I’m about to move house and one of the things I want to do is invest in some serious home automation. Not just remote switching – that’s easy. I want real automation where I can press a button or say a command like “Goodnight” and all the lights tun off and curtains close. The trouble is systems like this, while available, have been quite expensive and tricky to install in older properties. And renters are pretty much left out of many home automation options. But the B-One Hub wants to change that. It’s a multi-radio device that acts as a universal translator that can deal with thousands of different end-point devices.
The B.One Hub is nicknamed “the skateboard” and it’s easy to see how that moniker came to be. It’s quite small, about 20cm long and 12cm or so wide. It’s powered with an AC adaptor but also has battery backup.
It’s secret is that is handles a bunch of different comms protocols including Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth. WiFi, GSM and Infrared. That means you aren’t locked into any one sensor technology. So, you can use Amazon’s Alexa, a Google Nest and other controllers. Essentially, if they communicate wirelessly, even over IR which means your TV can be controlled as well, then the B-One Hub can potentially be used to automate.There are eight IR transmitter/receivers in the hub and the shape means it bounces that IR over a wide area.
Controlling devices, either one at a time, or collectively through actions that control several devices together, is easy either through an app or using an Alexa. Its pretty nifty saying “good morning” to your house and the curtains and blinds open (once you install some motors), and listen to the coffee brewer start to burble away. There’s even chatbot support so you can use a chat client to talk to your house.
All the comms are encrypted with AES-256.
Home automation systems can cost lots of money. It’s pretty easy to spend $20,000 on a traditional, wired system.
The B-One Hub, on its own, costs $650 but there’s a $1250 starter bundle available that includes the B-One Hub, two motion sensors and two smart sensors (that can detect when a door is open for example). That starter kit is a DIY set that uses double sided tape to attach sensors making it a good option for renters.
A full installation, that includes end-point control for about 30 devices costs about $5,000, including the use of a qualified electrician to replace old light switches, according to B-One Hub’s ANZ CEO Anup Raghavan.