Security should be a top priority in home automation, certainly when allowing for remote access! Thinka provides secure remote access for KNX with an integrated KNX IP Gateway.
Your smart home needs to be convenient, versatile, and reliable. It also needs to be secure.
Yes, this means maintaining the security of your actual home and devices, but also your data privacy. A number of high-profile security breaches in the smart-home and IoT (Internet of Things) sphere in recent years have made security one of the top ‘must-haves’ for any smart automated home.
In one terrifying example, researchers at Ben-Gurion University revealed that it was possible to easily hack a small smart home accessory (like a light bulb) and, using this, were able to turn off the security alarm for a home. They were able to do this by making the system think the owner was home, just by accessing the lightbulb and toggling the bulb settings to ‘at home.’ The researchers tested 16 randomly-selected devices and were able to hack all of them by a methodical process of reverse-engineering.
Shockingly, although all devices were password-protected by the manufacturer, the easiest used ‘1234’ as the password, whereas a high-end baby monitor took just 2 days to crack.
It is not only about being able to prevent hackers from accessing your home, what about listening in into your private conversations. In 2019 Google and Amazon and Google were under attack when it became known that their Alexa and Google Home Voice Assistants were recording private conversations and that thousands of their employees had access to listen in.
Back to home security; a frightful research in the Netherlands discovered that 17,444 buildings with KNX systems were accessible to hackers. Although KNX systems are innately secure by design, this researcher was able to exploit weakly-protected IP gateways to gain access to the KNX system and remote control every single feature within it. We’ll explore how this happens later on, but it is clear that security should be high on our list of priorities. The security considerations will vary from system to system, but whatever home automation system you choose, security needs to be a top consideration, and all aspects of the system need to be considered.
So, just how safe is your KNX home? This will depend a lot on which system you use and just how well it is set up.
Each system will only be as secure as its weakest link, so while a wired KNX system has security built into its ‘DNA’, this can be undermined by an improperly-installed IP gateway which is inadequately secured. This can happen, for example, when your integrator decides to install an IP gateway and leave it in place to provide ‘backdoor’ access (to allow remote assistance and for configuring networks remotely). KNX IP gateways can be secure, but they need to be properly configured for this by an expert.
For a wireless system (which uses radio frequency (RF), Bluetooth, or WiFi signals to communicate between devices), it is possible for a weakly-secured device (like a lightbulb) to be hijacked, and the entire system can be compromised this way. It takes a little effort from the hacker, but the fact that the signals are flying around in the air (and not contained safely in wires) means it is inherently less secure. One factor in the hack ability of many wireless devices is the fact that these sit in a lower price category. So there are loads of generic ‘compatible’ devices being churned out with little regard to security or long-term product support.
It isn’t all about the security of your home, or worrying about being burgled. Another big concern is data privacy; what happens to the data stored about you, or your home, and how are the automations processed? Where is the video feed for your cameras stored? Is it secure? These are serious questions to consider.
As we have seen, if a device isn’t secure enough, it could be hacked. This could enable it to be controlled by an unauthorised person, and potentially allow someone to unlock your doors, access your camera feeds, or worse. Big-brand smart home device manufacturers are very aware of these concerns, and you should expect a high level of security from approved devices. Apple, for example, has a rigorous certification program, meaning any device that is certified for its HomeKit system is fitted with a special Apple authentication chip which provides end-to-end encryption.
There is a big difference, however, between approved, ‘Certified’ devices and ‘Compatible’ devices. Many ‘compatible’ devices are made by ‘pop-up’ tech companies and ‘kickstarter’ brands that do not have the expertise, resources or stamina to see a certification process like that of Apple HomeKit through, and provide adequate security support for their products. Also, who knows how long the company will be around for? So, this is a pretty convincing argument for sticking to official or fully-certified devices.
Usually each independent smart accessory will usually come with its own app, which has all the vulnerabilities of any piece of software (as well as being a pain in the ass to figure out which app is for what device). The threat here really is twofold: malicious control, and violation of data privacy. This can depend also on how the app works; it may rely on cloud processing and storage to perform tasks, in which case this needs to be authenticated, secure and encrypted. Could the remote servers be hacked? Would your information be securely encrypted? This may again depend on the reliability of the company who makes the device/app. Yet another reason to go for big, established brands that can afford a good security team.
Both Google and Amazon require smart home users to have a registered account, and all information about their home system is stored on remote servers, (along with all the automation settings). Although the servers of Google and Amazon themselves are adequately secured, there is still the possibility of information being intercepted as it travels between your home network and their servers. And even if you trust these companies to secure your data privacy, you should have the right to choose.
