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  • M-Elec Introduce ‘Stitchy’ HomeKit Range

    Australian-based M-Elec have been around since 2006, and have been supplying products like dimmable downlights, light strips and other lighting products since this time, culminating in a Good Design Award in 2015. Now the company are moving into the Smart Home realm with their 'Stitchy' line of products. This lineup initially centres around their Stitchy Switch; a relay controller, that sits inside the recess behind your wall switches to give regular light switches smart functionality. As with many smart home devices these days, it promises compatibility with the big three providers – Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit. In addition to the 'stitchy' relay, the company are working on a dimmer version, in addition to one-channel and five-channel strip controllers. What's interesting about all of these products is that they use ZigBee for their method of communication but unlike companies like Aqara, for example, don’t provide their own hub, instead relying on the Philips Hue Bridge as the central hub. In fact, the company even offer starter packs that include a couple of relays in addition to the Hue Bridge, with a Hue motion sensor, also added in the B and C starter packs. This, in essence, would make them akin to 'Friends of Hue' products, although the company don't describe them as such. The company also point out that there's no accompanying app required for their products, which would probably indicate the Hue app is the preferred initial app for control, which would then expose them to HomeKit thereafter. The company are also working on more interesting products, including a neutral-free version of their module, a fan controller, plate dimmer, in addition to garage and blind controllers. You can check out the video below to learn about more of these forthcoming devices

  • Aqara and Opple Release New Smart Switches

    A few months back Aqara held a presentation showing off a series of new products, including the long-awaited M2 Hub. The company also announced a collaboration with Chinese lighting specialists Opple, that would bring a series of ceiling lights to the Aqara ecosystem, which we reported on just the other day, but they also revealed a series of light switches, also by Opple. These light switches are all HomeKit compatible too! As with the aforementioned Opple ceiling lights, these switches use ZigBee 3.0 for communication, so will, therefore, need the Aqara hub to both to communicate with the things that they control, as well as get them exposed to HomeKit. The Opple switches come in three configurations, with a double switch, a four-button switch, and a six-button switch. What differentiates these switches from the Aqara rocker switches already on the market is that, in comparison to the wireless versions, these switches, which are also wireless, also come with a wall plate that allows the switches to detach from the wall, allowing them to essentially act as remote controls. This is nothing new, of course, as this type of functionality has been deployed for years in the form of the Philips Hue Dimmer Switch. The fact that you have a choice of three different switches does, however, make them more appealing than the Hue version. As these switches are detachable, they do require a battery, which in the case of these switches, is a standard CR2032 coin battery. As they’re ostensibly designed for China, the size is 86 x 86mm, with a 15mm depth, and although there’s no requirement for wiring, the backplate is designed to sit in a recess where this size of switch would normally be placed. What also makes the six-button switch particularly useful is that you can program each button to control not only the power to a smart colour bulb, but you have the extra buttons to control the colour, brightness and colour temperature, all from one device. As these are also compatible with Apple HomeKit, each switch is programmable with multiple types of presses, so you have the standard ‘single press’, ‘double press’ and ‘long press’, taking the six-button switch to ridiculously high levels of functionality – assuming you can remember each function for each button… The company does go on to state that currently these switches are not compatible with the Mi Home app, and will at present only work with the Aqara app, although we’re almost certain they will be Mi Home compatible soon. As expected, these switches have initially been launched in China, although hopefully, they’ll be available to international consumers at a date in the near future.

  • Aqara US Switches Now Listed on US Site

    After initially uncovering the existence of the Aqara US Switch in testing back in April, and reporting only last week the light switch appearing as an addable device in the Aqara app (US Server) after an update, Aqara has made it official, with the light switch listed on their US website. As expected, the new switches, that come in single and double button configurations, require the Aqara hub in order to be added to your smart home and to be exposed to HomeKit. As these are designed for the US market, they are also exposed to Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, which was a part of the last app update that first revealed these switches. As with any HomeKit compatible light switch, you can control the device via the apps, via voice control, and set timers & automations. What may be of interest to some though is that fact that the new Aqara switches do not require a neutral wire, with many homes in the US still lacking a neutral wire for their lighting, so this could be seen as an alternative to the Lutron smart system which appears to be the only other HomeKit compatible light switch manufacturer that offers this option. There will possibly be a ‘neutral wire’ version to follow. Here are some basic specs; Single Rocker – WS-USC01 | Double Rocker – WS-USC02Material – PCOperating temperature – 0~40ºC | 32~104ºFMax. load – 600w/way (incandescent) | 200w/way (CFL/LED) | 1/4HP motorInput – 120v AC @ 60HzDimensions – 120 x 73 x 36.5mm | 4.72 x 2.91 x 1.44in)Wireless protocol – ZigBee 3.0Colour – WhiteOperating humidity – 0~95% RH, non-condensing Currently the switch is not available to buy but is listed as coming soon to amazon.com, so hopefully, this switch will be available before the end of the year. There are no details on price yet, however.

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  • Explore More | IFREEQ Smart Home

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