Homey by Athom is trying to simplify the smart home market making everything work together. It came to life after a successful Kickstarter campaign where they raised €203,918 from 996 backers. Fast forward nearly 3 years and here we are with Homey on general release.
What does Homey do?!
Homey is a smart home hub, made by Athom. It controls all the different smart home tech in your house in one interface and allows you to create rules and actions allowing them to interact. Think of it like a ‘local IFTTT’. As it connects so many different things the possibilities are almost endless!
It also has a powerful insights panel, where you can see exactly how much energy tech is using and what actions have been done. For example when were my lights turned on and off, when was my front door opened.
As well as home automation Homey has a music function, connecting to your Sonos Speakers and Spotify. Although we can’t help but feel this was an add on feature and not its main purpose. Its nice to have but not what got us excited about Homey.
Homey itself is a beautifully designed orb with a band of lights around it’s circumference. This is a smart home hub that we will happily leave on show!
How easy is it to setup?
Setup was unlike any smart tech we have setup before, instead of using your smartphone you are told you should use a PC or Mac. Setup is done via Homey’s website and then installer.
Once setup you are presented with an ‘empty house’. You need to install apps from their app store website onto your Homey so it can communicate with your smart home tech. As soon as you start to search you will notice the almost crazy amount of tech that it supports! Searching is simple and the user interface is very intuitive.
Once you install the app you can then configure it and add the tech to your house. You can then add it to the room groups.
One very important point is that Homey is a platform, one that anyone can develop on to. Think of it like the Apple App Store, endless developers and possibilities.
However this means those apps you installed to connect Homey to your tech could be created by anyone and not necessarily Homey or an official source. Whilst this is great for vast coverage it can result in sudden discontinued support if the developer decided to stop developing the app.
If you install apps into Homey from their website it is clearly mark who developed it, Install via the PC app and no such signposting. We connected Ring and gave it our credentials without realising it was a 3rd party, this should be clearer and be a cause for concern.
Athom got in touch with us and wanted to add on this point:
“Every App is reviewed by Athom on a regular base, and community developed Apps have a set of requirements they have to fulfil before being released into the App store.”
That is good to hear and does reassure us on the concept of the App store.
The apps also add functionality not just connectivity, for example there is a Soundboard app that allows you to play sounds via a Flow.
For example if door sensor is triggered and we are not home play MP3. This is brilliant functionality and can easily be setup to make it appear someone is in when they are not.
Once setup on desktop you can install the phone app and allow it to track location for location based triggers. An odd omission from the app is any ability to administrate your house like adding devices or flows.
You can also manage your Homey via the website, the interface is exactly the same as the installed app. This is handy for when your not at home.
How much does Homey cost?
£269 from Amazon or direct. The price tag might put some people off but as it supports so much and does so much we think it is fair but would be good if slightly lower.
What’s the connectivity?
Homey has the most connectivity and support we have ever seen on any smart home tech!
- NFC — 13.56 MHz
- RF — 868 MHz
- ZigBee — 2.4 GHz
- Bluetooth — 2.4 GHz
- RF — 433 MHz
- Z-Wave — 868 MHz
- Wi-Fi — 2.4 GHz
- Infrared — 430 THz
It even has the ability to learn from remote controls.
Homey has a built in voice, you can select from a list of voices, as well as a ‘in development’ voice recognition. We decided to connect it to Alexa as we use her for most things. This is easily done by adding the Homey Skill in the Alexa app.
You can then use the microphone input in flows to trigger flows. As always with Alexa you need to refer to the skill, for example:
“Alexa ask Homey to Sleep”
This turns off all our lights and closes the blind, very impressive.
As if that was not enough Homey supports IFTTT so you can connect it to anything IFTTT supports.
Finally homey has a very active online community where new integrations, idea and apps are discussed.
What’s it like living with it?
This is a helpful, useful and exciting addition to our smart home.
We have managed to connect things we never thought possible and activate them via a single command, for example our Somfy blind, Philips Hue and TV.
However this is new tech and it did have a few little hiccups, for example it suddenly one day asked us via voice
“I’m sorry I don’t understand what you are asking of me”
One time we tried to use it it was not responding and we had to reboot it. That said even ‘market leader’ Alexa has bad days and quirks.
What are our final thoughts?
It is very refreshing to find one device that works with so many different technologies and from every price point. As the tech supported is so wide supported tech includes simple doorbells, that cost £25, as well as low cost sensors and monitors. This suddenly makes the smart home much more accessible.
If you are looking for a smart home controller and are prepared for a little geeky setup, flows and reporting this is for you!
If you are looking for an off the shelf, plug and play and forget home automation solution, this is not for you. However as Homey develops we would not be surprised if it does become the solution of choice.
Homey just need to cater for these users a little more. In a similar way to how an iPhone will work out of the box as a phone, yet you can install apps and setup additional features if you want too.
Definitely one to watch!
For more information you can also check out their website: http://www.athom.com/