As we have seen, even a KNX installation might be vulnerable if equipped with an unsecured IP gateway; this presents the real possibility of a ‘bad actor’ gaining access to your automation settings (or controlling the entire system). In theory, this could allow someone to see what devices are in your home, figure out details about your home itself (how many rooms it has, if children live there etc.), and to see what automation settings or scenes you have already made.
Collectively, this provides a window into your life: where you live, what’s in your house, when you are at home and when you are NOT at home.
Security is a balance between safety, and being able to enjoy life and live it to the full. So, you are the one to choose a security level that suits you and your lifestyle.
Our 5 tips to take along for securing your smart home:
Ensure the smart products you bring into your home are certified products, and not products that are ‘compatible with’. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. The lowest bidders are not necessarily the best choice, certainly not when it comes to securing what is most important to you; your family, privacy and home.
Think through what home automation standard you want to build your smart home upon. Established standards like Z-Wave (Wireless) or KNX (Wired) have developed security protocols like Z-Wave S2 or KNX Secure, ensuring data encryption and device authentication.
In case you have smart products in your home that depend on cloud computing/processing, like Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant, your private data will travel the internet. Of course you have to make sure to have your account and network password protected, and make use of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) where possible. Check your smart home solutions and devices on if/how they encrypt your data, before it is exposed to the cloud.
The virtues of wireless home automation are quite clear; you can start small, and grow into home automation by expanding the number of smart devices gradually; you can use it in your existing environment with no need to renovate the house. In case you are kitting out your entire home with home automation, you want to consider wired home automation systems, like KNX. KNX systems are innately secure because they are hard-wired and effectively ‘air-gapped’ from the outside world, with your total home automation running locally. Next to that KNX has developed its own security standard KNX Secure
Even with a wired locally run home automation system like KNX, you do want to be able to remote control your KNX home, make use of location based automations (geofencing). With HomeKit coupled to a KNX system, you have the best of both worlds; as all critical information stays within the home, on the Apple Hub, even when installing remote control or geofencing via your iPhone. What little information that is sent out (or stored) is encrypted and anonymised. Not even Apple will know whose information it is, and it is only information that relates to the functionality.
The HomeKit system has additional security benefits as the HomeKit Certification requires smart home products to meet Apple’s high standards, and integrate a MFI chip for authentication and end-to-end encryption of data.
Once your information leaves the home, there is no guarantee how it might be intercepted, retained, or handled. This can be avoided by using a more secure system like Apple’s HomeKit.
Why would we want to compromise a secure KNX system by offering installers remote access to KNX?
Well, home automation is all about convenience. So how convenient is it to need to wait around all day for a system integrator to come and fix or make other changes to your KNX system? For that matter, how convenient is it for the integrator – who needs to drive around the country to make home visits?
Not very convenient at all - especially when it could be diagnosed and fixed from the comfort of their own office!!! That would save money and time for you, and help your system integrator to assist more clients during the working day. For this reason, KNX system integrators like to offer remote assistance for their clients. It benefits everyone, and keeps costs low. Therefore, a KNX-IP gateway is installed.
A KNX installer needs a KNX-IP gateway for a couple of key tasks. During the configuration, all devices are added to the project file for the home using an ETS tool. The system installation and configuration is mostly done on-site, making use of a KNX IP Gateway. But in the aftermath of installation and configuration, adaptations and finetuning are needed. In these cases the IP gateway becomes useful again, as your installer can perform a remote diagnostic on the system and see if a home visit is necessary. If the problem doesn’t require a home visit, or can be fixed remotely, even better! For this reason, integrators leave the KNX-IP gateway in place with backdoor access, for them to remotely diagnose problems (and potentially fix them too). So your installer will need a separate KNX IP Gateway when setting up or maintaining your KNX smart home.
But there is a smarter alternative to this.
Thinka KNX PRO has a built in KNX IP gateway for the KNX system, and offers remote access to KNX via ETS over VPN.
The standard Thinka HomeKit for KNX already makes it possible to change your KNX home into a truly smart home, with all the 21st century smart home automation that HomeKit has to offer. With our standard KNX HomeKit Bridge, a homeowner can take control of her KNX system via HomeKit, without the need to call a system integrator for setting up scenes or automations like geofencing. Also with Thinka KNX connected to a KNX system, HomeKit certified products like Philips Hue and Sonos can safely be connected to the KNX system.
And, now, with the same product, you can also provide your installer KNX remote access in a secure way! Launching April 15 2021, Thinka KNX PRO will be combining the Thinka KNX with a KNX IP Gateway and a VPN connection for secure remote access via ETS to the KNX system of your customer. Remote ETS programming or troubleshooting, and remote access to the KNX system itself is now possible in a secure way.
