ConnectSense at CES 2017! [VIDEO]

The ConnectSense crew was excited to show off some of our products coming out in 2017 at this year's CES!

Controlling and monitoring a home can take a lot of work. In the past, it required the user to be present constantly. Our goal is to make controlling your home a simple and efficient process. It all starts with one device, one problem, and one solution. Building upon that by adding more devices creates a much bigger picture, step-by-step, evolving into a truly smart home.

The three products we chose to show off this year include:

The ConnectSense Bluetooth Extender-
The new ConnectSense Bluetooth Extender enables users to access their Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) sensors and devices from outside the home. The Bluetooth Extender can be configured to work with Apple HomeKit or the ConnectSense Cloud. Utilizing HomeKit, users can securely control all of their HomeKit accessories from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Using the Bluetooth Extender as a hub, users can control and monitor their smart devices from just about anywhere.

Bluetooth Sensors-
The second generation of the ConnectSense Sensors are more compact, versatile, battery-efficient, and are lower cost than their predecessors. Each sensor is configurable for Apple HomeKit or for the ConnectSense Cloud. By integrating with the HomeKit ecosystem, users can easily utilize sensor data to monitor and automate their homes. The ConnectSense Cloud enables collection of sensor data and alerts via text or email, notifying you of changes in your environment

Water Sensor- 
The ConnectSense Water Sensor detects the presence of water before it causes costly damage. It is perfect for detecting leaks in basements and laundry rooms, as well as monitoring plumbing and refrigeration lines. The Sensor provides water alerts via HomeKit or the ConnectSense Cloud.

Temperature and Humidity Sensor-
The ConnectSense Temperature and Humidity Sensor provides accurate and reliable data for sensitive areas of the home including wine cellars, collection rooms, greenhouses, and more. It works in harmony with HomeKit-enabled thermostats to regulate temperature in areas where a thermostat isn't present.

Watch the full video below.

In this episode of Smart Home Tech, Adam Justice of ConnectSense gives you a brief overview of some of the new products ConnectSense had to show off at CES 2017. Questions? Comment below or tweet Adam at @adamjustice ConnectSense on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/ConnectSense/pages/default?pageId=TO3EZAGQIFDV8YB&channel=YouTube www.ConnectSense.com

The Home App for Apple HomeKit (Part 2)

Apple recently unveiled the Beta 1 version of its newest operating system, iOS 10, at WWDC 2016. In order to discover more about this exciting release, Adam Justice of ConnectSense upgraded all of his devices to iOS 10, Beta 1.  There are innovative new features that can not only be accessed on the iPhone, but on the Apple Watch, iPad, Apple TV, and even using CarPlay.

Once iOS 10 is up and running on the iPhone, there is a pretty useful function that can be accessed on the home screen. The user has the ability to 3D touch the icon for the Home app and run a scene from there, without having to open the app itself. There is also an option to add a new scene from this menu, and once this option is selected, the app will launch and the user will automatically be directed to the scene creation screen.

The Apple Watch also unlocks some very powerful functions with watchOS 3, Beta 1. The Home app can be accessed by clicking on the dock button on the Apple Watch. Once the Home app is launched, there is a simple list of the accessories. The user has the ability to scroll through all of their HomeKit accessories using the digital crown. For any outlets or simple devices, there is an on/off button that can be used to control each device. For anything that is dimmable, the digital crown can be used to set the level of brightness. At the top of the menu, there is a list of all of the user’s scenes that can be controlled with the touch of a button. If the user has multiple home’s set up, they can use force touch to change to an alternative location.

Another device in Apple’s arsenal is the iPad Pro, which can be used in order to further explore the new features of iOS 10, Beta 1. The first important thing to examine can actually be found in the iPad’s settings. Once in settings, head down to the settings for the Home app. There will be an option titled, “Use this iPad as a Home Hub.” If the user has an iPad that is always at home, they can check this setting and use that iPad as a home hub to access any of their HomeKit devices while away from home. This is a really powerful setting if there is an iPad that can always be left at home.

The Home app on the iPad is fairly similar to the one we see on the iPhone, except there is a lot more screen real-estate so the user can easily see their favorite scenes and devices. In the top left corner of the screen, there is a summary of all of the devices that are on within the user’s home environment. The next thing to explore is the “Rooms” tab, which can be accessed with the middle button on the bottom of the screen. Instead of going through the rooms menu at the top, the user can quickly switch between their rooms by swiping the screen to the left or right.

