Though the term Internet of Things covers a vast range of tech, most people think of Smart Homes. There are many ways doing a Smart Home, but I think that the word "smart" is used a bit too loosely. If you have ever looked at consumer Smart Home products, most of them require an app on your phone and probably another app that connects those apps. Even then most of the logic that goes into Automations is limited to something like: "if this one thing happens, then do this other one thing". Then there is the constant request for remote internet access that ties up network resources, creates a security risk, and gives control over your personal data to large companies.
All that craziness so that you can press a button on your phone to turn out the lights. However, it doesn't have to be this way. A true Smart Home uses your local network to handle most things and only connects remotely when it needs to. What if you could keep your own data and use it to create dynamic and complex Automations so that you hardly ever need to use an app. What if your Smart Home was smart enough to do things on its own?
The Mini Smart Home is a test bed that can let you move one step closer to making a truly smart Smart Home. When finished, you will have a completely independent system that hosts a customisable browser based User Interface, a device management system, usage and data logging, advanced automation tools, and user account security. This is all done with a Smart Home server OS called Home Assistant.
What is Involved?
First we need a house to set up. We won't get into this much because there are so many ways that you can build a house. The house that you will see me work with is one that I designed on a laser cutter.
Next you will want to set up a Smart Home Hub. This is the brain of the house and the only device that uses remote internet access. It should be noted that while you do need a network setup for this kind of Smart Home, it doesn't need Internet access once all devices are setup and configured. Remote access can be made available through this Smart Home Hub if needed but we will talk more about that later.
Last is installing the individual devices that will be controlled through the home. There are many standards for this in an actual Smart Home and they all depend on if you are building a new home, retrofitting an older home, or renting a home. The standard is that if you can run physical wire through your home that is the best option, but it is not practical to do so unless you are building a new home. The next best thing is wireless tech like Z-Wave, WiFi, BLE, or LoRa and that is what most people go with for older homes and apartment dwellers. Since we are building the Mini Smart Home, we will be running physical wires from each device to a central microcontroller that will use WiFi to connect to the Smart Home Hub.