Elgato Eve

Elgato Eve

I've written previously about our recent delve into home automation. The real star of this endeavour has been a company called Elgato, who you may have heard of if you're into realtime video capture and gaming accessories but otherwise likely haven't really come across.

Elgato's Eve range are discrete, Bluetooth-enabled devices that work exclusively with Apple HomeKit. In order to make the most of them you also need a recent generation Apple TV, but so long as you have a recent generation iPhone or iPad you can make use of them. Unlike many smart home/home automation products no hub or gateway device is required, and the choice to operate on Bluetooth low energy standards is an interesting one. For a start, it doesn't expose the devices or your network to vulnerability via wi-fi. This doesn't mean the Eve devices are completely immune from any kind of malware, but it does mean that any exploit targeting them will be very uncommon. Indeed they never connect to your network at all, only to iOS and tvOS devices (they even update via Bluetooth and your iPhone)

They're really well built, most current Eve devices having a very Apple-like white plastic construction and some newer additions having an aluminium enclosure with a screen panel on the front. Even the product branding is understated and they just fade into the room, never really drawing any attention to themselves. The Eve products that do not connect directly to a power source require AA batteries, so you'll want to be mindful of keeping some spares to hand, though the battery life seems to be really strong.

Eve Accessories interface directly with HomeKit. The Elgato Eve app provides much of the same functionality as the iOS Home app, with a few additions including the ability to configure individual devices (such as the sensitivity of motion sensors). You do not need to use the Eve app at all to use Eve products, but it affords you a level of finesse in your automation in some cases. The major addition however is a level of data visualisation based on sensor readings and accessory usage. There are graphs and historical data views that HomeKit itself does not provide. I've found that for the day to day use of these products the Home app is more than capable, but for initial setup and the occasional review of usage the EvE app has been really helpful.

The first product we purchased was an Eve Room. This is a temperature, humidity and air-quality sensor. Once it's set up you place it somewhere in your room, or mount it to a wall, and it sits there and gathers information; taking readings every ten minutes. Primarily I was just interested in having those readings available — the flat can get humid and isn't super-well ventilated. This purchase led to further purchases.

We got another Eve Room, and two Eve Energy units. Eve Energy is a smart socket. It goes between your wall socket and your device, can be manually switched on and off by a button on the unit itself, or can be remotely controlled or automated. The setup was simple: if Eve Room said it was too warm or too cold then the fan in each room would automatically turn on or turn off. It works like a charm. This has been really useful recently at night where its been warm enough to have the fan on when we go to sleep, but gets cold during the night.

Spurred on by how cool this all felt (and still does) we made another purchase. Three Eve Motion units. These are simple motion detectors. They have two important configurable qualities: sensitivity and duration. Sensitivity is how easily they register as triggered, and duration is how long they stay triggered for. If there is further motion during the duration period it is extended. One unit sits in the entryway and turns the light on when someone walks in, either preparing to leave or arriving. The other two are in the bathroom and the en suite so that the lights come on automatically during use. The smart lighting system we're using is Ikea Tradfri. The sensors are all set to high sensitivity (you don't always move a lot when you're in the bathroom for an extended period) and to a couple of minutes duration - so long as you move a little in those couple of minutes the light stays on — and turns off two minutes after you vacate. It was amusing to point out to John that looking at the graph of motion sensor activations in the Eve app you could clearly determine the purpose of each trip to the bathroom. Eve Motion can also trigger push notifications, and ours are set to send notifications if they trigger when we aren't at home.

Eve Button

Eve Button

There is a new Eve product coming out called Eve Button. This is a simple trigger device. You can trigger three different events from it; any kind of event or scene that HomeKit is capable of. I'm going to pick one up to play around with. These could fill a number of functions, from enabling you to place, effectively, light switches in places that are more convenient for you, to turning off anything or anything connected to a smart socket from the comfort of your own bed as you wrap up for the night.

There are a handful of other Eve products that we haven't played with yet, some that we will when we're not in rented property. Eve Door and Window is a sensor that knows when your doors and windows open and close, can trigger events or notifications. Eve Degree is a room temperature sensor, essentially a less feature rich Eve Room but with water resistance enabling it to be placed outdoors. Eve Thermo is a smart radiator valve that allows you to control your heating system on a per-radiator basis.

I'm really impressed with these products.

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iPhone X

iPhone X