The last section of the Home app is the “Automation” tab, which is the bottom right button. In the first ConnectSense walkthrough, we didn’t have access to the automation section, but there are ways three ways to access the functions of this tab. The first way to do this is by enabling an iPad to act as a home hub, which was discussed above. The next way to do this is to have an Apple TV running tvOS 10, Beta 1. However, the simplest way is by downloading another HomeKit app, such as the ConnectSense app, that has support for things like triggers, automations, or rules, and then adding a new automation within that new app. This will enable the user to be able to see the automation tab in the Home app. Once this is complete, the user has some really powerful options. New automations can be set up by clicking the “create new automation” button in the middle of the screen.

There are four options for automation that are based off of when the user’s location changes (geofencing), the time of day, when an accessory is controlled, or when a sensor detects something. These are all great tools to get started on home automation. Setting up automation based on time of day is very useful. One of the really awesome new features in this section that was not available in iOS 9 is the ability to trigger something based off of the sunrise and sunset. So if the user has outside lights or any other devices that need to be controlled based off of the sun, this is a great option because the time of the sunrise and sunset will change based off of what time of year it is. The user can also select a specific time of day and set it to repeat on various days of the week. The accessory based options also give the user quite a bit of control. This is a really great way to set up automations so that doing one device will trigger other devices. An example would be if the someone turned on a light in the morning, it could then trigger a “good morning” scene that would turn on other devices in the home. Another great thing is that these automations sync across devices. This is a big upgrade because any rules or automations set up on an iOS 9 device were unable to be transferred to another device.

The last major function of the Home app on the iPad can be found on the “Home” tab. The user can further examine a device by holding down on its icon. A menu will then pop up with information on the device. Within the device details, there is actually a link to the manufacturers app. So if the user is using a ConnectSense Smart Outlet, they can access the ConnectSense app from this menu. Even though the Home app is very powerful, there will typically be certain manufacturer features, firmware updates, and things like that, which can only be accessed through the manufacturer’s app.

The Apple TV can help expand the functionality of HomeKit with the use of tvOS 10, Beta. With the use of this Beta, we can now utilize Siri commands with the Apple TV remote. The user has the ability to say something along the lines of “set my thermostat to 72 degrees,” or “set my home for ‘I’m leaving.’” This will help give home owners much more control over their network of HomeKit devices.

One of the coolest new features for iOS 10 is the fact that HomeKit works with CarPlay, which it did not for iOS 9. The user has the ability to use Siri voice commands within their car in order to control their various HomeKit devices in their home. An example would be if someone was about to leave their home and was in their car, they could say “set my home for ‘I’m leaving,’” which would trigger a scene for the home from the car. This gives the user much more control over their home environment.

(Part 2 of 2) Adam Justice is back from WWDC and has upgraded all of his Apple Devices to iOS 10, Beta 1. In this episode, Adam Justice of ConnectSense continues from his first video of the Home app (https://youtu.be/A-m1afEEoHo?list=PLsluzrxrM99peR-ucD7lrzrF_mgQfgjqe) to show you more of its new features not only on the iPhone, but on the Apple Watch, iPad, Apple TV, and even using CarPlay.

Preview: The Home App for Apple HomeKit

Apple is hosting the 2016 World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) this week in San Francisco. During the keynote speech on Monday, Apple announced a lot of exciting information regarding iOS10, Apple HomeKit, and the new Home app. This was the first time HomeKit was covered at WWDC since it was released two years ago. ConnectSense was able to get the developers copy of iOS10 and explore the exciting Home app.

The home screen of the Home app shows the user what is currently going on with their devices as well as any of their favorite scenes or devices. Any accessories added to HomeKit will have the option of being added to the favorites section. All of the favorites can be controlled with the touch of a button from the home screen. It is also incredibly easy to change the home in which devices are being controlled if the user has multiple homes. Editing the settings and layout of the home screen are very manageable and simple. In the top right corner of the screen there is a “+” that allows for the creation of scenes and accessories. When creating a scene, there are often suggestions for appropriate applications of scenes, but the user also has the option to name the scene themselves. The user has the ability to add whatever accessories they want to the scene; then they can alter the states of the accessories. An example would be a scene that locks the front door, closes the garage door, turns off the lights, and sets the thermostat. Before the scene is finalized, there is an option to test the scene as well as add it to the favorites menu.

