Nest meets Philips Hue
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Just over a week on, and those have really taken off, we've sold out at least once!
In last week's post, I said that we planned to do the "Vesternet thing" and show how to use these new products with other systems. After all, this is what home automation's all about - having your home looking after itself. So this week, I thought we'd do this is a slightly different way. Rather than using a hardware controller, I want to take a look at what cloud services are already available to make this possible. We don't often look at cloud services, so it also gives us a chance to look at things like IFTTT. In the case of having Nest and Hue work together, it's only possible by having their cloud (servers) communicate with each other. One of the advantages of using cloud services, is that it's usually quick to implement - especially if other people have done all the work for you.
What's the Options?
There are two basic routes you can use to get the Nest and Hue systems working together - both quite painless. The first has been implemented by Philips themselves and gives you a quick and simple connection between the two systems. The second, is the original way by using IFTTT - this is much more flexible, but is slightly slower due to latency between the two cloud servers.
Nest Meet Hue
The Philips is a certified "Works with Nest" partner. This program aims to enable certified systems to integrate with Nest very quickly and easily - with as few button clicks as possible. In the case of Hue, the reality is as good as the promises. All you do is go to the Nest Meets Hue website, login to your Hue system and then authorise it to work with your Nest system. The process has nicely scripted, easy to follow steps and takes a couple of minutes - and it just works!
- Nest Meet Hue - https://nest.meethue.com/
Once connected you can use any of the Nest products to trigger the Hue lighting. You can have the heating turn off when you leave the house, and at the same time Nest will turn all your lights off. If the Protect detects smoke, it can turn the lights on and you can even select different colours for different events - so you could have the lights turn red if CO is detected. There are a few scenarios that you can test when you are setting it up - each one allows you to test the effect on the Hue, so you don't have to wait for the Nest devices to trigger it for testing.
In practise, this was easy to implement. Not getting into the technicalities, the systems aren't actually speaking directly with each other, they are sharing information between the cloud servers. So there will be a slight delay having these bounce up to the cloud, get translated and come down the other side. But for the things the Nest devices were triggering, the delay was almost imperceptible, you never notice it.
So for simplicity, I would go the "Nest meet Hue" route.
If you want more flexibility, and to be able to build your own rules and relationships, IFTTT gives you everything you need. If you've not come across IFTTT, it's well worth a look. IFTTT stands for IF This Then That - it's a cloud based system that can use input from various 'channels' and make something else happen based on the input. Both Nest and Hue have channels available on IFTTT and there are lots of 'recipes' available (31 at the moment) to quickly make them work together - turn the lights on when the thermostat sees you've arrived home, blink the Hue lights if smoke is detected... And you can create your own recipes, not just with Nest and Hue, but with all manner of things, even Gmail and Twitter.
In practise, IFTTT works OK, and has a huge amount of flexibility. Sometimes things happen more slowly than you'd like and this is an inherent weakness with IFTTT. They have an official latency of up to 15 minutes, so it can take anywhere between a few seconds to 15 minutes for the IF to be seen and the TTT to be actioned and sent down the pipe to your system. Mostly these happen fairly quickly, and for the things Hue and Nest would be used for are fine. Although I don't think I'd want a light switch turning Hue on via IFTTT - that lag would get annoying very quickly.
Overall, I really like how the Nest and Hue systems work together. Especially as this is all software (cloud) controlled and no need for additional hardware hanging off your network. Using the Philips "Nest Meet Hue" route was incredibly easy and gives what appears to be a nicely integrated system. I am sure there will be quirks and I will report on them over the next few weeks, now that both are installed in my live home system.
In the next couple of weeks we will also look at integrating the Nest and Hue systems into Z-Wave systems as well as other useful guides and tips & tricks.