'Five hours. The tub was filled with clear hot water.
Six, seven, eight hours. The dinner dishes did amazing tricks, then something clicked in the office, and a smoking cigar with a cap of soft gray ash suddenly appeared on a metal tripod near the fireplace, in which a cozy flame had flared up.
Nine o'clock. Invisible wires warmed the sheets — it was cold here at night.
Nine zero five. A voice came from the ceiling in the office:
– Mrs. McLellan, what poem would you like to hear today?
The house was silent. '
Ray Bradbury, 'It Will Rain Softly'.
From childhood, reading fantastic novels, I dreamed that someday I will definitely have my own smart home. The prospects for this were covered headlong, forcing them to come up with scenarios for interacting with this house and draw for themselves an amazing distant future, in which everything will certainly be automatic. A little more than 30 years have passed since then, and today anyone can get their hands on a system with which you can build that very smart home.
Therefore, when the opportunity arose to try such a system from a well-known company Xiaomi, I agreed without hesitation.
It was decided to start with a basic set, which includes the main gateway and several sensors. The set is delivered in a beautiful cardboard box. At first I even thought it was a gift set.
In addition to the gateway, the set includes a smart socket, a multifunction button, a motion / volume sensor and a door opening sensor. Inside the box, all this splendor is located in separate cells and makes the right impression: you take out the elements, feeling like an agent 007, who is preparing to assemble another technological miracle, so you do everything emphatically leisurely and thoroughly, savoring the moment.
The first inspection – you twist from all sides, assessing the quality of assembly and materials. With this, everything is in order – everything is very neat, no untidy seams, sharp corners and flaws. Materials are also pleasing – dense, high-quality white and gray plastic without foreign odors.
A tab is visible from the side, for which a cardboard envelope is pulled out, inside which, in turn, there are a brief instruction, a set of replaceable Velcro for sensors and a paper clip to activate pairing. That, in fact, is all.
In the accordion manual we find the QR code and use it to download the Mi Home application. It can also be found on Google Play or the App Store by searching.
Looking ahead, I must say that the application is imperfect, first of all, in terms of translation – paragraphs are often found in Chinese. Despite this, everything is intuitive and does not cause any difficulties – after sitting for 5-10 minutes and poking at menu items and buttons on the modules, you understand what's what. However, if you want to get maximum comfort and are not ready to put up with lurking hieroglyphs, then you have a direct road to w3bsit3-dns.com, to the corresponding forum topic. There you can download a modified and fully translated application by enthusiasts.
And we move on.
White plastic washer in a minimalist design, equipped with a single button, speaker and light sensor holes. This is the foundation of the entire smart home. There may be several of them in the house – each room has its own.
Next in the list is the volume / motion sensor.
A very small sensor that resembles an astronaut's helmet in appearance. Works remotely, powered by a standard CR2450 cell. Can be installed anywhere. The main thing is to place it with a “visor” to the monitored area.
Door / window open / close sensor.
Works according to the reed switch principle. Accordingly, it is necessary to install so that one part remains on the jamb, and the other ends up on the door. Moreover, it does not matter which part will be where. In my case, the sensor controls the front door and it looks like this:
Supports setting automation for one or two short presses and one long press. Works also with CR2450 battery. Installed with Velcro (double-sided tape). Lightweight and comfortable with a clear click.
It can serve as an intermediate hub, broadcasting a signal from the gateway, and therefore increasing the radius of the gateway. There is a button on the case with which you can forcibly disable it, or enable it independently of the gateway. Comfortable but a little massive. And the need to use an adapter makes it even bigger.
That's all that is in the kit. Other sensors, for example, a humidity and temperature sensor, can be purchased separately.
Home at work
The first thing to connect is, of course, the main gateway through which the interaction with your smart home will take place. Stock up on adapters from Chinese to European plugs in advance – all elements with plugs have their Chinese version.
But before we go any further, a few words about the protocol on which the elements of the smart home work – ZigBee. It is an add-on over IEEE 802.15.4., In fact, it is a separate energy efficient wireless network. Alas, your smartphone does not support this protocol, so you will not be able to control sensors and system elements directly from your smartphone – you need an intermediary in the form of this gateway. The smartphone interacts with the gateway, which, in turn, issues commands to the sensors. Regarding energy efficiency, as mentioned above, most sensors run on standard CR2450 batteries, which should last for about a year, so everything is fine with that.
In our case, the gateway from the Mijia manufacturer is equipped with LED backlighting with different colors of diodes, an online radio, a speaker that acts as an alarm, radio, alarm clock, doorbell, and a light sensor that can be used to automate some processes.
So, plug the gateway into an outlet, press the button on the gateway (the backlight will turn on) and launch the application on your smartphone.
Be prepared for the fact that during the configuration process the gateway will communicate with you in Chinese and it will do it quite loudly – do not be alarmed.
The app will ask you to connect to an existing Wi-Fi network. This is necessary for remote control of your smart home.
Then you will need to bring the phone to the gateway so that they recognize each other. This process reminded me of the acquaintance of dogs who, when they first meet, sniff each other. ?
After connecting the gateway, the application will offer to update the device firmware.
Now a couple of words about what settings the gateway has:
Inside the app, the gateway has three main tabs.
