Home automation system Archos Smart Home: solution for Android-based tablet and Bluetooth LE sensors

Home automation system Archos Smart Home: solution for Android-based tablet and Bluetooth LE sensors

On the market today, there are several standards and protocols that can be used in the organization of home automation system. They have a variety of technical features and characteristics, which leads to the need to take into account the requirements of the system when selecting a solution. Even if we restrict our popular wireless options and, in this case, the set is large enough. You can count no less than five different technologies: Bluetooth LE, EnOcean, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and ZigBee. Selection affects the range, power consumption capacity, performance and other characteristics of the final solutions. However, there are also products with simultaneous support for multiple protocols. One of the newcomers in this segment – Bluetooth LE. We met him in the test multicolor controlled lamps.

The company Archos is known today in the domestic market as a manufacturer of smartphones and tablets. However, in the arsenal of the manufacturer, there are other solutions of the categories wearables and smart house. A year ago, at the Mobile World Congress 2014 , we paid attention to the home automation system Archos Smart Home. She attracted the attention of compact sensors and using a special version of the tablet with Android as the control center.Today, we finally managed to get acquainted with this product line in our laboratory.

Scope of delivery

Testing was given a starter kit automation system. It comes in a relatively small cardboard box that even a little confused on the basis of the description of the set. Judging by its design, the manufacturer expects sales through retailers and retailers. In particular, the package provides photos of the device and possible scenarios of use. There is also a description supplied and technical requirements.

Home automation system Archos Smart Home: solution for Android-based tablet and Bluetooth LE sensors

The set consists of a base station power supply (5V 2A) for her with interchangeable nozzles for different standards sockets, cable Micro-USB, two cameras, two temperature sensors and humidity sensors of the two opening doors or windows, multi-language instruction (in Russian it is present) and a leaflet describing the conditions of warranty service. Note that all this is packed with high quality and, in general, makes an excellent first impression.

There is only one observation in the delivery. Since all wireless devices and compact enough, they are fixed using double-sided adhesive tape, which does not imply reuse. It would be nice to see in a box set of spare labels in case you need to move the sensor to a new location.

Devices

The central element of the Archos Smart Home is the eponymous tablet. However, it should be noted that the tablet to call it is not entirely true since it is rather steady, and not a mobile device. Size is about 19 × 13 × 6 cm, weighs less than a pound. The body is made of white and black plastic.

On the front panel, we see a screen with a diagonal 7 “. Above it is the camera windows and light sensor. At the top end is set large power button and lock. The frame is wide enough, but the proportions are chosen well. Hardware buttons for volume control device does not have.

On the right side, there is a charge LED and microphone hole. The quality and sensitivity of the latter quite good. But the indicator may seem too bright if you install the unit on the left nightstand.

The main speaker is located on a ledge behind the unusual shape, the pedestal. Its size and power make it possible to talk about a good transfer of low frequencies, to listen to your music and soundtracks to movies as well as comfortable communicating in conferencing programs under condition of the device on the table next to the user.

Also here is the entrance to the power supply port Micro-USB, memory card slot microSDHC and 3.5 mm jack for headphones. The quality of the sound output to a very low because of the constantly audible noise. Note that the tablet uses with its own power supply connector.

Home automation system Archos Smart Home: solution for Android-based tablet and Bluetooth LE sensors

For secure retention on a flat surface, there are three rubber feet. Between them lies the reset button hole. In form and method used to set the model most similar to the once popular photo frames. In general, the design can be evaluated positively. An observation may be unless the only option to install the device. In some cases, it would be more convenient to hang it on the wall.Especially that the system supports the management of mobile devices.

The controller is based on dual-core platform Rockchip RK3168 processor cores with a frequency of 1.2 GHz. It has 1 GB of RAM and 4 GB of flash memory, which can be expanded by setting memory cards up to 64 GB. After all updates at the time of testing were about 2.5 GB of free space on the internal disk.

The display device has a diagonal of 7 “and a resolution of 1024 × 600 pixels. Unfortunately, he does not use the IPS or other modern technologies. However, for basic scenarios using the device it may not be very significant. The maximum brightness of 320 lumens, which is usually enough for the home environment. The touch screen is capable of processing up to five simultaneous touches. Sensitivity had chosen well, however, slide your finger across the screen to plastic is not very good.