The rooms screen allows the user to break down their devices a little bit more. There are still scenes as there was on the home screen, but this time there is an option to select different rooms instead of homes (e.g., garage, living room, bedroom). Various accessories and scenes can be added within a room environment, giving the user more power over devices.

The last aspect of the Home app is the automation screen. There isn’t much in this portion of the app mostly because this is beta one, but it is safe to assume more will be in this section down the line. Even though there isn’t a lot of functionality to the automation tab, there is an interesting fact included. It states that Apple TV is essentially a gateway when the user is away from home. In addition to this, it says that an iPad that is left at home can be used as a gateway as well.

The iOS10 software provides a lot of power for Apple HomeKit. Besides the Home app, the user is also able to control their favorite accessories and scenes from the Control Panel. Simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen for an easy way to control devices. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting software.

Apple just announced the Home app at WWDC 2016. In this episode, Adam Justice of ConnectSense gives you a tour of the beta version of the Home app and shows you some of it's coolest features. Questions? Comment below or tweet Adam at @adamjustice ConnectSense on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/ConnectSense/pages/default?pageId=TO3EZAGQIFDV8YB&channel=YouTube www.ConnectSense.com

How to Use Scenes in Apple HomeKit

The ability to create scenes is one of Apple HomeKit’s most powerful features. When you are getting started with HomeKit, setting up scenes is going to be one of the first things you do. Scenes are a great way to control the state of one device, or even multiple devices, all at once.

After you set up a scene, you can then control it using Siri voice commands. There are four built-in scenes, but you also have the ability to create custom Scenes within HomeKit. The four default scenes within iOS 9 are “Good Morning,” “Good Night,” “I’m Home,” and “I’m Leaving.”

Let’s walk through setting up the “Good Morning” scene as an example. If you want a cup of coffee in the morning, you can select your coffee pot, and turn it on. If you want your house a little bit warmer in the morning, you can select the thermostat and set the temperature to something like 70 degrees. In order to finalize the changes you made, click the “Save” button in the top right corner of the screen. This scene can be activated by clicking on the “Scenes” menu in the ConnectSense app by clicking the “Activate” button.

Another way to activate the scene can be through Siri voice control by saying “Good morning Siri.” Siri would then proceed to activate the scene and begin adjusting the thermostat and turn on the coffee maker.

Now that you know how to set up scenes in HomeKit, what do you want to automate using scenes? Comment below!

Scenes are one of the most powerful features of Apple HomeKit... but how do you use them? In this episode, Adam Justice of ConnectSense shows you how to set up scenes in your home using the ConnectSense app and then activating them using the touch of a finger or Siri voice control.

How to Access HomeKit Products Away from Home

One of the most common questions about HomeKit is in regards to how to control HomeKit devices when you are away from home. This requires either a third or fourth generation Apple TV.

  1. Once your Apple TV is installed, enable iCloud on your iOS device. You want to make sure you are signed into the same iCloud account on both your iOS device and your Apple TV.
  2. You want to make sure that “iCloud Keychain” is turned on.
  3. Go to the “Settings” menu and scroll down to “HomeKit.” Once you are in this menu, enable “Use iCloud,” then go into your home and select “Allow Remote Access.”
  4. Once all of those settings are set on your iOS device, you’re going to want to move to your Apple TV and click on “Settings,” which is the grey gear icon.
  5. Once in settings, click on “Accounts” under general, followed by clicking on “iCloud.” After this you are going to want to click on “Sign in.” When you are signing in you are going to want to enter the same email address that you put in the iCloud settings on your iOS device.

Now you will be able to control devices when you are away from home. An example of this would be utilizing a Siri command such as, “turn on the lamp,” which will turn on the HomeKit device even if you are away from home.

Now that you know how to set up remote access for your HomeKit devices, what are some things you want to control while away from home? Comment below!

Having Apple HomeKit products doesn't just mean using them while you're at home! In this episode, Adam Justice of ConnectSense shows you how you can access and control your HomeKit products even while you're away. Questions? Comment below or tweet Adam at @adamjustice ConnectSense on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/ConnectSense/pages/default?pageId=TO3EZAGQIFDV8YB&channel=YouTube www.ConnectSense.com