Home Automation

I haven’t written in a while. As you may imagine, life has had a lot to do with it. But the other large contributing factor is the time I have invested into building out a (sweet) home automation system.

I’d love to say it is done, but let’s be honest, is any product ever done? The reality of Marvin, as I am calling my home automation, is that it is in a somewhat functional state. To date, it does a lot of the basics, with nothing more than a few minor bugs. As with any other product, I am prioritizing some of these bug fixes for later.

Here are some of it’s current capabilities:

  • Control Switches (On and Off)
  • Trigger Predefined Routines
  • Display Contact and Tilt Sensor status
  • Control Alarm (Armed, Home, Disarmed)
  • Control Locks
  • Control Garage Doors
  • Control Thermostat and View Temperature
  • Weather and 1 day Forecast
  • Control Entertainment through Spotify
  • Display Reminders and Events

Though the list of capabilities is expected to grow over the next few weeks or months, the above is enough to control at least 90% of my devices. Controlling switches is enough to turn lights on or off, displaying contact status used to display whether doors are open or closed, or the reminders and events used to show garage pickup information from the municipality.

Here is a short (and far from exhaustive) demo of what it looks like so far:

From here, I am looking to focus on entertainment, ensuring that those devices work well together, that mood is more easily set, and that rooms can be better defined and easy to navigate between. The ultimate goal being that this is a system that will compliment our lives and make things better.

My stretch goal, one that I constantly keep at the back of my mind: is there a possibility of making this publicly available. Short answer is yes. Hint: Check out my featured image to see just how easy it is for me to add a fully functioning tile/

Marvin: Automating my Smart Home Devices

Part of the process of designing Marvin is to carefully ensure that all devices within my home fit well into the ecosystem.  I severely underestimated the time it would take to carefully plan out each part of my ecosystem.

I’ve started buying and implementing smart home / IoT devices over the last year or so. The devices were implemented with the idea that they will all be managed a central device / hub in the future.  For a while, my hub of choice was the Wink Hub. But as smart home hubs evolved, SmartThings continued to get better.  While Wink is a terrific hub, SmartThings allows for far more complex automation routines or even create your own SmartApp.

While the hub itself was a difficult choice, the other devices were not a whole lot simpler unfortunately.  For one, I’ve been avoiding maintenance costs, as some devices have, like Nest Cams. Secondly, I tend to go for devices that support Windows devices as much as Android and iOS. Thirdly, the devices need to be user friendly enough that I would enjoy tinkering with it. Lastly, I try to choose devices that have mostly favorable reviews.  For devices to meet all 4 requirements has been surprisingly difficult.

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Marvin – Personalized and Smart Virtual Assistant

Over the last two years, I’ve been buying into Internet of Things (IoT) devices. While the devices themselves may be smart, they do not make a smart home.  In comes Marvin.  Unlike many who have gone for Jarvis as a name, I chose the name Marvin from Hitchhiker’s Guild to the Galaxy. Marvin has a brain the size of a planet, which is fitting considering the information it will be processing.
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