Those questions and more in this Q&A!

(Questions and basic answers & links are here, full answers are in the embedded video below.)

From Todd Scheresky
Starts at 2:52

I really enjoy your YouTube channel. I am a long time fan of home automation. Many years ago I started with with X-10. I then moved on to Insteon. My control software for Insteon was Indigo. Well, this year iDevices finally released their wall switch and I jumped into the HomeKit fray.

I am physically disabled. Paralyzed from the neck down. I have no use of my arms or legs. I operate my iMac using voice recognition. When I was using Insteon modules I created events and schedules on my Mac, by voice, using Indigo. Now I'm not aware of any Mac software for HomeKit. So I've been using Home, Apple's Home, and iDevices app, with the help of others, to configure my HomeKit devices. One thing I haven't been able to figure out is how to schedule my wall switch to turn on 5 minutes before sunset and turn off 5 minutes after sunrise. Can you tell me is this possible with Apple's Home app? It definitely cannot be done with the third party Home or iDevices app.

Quick Answer
Yes, there is now the ability to use an offset time in conjunction with sunset/sunrise. But it only works in 15-minute increments. This is true across Apple's Home app and 3rd-party HomeKit apps.


From Tony Ferber
Starts at 8:33

Do you need a Philips hue bridge with Philips hue lights or can you connect it straight to the smart things hub?

Quick Answer
It is possible, yes. But to receive updates to Philips hue smart lighting devices for new features and security releases, you'll need the Philips Hue Bridge.


From Rhys Gannell
Starts at 14:31

I'm liking your HomeKit videos - clear and well put together. I'm just starting my home up and started with the Elgato eve door sensors. Eventually I'd like them to automate lights etc. but for now it's a basic security system, sending notifications to me when a door is opened.

Are you aware (either in current or iOS11) of a way to only get such notifications when I'm not at home? Thanks for your help and your videos.

Quick Answer
HomeKit in iOS 11 now has the ability to limit notifications from devices such as sensors to certain times of the day and also whether someone is home or not. (Full details in video)

From Matheson Steplock
Starts at 22:24

I have an echo I would like to connect it to a whole home audio system we are getting installed but then it would not be able to hear me because it can barely hear me now from upstairs and it might be in the basement is there anyway to connect a mic to it or is there another solution i can use to connect mic's to a pc running some software?

Quick Answer
Sadly, no. There is no way to extend the mics or add external mics to Amazon Echo or Google Home devices without doing some serious physical hacking. And even then, your modifications might not work. (Additional explanation in the video)


From Dan Kinney
Starts at 26:42

(Shortened questions) - Is the scheduling system in the Philips Hue app reliable? I've had issues with it. Also, I'd like to have my outside lights come on at sunset and turn off at sunrise, but this doesn't seem possible. And, the Hue Motion Sensor seems limited. I can only select "Turn Off" or "Do Nothing" once the "no motion activity" timer expires. Can the lights resume their previous setting?

Quick Answer
I do find it reliable, but you may wish to ensure you have the latest app and Hue Bridge updates. For the other questions, there are actually specific solutions for this in Philips Hue Labs. (Additional explanation in the video)

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