Home Assistant’s Amber is a ready-to-use smart home platform in a box

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With its new Ember Hub, the home assistant maker wants to break out of the mold

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Home Assistant, the powerful but thorny smart home automation platform, is finally heading mainstream. Nabu Casa, the company behind free, open-source software, has launched home assistant Ember, its first ready-to-use hub that can run home assistant software out-of-the-box. Unlike prior ways to use Home Assistant, minimal programming is required and you don’t need to build your own computer when you have Ember.

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Creators’ crowdfunding platform debuts rush supply This week, the $149 box is designed for both beginners and experienced HA fans. Shipping is targeted for June 2022, provided the $140,000 funding goal is met (that’s about a third of the way to be published).

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Home assistant Ember is designed to be user-upgradable, which helps it future-proof in the rapidly growing smart home space.
Image: Nabu Casa

The brain of the device is the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 (CM4), and A built-in Silicon Labs module Powers the Zigbee 3.0 connection, the main home assistant communication protocol.

With Zigbee on board, you can connect popular home automation products like Philips Hue lightbulbs and Ikea’s smart shades directly to the Ember Hub (no need to use their own bridges) and then connect them to your smartphone, tablet, or tablet. Can control in home assistant software. computer.

The Silicon Labs chip also supports OpenThread, and it says it’s working on making it compatible with Matter, the open standard on a mission to simplify the smart home.

The Ember Hub comes pre-assembled in a custom enclosure with Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 (CM4) and a heatsink for silent operation.
Image: Nabu Casa

Z-Wave compatibility can be added with a Z-Wave USB stick or via connection to a third-party hub such as Vera or SmartThings. The Ember Hub also has an M.2 extension port so you can plug in an SSD hard drive for more storage, among other expansion capabilities.

Notably, there’s no Bluetooth or Wi-Fi built-in, and the Internet connection is over Gigabit Ethernet. Home Assistant founder Paulus Schouten says that’s because they “don’t want people to get the idea of ​​connecting their smart home brains via Wi-Fi. It needs a reliable connection.” NS full glasses The Ember line up with other Raspberry Pi 4-based systems, though there’s no video-out for plugging in the display—you do all the maintenance and setup via the Home Assistant mobile or desktop app.

The Home Assistant’s primary appeal lies in its local control (the ability to access your devices even when the Internet is turned off); its secure, privacy-focused cloud offering; And it is completely platform agnostic. There are over a thousand compatible devices and integrations, many of which are not supported on other popular platforms such as Apple’s HomeKit, Samsung’s SmartThings, or Amazon’s Alexa. (A complete list of devices is published at home assistant website)

The Ember Hub can be controlled by the Home Assistant app on the smartphone.
Image: Nabu Casa

As an open-source project (with over 8,000 contributors on GitHub this year), Home Assistant’s capabilities are literally endless. However, they require a greater-than-people-will-keep-up along with a learning curve. Get ready to do some light coding to get your lights on.

The eight-year-old platform is incredibly powerful and can do more than most mainstream alternatives currently offer. There are standard automations for turning down your thermostat and closing your doors at night, but it can also track energy use, energy production (if you have solar power or similar), and help you keep up. Provides a stability score for your home. on track.

You need to be one of the first 500 backers to grab home assistant Ember as the company only has safe components for many units due to the current global shortage. There is also the option of an Ember kit that you can assemble yourself and which has the added capability of Power over Ethernet. They do not ship with CM4, and they are not user friendly.

The campaign ends on October 27, 2021, with production scheduled to begin in six months and units shipping on June 30, 2022.

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