Take the ability to connect to almost any smart home device, mix in a few smart rules and sprinkle in a host of security features and you’ve got a pretty decent idea of what Homey offers. Instead of handing over all your data to your smart home provider, Homey promises to keep your data safe and out of advertisers’ dirty paws.
Homey has been operating in Europe since 2014 and today announced its US expansion at CES. The key problem it solves is that many smart home solutions are very tinkered with and in the process become huge data collectors that can be used for nefarious purposes. To date, customers have been tricked into accepting that this is just the cost of having a smart home, but this is where the company thinks there is another way: the company claims that it does not listen to or sell any customer data, nor does it use personal information to create user profiles or targeted advertisements.
In addition to blindfolding smart home providers from each other, the company’s Homey Pro smart home hub brings some fun new features into the mix. If you’ve ever played with If This Then That (IFTTT), you’ve probably found some nifty automation: turn on the light when someone rings the doorbell or turn down the volume on the speakers after 10:00 p.m., for example. . The Homey app incorporates a ton of this kind of functionality into the basic app architecture. The company calls these automations “flows” and gives a number of examples, including “Always dim the lights in the bedroom when the curtains close” or “Automatically lower the thermostat, turn off the lights and activate the alarm when I’m locking the front door.”
Streams can, of course, also be launched using voice assistants, including Google Shortcuts, Alexa and Siri. The company also offers widgets for mobile and Apple Watch.
Along with the obvious voice commands, streams, and other stuff you’d expect, the apps offer tools to analyze power consumption in real time and offer suggestions on how to save additional electricity. It can, for example, compare the energy consumption between the “hot” and “cold” cycles of a washing machine, or give an overview of the most (and least) energy-efficient parts.
Homey claims its smart hubs can connect to more than 50,000 smart home devices from over 1,000 brands, and it offers iOS, Android, and web apps to take control and configure the whole experience. The hub itself has connectivity galore, with Zigbee, Z-Wave Plus, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 433 MHz radios, plus infrared transmission LEDs for transmitting commands throughout the home.
The Homey app can be used to control smart home devices – either through the $69 Homey Bridge or as an app-only solution without the need for Homey hardware. The free version of the Homey app controls up to five devices, while a premium version lets an entire household connect an unlimited number of smart devices. The premium version of the app would cost you $2.99 per month.
“Each house is unique; it is not one size fits all. Most smart home systems today are centered around a single brand, technology, or use case. For example, Philips Hue is great for lighting, but that’s all it does,” said Emile Nijssen, co-founder and creative director of Athom, creators of Homey. “As a result, your smart home can quickly become complicated and cluttered with all sorts of different apps. Our goal with Homey is to change the status quo and create an open, affordable and user-friendly system that unifies all smart devices and ensures consumer privacy at the same time.