All the convenience, without sacrificing security or data privacy.
Secure remote access to KNX for your integrator, and all the advantages for you as a homeowner to being able to bridge a KNX system to Apple’s HomeKit.
Read more about the different levels of Secure Remote Control to KNX Thinka has to offer.
Thinka KNX PRO is available for sale as of 15 April1, 2021.
Thinka launched their first product, Thinka HomeKit for KNX - Bridge in 2016. Thinka KNX connects KNX building and home automation systems, with Apple HomeKit and other market leading Home Assistants. Today, April 15, 2021, we launch Thinka KNX PRO; a HomeKit for KNX Bridge with a built-in IP Gateway and Secure Remote Access to the local Thinka and KNX system.
Every system integrator will explain just how important remote access is to the KNX system, to ensure the expected service levels of building- or home owners. Remote Access offers the possibility to quickly react on outings or adaptations needed, without bothering the customer unnecessary. This is why the system integrator usually leaves the IP Gateway, which is needed for first time setup and configuration, in place to provide a “backdoor” access.
"This backdoor often undermines the security of the, otherwise very secure KNX system", according to Michael Franken, founder and CEO of Thinka
Thinka KNX PRO provides a built-in KNX IP Gateway, and a safe entrance over VPN for secure remote access. By doing so, Thinka KNX PRO offers the convenience of remote access without giving in on security and privacy standards.
Thinka connects KNX Buildings and Home Automation systems with the user experience that today’s consumers have come to expect. Thinka’s choice is the iPhone/iPad with its integrated Home App as KNX Control & Visualisation medium, enabling all advanced home automation functionalities HomeKit has to offer, like scene setting, family sharing, geofencing, adaptive lighting and voice control.
Thinka KNX is the brain that sits in your smart home. An intuitive brain that makes life easy, or at least makes it look easy. This brain understands all the complexity of protocols and devices, monitors the state of your KNX home system and presents all the various options as a select and tasteful menu. She can easily read all KNX configurations, translating this to the Home App on your iPhone or iPad. Thinka is equipped with a powerful processor, so she is not depending on the cloud for computing power.
Thinka is an Amsterdam-based Smart Home company. Started in 2016 with launching their first product Thinka KNX, Thinka focuses on IoT and domotics technology. Allowing homeowners to interact with their home in a very user friendly manner, their aim is to build products that make life easier and more fun, hiding the complexity of home automation, security and protocols. Thinka believes that interaction with your home should be similar to driving your car; smart, safe, and comfortable. www.thinka.eu
In order for you to make your building or home automation system smart, you need smart home add-on's. A popular one is Gira X1. We love Gira for its quality products, but are they up to standard yet when it comes to making a KNX home, a smart home?
Every major electronics brand has jumped on the smart home bandwagon, or at least so they say.
At Thinka we distinguish smart home versus home automation. Not because we are language puritans (we tend to swop these terms back and forth ourselves as well). To understand the value of a real smart home, it is good to get the difference between home automation and smart home.
Building- and/or home automation have been around for years.
Take KNX as an example. Last year, October 2020, KNX celebrated her 30th anniversary. Yes, you read this correctly. In 30 years the KNX standard has developed herself into a market leading home/building automation standard. With a supporting association that does not only develop the standard further but keeps developing the market outreach as well. At this moment around 500 manufacturers offer over 3000 different KNX products and 90.000 trained system integrators ready to execute yet another KNX building or home.
KNX is great in itself, it is reliable, durable, secure and extensive. But KNX is not smart. You can not control it from your phone, you can not access it away from your home. It is very hard to create your own scenes without the support of a system integrator, who needs to program the scenes in ETS. And it does not have any automations. It just does not know when the sun goes down to close your curtains. And so much more that is not possible.
KNX is developed to ensure for devices to execute on a number of commands and to operate together. The commands and operation layout is programmed by a system integrator, scenes are baked into the system, and not easily changeable.
The way to operate the automated home started off via switches and is now mostly done via a combination of switches and touchscreens. And of course via mobile Apps as well.
You don’t need a lot of imagination, to envision a sales manager of a KNX manufacturer calling out to the engineering department “We need an App”. So, most KNX manufacturers have built native Apps to do what the switches and touchscreens do.
At Thinka, we made an App as well, only to pair Thinka KNX with HomeKit. We did not make an App to visualise and control the KNX system itself. We decided to use the Apple Home App for that purpose, which is already standard available on every iPhone or iPad. So why did we not build our own App? Because we do not have the slightest belief, we can outsmart the Apple user experience designers that have been trained in doing one thing extremely well: making simple and intuitive user interfaces. Like the Apple Home App to control your home.