The first tab is the gateway.
It, in turn, has three more tabs:
- The first and foremost is arming. With one press, you can turn on the security mode.
- In the next window there will be radio control buttons (Chinese radio stations).
- And finally, the gateway lighting control window, where you can change the color, as well as the brightness of the glow.
Unfortunately, the radio stations are only Chinese. To turn on Russian radio stations, you need to mess with the application. Where can this be done? That's right, on the w3bsit3-dns.com forum. The radio can be used as an alarm clock.
Below is a list of intermediate devices connected directly controlled from the gateway, which allow broadcasting the signal from the gateway further. In our case, this is an outlet that can be turned on and off directly with one click.
The second window is 'Auto'.
It contains notification (alarm) settings, control of the automatic night light operation mode, timer, alarm clock, as well as doorbell settings.
Below in this window you will see the previously configured automation conditions and will be able to manage these settings.
The third window is 'Devices'.
Here is a list of all devices connected to the application, starting with the gateway. In this window, you can manage sensors, as well as add new or delete existing ones. The same list in the form of tiles can be seen on the main page of the application.
Let's go back to connecting the gateway.
Once the gateway and the phone find each other, you can start connecting peripherals to the gateway.
You can do this either manually, by choosing your gadget from an impressive list, or using an automatic search in the form of a radar, which will display the sensors available for connection.
To pair the sensor above it, you need to do additional manipulations – find a hole on the body (do not confuse, there may be several of them there – the one you need is signed) and poke the included paper clip into this hole, holding the press for about three seconds, until the sensor starts blink the LED, after which you can stop poking with a paper clip. To make it easier to find a hole, thumbnails will be shown on the screen while mating, indicating where to click.
After a few seconds, the gateway will happily notify you of a successful connection by saying a cheerful phrase in Chinese, and the newly connected one will appear in the application in the list of available sensors.
This will need to be done with all the sensors that you want to use.
After everything is connected, you can start setting up.
The setting, on the one hand, is not the most intuitive, while part of the menu is not translated from English, and some even from Chinese, and you have to use the scientific poke method. On the other hand, as soon as its logic becomes clear, everything goes like clockwork.
Among the settings, you can set certain conditions, if fulfilled or not, certain actions will take place.
In addition to the settings, in the application menu, you can also view the automation log – records of the facts of triggered settings from sensors.
In my case, I configured the existing elements as follows:
- The motion sensor is installed near the bed and works as a switch for the night light (airlock lighting) in the bedroom. It works only at night, from 0:00 am to 6:00 am. Thus, if someone gets out of bed at night, the sensor turns on the backlight and turns it off if there is no movement for two minutes.
- The door opening sensor acts as a security system and sends an alert to the smartphone if someone opened the door in the armed mode and forgot to disable / did not disable the security mode after that.
- A pilot in the kitchen is plugged into the smart plug, which powers the kitchen laptop, monitor, and a couple of other appliances. The socket can be controlled from the app.
- The multifunctional button performs several functions at once:
- single press – turns on the security mode, after which I have a few seconds to leave the house and close the door;
- double-clicking turns off or turns on the outlet to which the pilot is connected, to which the computer is turned on, the monitor in the kitchen, and other equipment. First, I plugged in a mosquito repellent that just started on a schedule, but then I thought it was a waste of using a smart device to control mosquitoes only;
- triple pressing disables the security mode.
When configuring the sensors, you will be asked to choose their location among preset options, such as living room, etc., or create your own location and name it whatever you like. This is useful when you have multiple gateways responsible for your sensor pool in different rooms. By the way, sensors connected to one gateway will not be controlled from another gateway.
The list of devices potentially available for connection is huge – you can choose sensors for a variety of conditions and scenarios. At the moment, all sensors are made by two manufacturers – aqara and Mijia.In addition, judging by the list, almost all smart equipment manufactured by Xiaomi and its partners can be connected to the gateway, which makes this system very flexible and comprehensive. But do not forget about the limitations – one gateway supports about 30 sensors. However, there are assurances on the network that someone managed to connect 50 or more sensors to one gateway.
With so many sensors available, you can think of a wide variety of automation scenarios.
For example, how would you like a scenario in which you have an air purifier Xiaomi installed, which turns on only when the windows are closed, and automatically turns off when the windows are open for more than one minute? This can be easily arranged using an open / close sensor located on the window and connected to the airlock along with an air purifier. Or, for example, if the temperature in the house has become higher than you want, information about this comes to the gateway from a wireless temperature sensor, after which the gateway gives a command to turn on the air conditioner and, after the temperature drops to the required temperature, it turns off this very air conditioner. And all this happens automatically.
But, in addition to convenience, this system can be armed against leaks by installing leak sensors in the right places that will inform you if they occur. There are a huge number of such scenarios. The main thing is that there are enough sensors.
Conveniently? Not that word. Expensive? And here we come to the most interesting thing – the price. In Russian retail, a basic set of a smart home Xiaomi can be bought for about 5,000 rubles, which, you see, is inexpensive for the opportunity to find out today what it is like to live in an automated house, which previously you only had to read about in fantastic novels.
The author thanks the company 'x-store' Ulyanovsk, for the set of devices Xiaomi 'Smart House' provided for review.