Home automation system Archos Smart Home: solution for Android-based tablet and Bluetooth LE sensors

The front camera has a 5 megapixel matrix and probably auto focus, it can be used with conventional applications Android (for example, for videobscheniya), as well as integrated into the automation system. Photos from it are obtained with a resolution of 1600 × 1200, and videos – ten seconds in 640 × 480 × 10fps with sound. Note the presence of temperature and humidity sensors in the device. This allows for monitoring of another room without any additional devices.

Wireless communication capabilities include Wi-Fi standard, 802.11n, operating in the 2.4 GHz band with a maximum connection speed of 65 Mbit / s, and Bluetooth (including BLE). The documentation indicates that the device supports Wireless Display, compatible receiver will have to look for it.

Micro-USB port allows data to the internal memory of the tablet from your computer and connects an external device technology USB OTG (for example, hard disks). In the tablet has built LiPol battery of unknown capacity.

As the system software supports Android 4.2.2. Of additional programs, except for the basic tools for working with the Smart Home, preset controller Archos Remote, players Archos Archos Music and Video, DLNA-Server, System Monitor utility and a file manager with network support. The manufacturer specifies the use of popular multimediaformatami, though of course for this device is not an important characteristic.

The device can operate as a normal tablet with Android, but due to its size, relatively slower platforms and low-resolution screen, it is unlikely that this scenario will be in demand. In particular, here we can talk about reading news, communicating via Skype, listening to music and Internet radio, watching videos.

Home automation system Archos Smart Home: solution for Android-based tablet and Bluetooth LE sensors

All peripherals are working exclusively with the controller via a wireless interface Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth Smart). This allows you to use their power for the battery, not the network sources. This protocol uses the recently tested LED RGB-lamp . It allows you to work at distances of tens of meters (for devices of the system stated in the range of 20 meters indoors), optimized for low power consumption and is not compatible with standard Bluetooth. Its drawback for this system is the need direct communication with each device controller. Ability to work through repeaters are not provided. This directly affects the maximum coverage of the installed system automation. The second feature of the interface – a relatively low speed of information exchange.In particular, used in the system camera is not able to work with “live” picture for this very reason.

Consideration of wireless sensors start at the first element starter kit – a pair of compact cameras Mini Cam. The most interesting feature is its easy installation in any location without the use of wires and tools.

The camera body is a sphere with a diameter of about 40 mm, made of white matte plastic and chrome-plated metal. Inside the hidden power supply – three batteries CR2450. Hours from one set to the manufacturer specifies the number of shots – from 600 to 1000. In addition to the lens, the camera can be seen pairing button and microphone hole. After power is also found embedded in the indicator housing.

The camera uses a matrix format, VGA, and the lens has an angle of 110 °. Of course we should not expect this model of high quality in the absence of sufficient lighting. But in the daytime indoors results are good, of course if you are not spoiled videos and photos of today’s smartphones. The manufacturer specifies that the device is not intended for continuous recording.Possible actions include myself recording images (640 × 480 pixels) and a ten second video (640 × 480 × 10fps, no sound). The audit showed activation delay action when the signal from the motion sensor is very small. However, we must bear in mind that direct transfer of data to the controller is still not very fast and can take a minute or more.

To set the camera uses a special form a complete stand. Or it can simply place on a horizontal surface or mounted using double-sided adhesive tape anywhere. Built strong magnets securely hold the camera and the shape of the sphere makes it easy to choose the desired orientation.

Home automation system Archos Smart Home: solution for Android-based tablet and Bluetooth LE sensors

Control of temperature and humidity is one of the most popular systems for automating tasks. In this system also provides the use of appropriate sensors included in the starter kit.

Device as cameras, have a very small size – not more than 35 × 35 × 14 mm. Sensor weight does not exceed 20 Corpus made of matte plastic ivory. Its two halves are held together by going on a path with a rubber element.

Hiding inside the battery CR2430. At one end is a button interface to controllers. On the front side there is an indicator and a slot for air access to the sensors.

The manufacturer claims the ability to measure temperature from -10 to +50 degrees with an accuracy of 0.3 degrees and the humidity from 0 to 100% with an accuracy of 1%.

The last pair of devices starter kit – universal motion sensors. They use just two technologies – reed switch responsive to the removal of mating with a magnet, and an accelerometer.

