Most of the devices and systems we refer to as home automation are acutally more about home control than automation. For a system to be automated, it has to do something (open a door, turn off the lights, call the police…) without the user having to do anything.
Automation actually comes from integrating sensors and conditional statements with a control system. A new take on that process is coming from a company called Revolv, which is developing a user-installed product that uses a smartphone’s built-in GPS to sense your location and automate actions based on where you are.
For instance, when you pull into the driveway, instead of an outdoor motion sensors (which are commonly used in home automation systems) the user’s smart phone would tell the home systems that the phone is approaching and automatically open the garage door. Likewise, when the user walks out of the front door, the phone could tell the system that it’s left (based on the GPS coordinates) and automatically shut the lights and arm the security system.
Does your house take a while to heat up or cool down? You can set the device to adjust the HVAC system 15 minutes or an hour before you get home.
The Rovolv system doesn’t use GPS data for everything. If can connect to a wide variety of devices. The company says the system’s hub contains seven different radios compatible with ten different wireless protocols, presumably including Wi-Fi, Z-Wave and Zigbee, which would cover most everything on the market.
Users can set up macros and programmed events, which the company calls LifeStories, to perform desired tasks either timed or by pressing buttons on the iOS app.
The company doesn’t specifically identity what devices Revolv is compatible with (or will be compatible with, since it isn’t available for purchase yet) but a sign-up form for beta testers lists a variety of specific products including Dropcam , Philip’s Hue lighting, Sonos, Honeywell thermostats, Nest thermostats, Lowe’s IRIS control system, Kwickset and Yale locks, Liftmaster garage door openers and others.
Setup is supposed to be simple. The hub automatically pulls the Wi-Fi configuration information from your smartphone. It will then find all the wireless devices in your house and add them to the system.
If this isn’t interesting enough, Revolv is apparently also looking into ways to use Google Glass as a home control interface. In a demo, a Revolv developer uses Google Glass to control an Insteon light, Yale lock and Sonos music system with taps and a Philips Hue light with voice control. Check out this video below to see how that works.
As noted, Revolv isn’t on the market yet, but there’s a program set up for beta testers to get in on the system early.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.