A few days ago Telstra announced their new smart home platform. We were unable to attend the launch, and Telstra isn’t exactly releasing too many details. Today I attended the first ever Australian Technology & Gadget Expo at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre (Jeff’s Shed) and grilled the Telstra smart home staff regarding their foray into the IoT.
Telstra’s smart home aims to encompass “smart security, automation, energy, and more”. Through it Telstra hope to bring the IoT to Australians in a simple, easy-to-use package. Launching “later this year” running on Telstra’s own software using the Zigbee wireless protocol, the 9 devices are connected to the internet through a single hub that can be either ethernet or wifi connected (when wifi enabled the hub also acts as a wifi extended.)
Using an app from your smart device – iOS and Android apps will be launching simultaneously – you can then control any, or all of the 9 devices launching on the Telstra Smart Home platform. The app, which I had a quick preview of, is a very simple app that unfortunately did not look like it was focused on material design, more following the UI design language of most iOS apps (even though I saw it running on an Android phone). The app has tabs for controlling each device and then gives you information about each device (eg. how much power it is pulling etc), a tab for automation/rules (they’re talking about IFTTT partnerships), and also a history tab. The app looks very easy to use and should appeal to Joe and Jill Public.
There is a smart light globe, the Sengled Smart Lighting, which can obviously be switched off and on using the Telstra Smart Home app. The globe can also be set to turn on at a set time each night or at random times throughout the night (eg. while away on holidays).
There is a Zen Thermostat which obviously can be set to turn on or off to whatever temperature you decide on the app. It can also be set to turn on automatically at a time each day, or even, integrating one device to another, when a sensor detects movement it can be set to turn the thermostat on- eg. if it detects movement in your corridor at 6am it can turn on the thermostat. It cannot learn your patterns such as the Nest thermostat available in the States though.
The doorbell associated with the Telstra smart phone is the Skybell HD Doorbell which allows you to answer the doorbell from your smartphone. Using the app you can see, hear and speak to the visitor ringing the doorbell, whether you are home or not. This feature is only under development and will not be available at first release later this year.
There is a Lockwood smart door lock allows you to lock or unlock your door using either a pin code or the app itself. It also has a key override for those times you forget the PIN AND lose your phone.
Another notable device includes a smart power plug that is not only a wifi extender but also can be set, using the Telstra Smart Home app, to turn off and on at certain times.
Alongside all these there is indoor and outdoor cameras, door/windows sensors, and a wide and a narrow beam motion sensor. All in all the devices seem to be nothing revolutionary but the congregating of the control of them all into a single app is a smart move by Telstra.
At this stage these are the only devices that will work in the Telstra Smart Home app. While the system runs on the Zigbee protocol it does not mean you can just add your own Zigbee compatible device to it. Only Telstra-certified Zigbee devices will be allowed to be added in. Telstra said that they are looking at adding many more devices in the new few years and many are undergoing testing/certification. Telstra are currently in talks with Amazon regarding integration of the Amazon Echo into the system if/when Amazon release it here but until Amazon do that is just pie in the sky. No comment was forthcoming on the Google Home device that has all us Ausdroiders frothing at the mouth to get our hands on.
After speaking to the Telstra representative it is clear that you do not need to have a Telstra contract, nor Telstra internet for this to work in your house, although I find it hard to believe that there will not be some form of ongoing monthly fee to have this product installed in your home. There is no word on pricing at this stage.
Two Smart Home packages will be available at launch:
- The ‘Watch and Monitor’ option will give customers peace of mind by allowing them to keep an eye on things when they’re away from home with motion sensors and a camera that can be set up to send instant alerts to their device.
- The ‘Automation and Energy’ option comes with smart power plugs and motion sensors, helping customers set up tailored energy solutions for their home.
While this is the first real attempt to bring an IoT automation to Australia I dare say it won’t be the last. Anyone else out there hoping to bring something like this into their homes? How many out there already have some of these devices or similar?