The housing is similar to the temperature sensor and has a button interface and display, powered by the battery pack as CR2430. An additional element is packaged in a small plastic magnet. He is strong enough, and he works at a distance of about one and a half centimeters.

Home automation system Archos Smart Home: solution for Android-based tablet and Bluetooth LE sensors

Interestingly, the body of all sensors are water resistant, so it can try to install them on the street.

Besides the above-described composition of the starter kit, a user may further acquire and other sensors and devices. Infrared motion detector has a similar structure and chamber works at distances of up to ten meters. Controlled socket allows you to turn on and off appliances with consumption up to 12 A (according to other sources – up to 16 A), and is able to measure their consumption. Judging by the photos, it is a fairly compact device. Also, in some places mentioned the use of sirens, but no information about it we did not find the manufacturer’s website. Another option is to use the system expansion radio controlled in the range of 433 MHz devices (according to the documentation, it is mostly about the controlled outlets, as well as blinds). Restrictions on the number of this type of equipment on the system. With a list of recommended suppliers can be found on the website.

Installation and Setup

Getting started with a set of automation is recommended to start with the battery plate. However, it can operate on AC power, so this step can and miss. After switching on the controller must pass the familiar devices with Android steps – choose the language (Russian is present in the list) to connect to a wireless network, specify the account Google. At this stage, the low resolution of the screen causes some difficulties, because the place and the band takes to the virtual buttons. Next we see the icon in the notification bar and load the update firmware.

The main work program is a utility Archos Smart Home. It interacts with the system service Smart Home Gateway, which is used, inter alia, to serve remote clients.

The next step is to create rooms in our smart house. Their name and number, you can choose at their discretion. Next you need to connect our sensors to the system. To do this, remove the protective tape from the discharge the battery and follow the instructions on the screen of the controller. In the process displays information about the use of the connecting device. You will need to choose a name and location. If necessary, these data can be further modified.

With a large number of similar sensors can be through the program include them LED for identification. After initialization of the device system prompts to install new firmware in them what we agreed. At this point, the program remembered that she did not mind refreshed on what was spent a couple of minutes. After that we waited for another round of boot firmware on the device. As a result, the main testing began with software version 2.55.

Home automation system Archos Smart Home: solution for Android-based tablet and Bluetooth LE sensors

Besides organizing rooms, adding, editing and placement of sensors, the program provides several settings. On the “Home” you can select the unit of temperature measurement, enable logging, enable sending of photos and videos to the cloud Google Drive. In the “Notifications” set the sound to indicate events, theme emails (using it can be configured to sort messages by different controllers) and specify the email addresses of users.

The remaining paragraphs of section settings are links to video tutorials (in English with Russian subtitles), para diagnostic Bluetooth and a page with information on licenses.

Using

The program interface consists of a management service line from the top, the menu on the left and the main information in the center of the field. System notifications are displayed under the service line. The language is selected based on the localization of the operating system. Russian version generally good, but sometimes mistakes occur. Given the size of the screen, to design tools have a few comments regarding the very small size of some of the interface elements.

The program does not support any options savers, or automatically change the information on the screen that may not be very convenient. However, you can set the system wallpaper. But more convenient option would certainly display summary information or selected sensors from the automation system. In the main field of the screen is visible information with one room.

Look at other possible turning gesture. At the same time fits to six tiles sensors having the same dimensions. The user has the ability to edit their composition and location.

In particular, it is possible to remove some sensors are not required permanently. You can also add on the same information from another room. For example, it may be useful to gather the most popular data in one page. If more than six fields, they are scrolled in the vertical direction.

Touch sensor icon allows you to get more information about it.For cameras, you get access to the gallery of pictures and videos with the possibility of a standard menu for Android “share” and remove, for weather sensors – to chart readings (with a choice of display range from one hour to two months), for the motion sensor / Door – Current Status for the day and the Last day in graphic form (for motion sensors have A Choice of scale). It Also includes the battery and signal strength.

If Necessary, Determine the Exact response time of sensors, you CAN use the window “History”.On the first Page, it Lists All the events occurring in the system, Including the operation of sensors, Data Acquisition from the Cameras, the Loss of connection, launch the programs described below, sending messages.

