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This New Startup Uses iPhone’s UWB Feature to Control Your Smart Home – Digikar

📱 2022-08-17 14:00:00 – Paris/France.

The smart home has an interface problem, and six Duke undergrads think they’ve solved it with a Raspberry Pi and Apple’s U1 chip. They think most of the current methods of controlling smart devices — voice control, tedious apps with multiple menus, motion sensors — are cumbersome and sometimes frustrating. What the smart home needs, they say, is an intuitive control interface and automations that trigger based on where you are in your home. Basically, one app to rule everything. And they are not wrong.

Fluid One is their solution. A smart home app that harnesses the ultra-wideband technology of Apple iPhones, Fluid can control connected lighting, locks, cameras, thermostats and more. in two ways: a point-and-click control interface and location-based automations.

Simply point your iPhone at a smart bulb and the appropriate controls automatically appear to brighten, dim, change color, or turn the light on or off. Or, flick your phone up or down to control a device, no key required. “It’s like HomePod Mini/iPhone transfer but for any compatible device,” says Tim Ho, one of Fluid’s six co-founders. The edge.

The app can also run in the background to trigger smart home automation based on your phone’s location as you move around. For example, set the lights in a hallway to turn on when you walk through and turn off when you leave. Or turn on the TV, adjust the thermostat, and turn the lights off when you sit on your couch after 6 p.m.

“It’s like a HomePod Mini transfer but for any compatible device. »

If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because iOS developer Bastian Andelefski developed a prototype app to do just that last year. At the time, he said he needed someone to develop the hardware to make it work in your home. And that’s what the team behind Fluid is trying to do, with Andelefksi on board as technical advisor.

The system combines hardware — UWB-enabled smart beacons and an optional smart hub — with an augmented reality-powered app that leverages Apple’s ARKit framework to generate an AR map of your home and detect where your phone is and which smart device it is likely to point to. . The system can make those guesses because those ultra-wideband beacons are mounted on your walls, and the phone can measure its distance to each one. It’s basically an indoor GPS, but with UWB beacons instead of satellites.

When you first set up the system, go to each device you want to add, register its location in the app, and connect it to a beacon. Each beacon has a range of 18-20 feet to encompass all devices within that space.

According to Fluid, this creates a context-aware space that uses your iPhone to control devices, either automatically or on demand. As you enter or exit each range, different automations will trigger depending on the time of day and other conditions, and different device commands will appear on your iPhone depending on what you are closest to. You can also use the app to control devices in other rooms, not just nearby ones.

The Fluid One app uses smart home beacons for point-and-click control and a smart hub for automations.

Image: Fluid

“Our system calculates the phone’s position in 3D space by simultaneously measuring its distance to multiple smart nodes on the walls of your room,” says Fluid co-founder Rahul Prakash. “It then determines the phone’s orientation using the phone’s augmented reality engine (camera, compass, gyroscope and accelerometer). These measurements are compared to your smart device’s preset locations to infer what you’re likely pointing at. »

Essentially turning your iPhone into a remote control, Fluid One replicates some of the features of the much-loved Logitech Harmony and overpriced Sevenhugs remotes. Now discontinued, these were physical remote controls for connected devices, including entertainment systems. Fluid One has an IR controller built into its hub hardware to help pick up where those other remotes left off. By the way, Sevenhugs was recently acquired by Qorov, a semiconductor company that manufactures UWB chips.

The Fluid One app can control all of your compatible smart home devices in one app.

Image: Fluid

Fluid One is launching today on Kickstarter with a goal of $100,000 to begin production of the system. Early risers can pick up a Fluid One Lite kit for $249, which contains four smart nodes to provide point-and-click capability. Additional tiers range from $449 to $749 (more money gets you more nodes for a bigger home) and add a smart hub to provide location-based automation capability.

When the product officially launches – Fluid is aiming for early 2024 for general release – the price will be $399 to $899 (apparently those UWB chips are expensive).

The system only works with an iPhone 11 or newer, and while other phone makers, including Samsung and Google, use UWB, Fluid doesn’t yet work with those phones. Fluid co-founder Shrey Sambhwani says the team is “expecting a robust software interface” before supporting Android.

When (and if) Fluid launches – the delivery date to Kickstarter backers is winter 2023 and the company has a working prototype – the system should be compatible with a long list of devices and ecosystems of smart home.

These include Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings, Zigbee and Z-Wave devices, Ring, Nest, Philips Hue, Ecobee, Lutron, Nanoleaf, iRobot, Sonos and many more. This broad compatibility is because the brains of the system are built on a Raspberry Pi smart hub running Home Assistant and HomeBridge software.

Ho also points out that there are no built-in cameras or microphones in any of his hardware; Also, the location data used to trigger the automations sits between your phone and the beacons, not sent to a server somewhere.

Fluid will also be compatible with Matter, and Ho says the advent of the new smart home standard is one of the factors that made Fluid One possible. “If you have multiple devices, that’s where you see the value of our system, being able to tie them together,” he says. “Matter brings unity to the smart home, so we can link even more devices together. »

The Fluid One app uses battery-powered smart beacons that you place around your home to identify the location of smart devices.

The disadvantages of Fluid are obvious, even fatal. It only works with iPhones and you have to take your phone with you throughout the house. When I tested RoomMe (a similar concept but using Bluetooth) this was my biggest gripe. I don’t want to have to walk around my house with my phone in my hand or even in my pocket.

If Fluid worked with an Apple Watch, that would be more compelling. Sambhwani says it’s not technically possible yet, but a future update from Apple might make it a reality.

In a perfect world, this technology would be integrated into existing devices in our smart homes.

In a perfect world, this kind of technology would be integrated into existing devices in our smart homes. The idea of ​​sticking more single-use white plastic hubs and beacons around my house isn’t appealing (and doubly so for $900). But if every Thread border router also sported a UWB chip, it would be a no-brainer, even if it’s potentially prohibitively expensive.

The obvious solution is for Apple to adopt/expand this technology and turn its HomePod Minis into more versatile beacons that take advantage of the power of the UWB hardware they already have, beyond just transferring music from your phone up. smart speaker. If Apple is interested in this idea, I know a few smart students they should talk to.

SOURCE : Digikar

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