Our homes are getting smarter and smarter.
If you use an iPad or iPhone, you may not even realise you have already have ability to set up an entire smart home using Apple HomeKit.
The Eve range of devices is designed specifically for this service, pre-installed on all late-model iOS devices. Unlike other smart accessories, the Eve product line isn't interconnected via WiFi, but over low-energy bluetooth. While you can use the HomeKit app to set up each device, the native Eve app is more user-friendly and offers more features and customisations.
Each device has its own unique code, which you can scan in using the camera on your iPhone or iPad. This pairs the devices from which point you can name them and designate a room. We're talking a wide range of products here; lights, motion sensors, smoke detectors, there's even a weather station.
I started with something simple; the smart plug.
I've used other smart plugs before, so we won't go into all the uses there may be for such a device - needless to say, the basic idea is it'll turn on or off when you schedule it to. The main difference with the Eve version is it also monitors how much power is being used by whatever is plugged into it. This is potentially very useful information, especially if you're using high electricity use devices like heaters and fans. You can even ration how much power you go through by instructing the switch to turn off when a certain amount of electricity has been used. As smart plugs go, it's very smart indeed. Because it can be triggered by events detected by other Eve devices, you could potentially set a fan going when the room temperature rises over a certain point, or even turn a radio on if a window is opened unexpectedly.
There's just one issue; this thing is pretty huge, much bigger than a normal sized plug. That means you won't be able to use the other half of any double wall socket you plug it into. And it'll take up more than its fair share of space on a multiboard too. There's a solution to that last problem - Eve does its own triple-outlet energy strip.
As I've said, the Eve ecosystem is an extensive one, even extending outside the home. This is the perfect time of year to put the Eve Aqua to use. It's a smart water controller; basically a remote control for your garden hose.
Again, setting up and pairing the Eve Aqua is a cinch - although I found it a real challenge getting the battery compartment open so I could insert the batteries included in the box. A certain amount of brute strength was required but I got there in the end. I actually found this somewhat reassuring as we're talking a device that gets wet and lives outside, so we probably want those batteries to be tucked up nice and tight.
The build quality is impressive. You simply unscrew your existing hose fitting from the tap and attach the Eve Aqua instead. The high-quality washers and O-rings meant I've yet to see a single drop leak out. Not only can you then turn the water off and on from your iPhone or iPad, you can schedule watering times or leave a sprinkler on, with instructions for the Eve Aqua to turn it off after a period you've specified. Given I've just spent all weekend planting trees in my backyard, I have a feeling this is going to be pretty useful.
The one downside of the Eve system of connected devices is it's an Apple-only affair. If you're an Android or PC-based household, you'll have to look elsewhere. That also means no integration with other automation services like Amazon Alexa, although Siri is more than happy to turn your plugs, lights and hoses on and off for you. Just say the word.
On the plus side, because Eve is bluetooth-based and isn't connected via WiFi, there's virtually no risk of hacking from outside the system - a concern that could become even more serious once New Zealand's 4G networks come online and devices like these will potentially connect directly to the world-wide-web. Your Eve network is limited to and controlled solely by the device you use to set it up, which means absolute security.
Although these aren't strictly Apple products, theyareavailable through the Apple store andlikeApple products, I've found they're extremely straightforward to use and work very reliably.
Click here for more information on the Eve ecosystem of Apple HomeKit devices.
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