In the settings you CAN enable the display of log messages from the temperature sensors and Data on the Status of the battery. As the list CAN be very large, you CAN install Filters for the convenience of finding the required Data. The Second Page is USED for quick access to the latest notification. It Provides clear the list Item.

An Important element of the system, Allowing it to Take it to the automation, scripting is the section (in the Terminology of the system – “programs”). Each scenario Consists of Three Elements – the events, Activities and Schedules. The User CAN quickly turn off the work programs.

The first type of system A is Event – A specific time, date and time Specified, at the time of sunrise or sunset, the Loss of Communication with the sensor. There is Also A manual mode and Run the Program. The Second Group of events is Determined by the sensor USED. For the test set is Binary sensors and Door Opening movement (movement), as well as sensors with Digital Indicators (temperature and humidity), Which are USED with Different Conditions, in Particular Equality / Inequality, going Abroad and getting into the range.

The available actions in this version of the software consists of system notifications, send an e-mail (you can choose a theme, text and recipient), enable / disable another script, call the utility tasker, shooting video or still image from the camera . Note That A Single Rule CAN be USED Several events and Activities. Note That the combined effect of “Take A photo and send it by e-mail” in the Current version of the software is not. If such scenario A, you CAN be notified by mail, and the snapshot look at your smartphone through synchronization with Google Drive.

Schedule of the program allows you to use an additional filter for its operation. For example, it is possible to select via only certain days and time range for them.

The Decision Provides for the use of Mobile Devices with Android or iOS as Additional control Terminals. Moreover’s, in addition to monitoring the Current State of the system and Read the Event log, They are Given the Opportunity to edit scripts. To Get Started, you need to install the Mobile device name of the Same Program. Further, there are two Scenarios of use – local connection, and When the main controller and the new device are on the Same LAN, and Remote When you want to work through the Internet. In the first scenario, the client is looking for a controller on the network, and the latter authorizes its request for connection.

Second the need to Get A Special code on the controller of the Sixteen Digits and enter it at the Remote Mobile device. In this mode, the Translation is required ports on the router and, Most likely, the white address on it, But About the Last time the Manufacturer does not Mention. The controller CAN IMPLEMENT ITS own UPnP Protocol, or you manually configure the CAN Rule required. Unfortunately, All Our Attempts to Connect through cell phones with smartphones and tablets to the device have not Been Successful.

Testing has Shown That Within A Small City apartment connection to sensors is quite STABLE. The Maximum certified version – About eight meters in two non-Capital wall. HOWEVER, DURING Installation Should check the signal levels and Adjust the Location of the Devices. In addition , system performance may be affected by other equipment in the 2.4 GHz band, including the usual network Wi-Fi.

Conclusion

The Company Archos, in Our opinion, quite an interesting Offered solution for the Implementation of smart Home Level entry. Archos Smart Home Controller is designed as A “Stationary Plate” running Android and Also the control system CAN be USED in Other Traditional tasks, Including watching the news, e-mail access, multimedia, Skype and so on. HOWEVER, it Should be Noted That the platform he is Relatively Weak, and the screen has low resolution and A is Made by Technology TN. The device Requires A permanent external power supply, but can stretch the time and battery life.

The Basic package includes A compact temperature and humidity sensors, motion sensors and miniature Cameras. Through the use of Bluetooth LE Protocol, They CAN be Powered by batteries and work offline for A Long time. The downside of this solution is the Limited Coverage area, Which CAN SLOW and not Expand Communication with Cameras video. Check the operation of Devices on the 433 MHz we have not had a chance, but if everything works as promised, their use will allow relatively inexpensive to expand the number of tasks and implement useful management scenarios.

Configuring and installing the system is quite simple and convenient documentation, so to cope with the Launch of the work Will not only advanced users. Archos Smart Home Management is Carried out by the controller from the Same Application, as well as Other Mobile Devices. Software Hardly features CAN be Called Exhaustive, But They Look Overall quite good. The Pros solutions Should include the Possibility of drawing up Their own rules and scripts in A graphical form.

Considered Kit is now available in local stores. The Estimated cost at the time of Preparation of this article WAS 20,000 Rubles. The Hardware component is no substantive comments, But the Success of the Product Will depend on the availability of sensors and actuators Additional, as well as software development management system.

Home automation system Archos Smart Home: solution for Android-based tablet and Bluetooth LE sensors updated: March 29, 2015 author: John Malkovich