Having an App does not make your home smart, in most cases it is just a nicer switch, a remote control with touch buttons. It is the software applications that make the difference.
They make it possible for your KNX system to connect to voice control of Amazon Alexa, they make the connection to your Sonos Sound system.
They make it possible to connect to your home remotely.
They make automations possible, like Geofencing, that triggers a device to operate based on your location. Or like Adaptive Lighting, with which the color temperature of your lights automatically switches with the time of day and the environmental light.
Gira X1 offers Sonos integration to your KNX server and an app to control your KNX system together with Sonos.
When combined with the Gira S1, the Gira X1 offers you more; integration of Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant and secure remote control of your home. You can use the Gira X1 app on your phone and tablet. Or use it on a Gira G1 tablet.
Like the Gira X1 /S1 combination, Thinka KNX offers the connection to Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Sonos. Thinka KNX advises the use of the Apple Home App for visualisation and (remote) control, but if you like Android better, then use Google Home App instead.
The big difference between Thinka KNX and the combination Gira X1/S1, apart from the price tag, is that Thinka KNX offers you also the integration with HomeKit, truly opening up smart home possibilities, like scene setting, automations, family sharing, remote control, geofencing, adaptive lighting. Next to that you automatically have access to all the products that are HomeKit certified, opening up a wealth of additional devices to your KNX system.
Of course we will keep making sure our Thinka KNX portfolio works seamlessly with Gira KNX, like it does today.
Click here to find our comparison of Gira X1. Gira S1 and Thinka KNX
This German family did it. They have build their own smart home from the ground up. And more importantly for all of us, they have been logging all experiences along the way on their blog Smarthomebau.de. A wealth of learnings, tips & tricks.
Read about the choices they have made and the reasoning behind, Their struggles as well as their successes. Read how they have tried our Voice Control via Amazon Alexa with our Thinka KNX.
Thinka and Alexa are the two new roommates of the family that lives in this Amsterdam mansion. Thinka is a Dutch product that bridges the gap between homeowners and their often complicated home automation. It makes it possible to control all devices in the house with your voice.
One of the systems which Thinka connects to is Alexa, the Amazon Echo Voice Assistant. Alexa whispers the residents' spoken wishes to Thinka. Together they ensure that the house does what the residents want and answers all their questions.
Just like the new digi housemates, the residents of this house in the heart of Amsterdam are an interesting couple. We're talking about Gillian Tan's CEO of Booking.com and Bond Chan, lead investor at hotel chain Zoku. Their mansion at the Vondelpark, which they live in with their three children, was already equipped with a KNX home automation system in 2008. All lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, sun blinds and the door intercom are integrated in it. Until now, they operated this via a touchscreen in the kitchen and smart probes in the various rooms. The enterprising couple were in the front row when Thinka saw the light. Partly because of personal interest in the latest technologies, partly also because of business interest in the possibilities that these offer for, for example, the hotel room experience. They were eager to experience what operating the installations with your voice would add to their living pleasure.
Thinka has only been in use for a few months, but Gillian and Bond are already making good use of it, in addition to the other ways they can operate their equipment and installation. For the time being they still have to speak to Alexa in English, but if it is up to Amazon that will soon be possible in other languages as well.
For the kids, there's nothing more fun than just having to say "Alexa, turn on Cinema" to let the smart TV play their favorite movie. For the parents it is nice to be assured with a simple "Good night" that all lights in the house go out and the door is locked. “When the alarm goes off, all we have to do is say" Good morning "to put the house in day mode. The light in the hallway to the bathroom comes on, the heating is on and the espresso machine is preheated when we come downstairs. Of course we don't really need it, but we love handy, smart applications in the house. We love technologies that make life easier and more fun. And Alexa and Thinka give us the icing on the cake of home automation, ”says Bond.
The family quickly became familiar with the operation of the system and is very satisfied with it. “Just shout 'Alexa, I'm home' and Thinka turns on the welcome light and my favorite radio station turns on in the living room. The radius in which Alexa picks up our voice is quite large. And even when the music is on, Alexa takes our orders. It's funny that she keeps talking back. When you give her a command, she always confirms the action with an "Ok". This way you can also be sure that it has been implemented. This is very useful if you request in the bedroom to set everything in the house to night mode. She also answers if you ask, for example, how warm it is in the bedroom. The great thing is that you don't have to teach the Voice Assistant any voices or words. Alexa already has that intelligence. She just wants to know what you call the table lamp and the blinds, so that she understands what you are talking about if you want to do something with it. Thinka makes all of this possible. We can still operate all functions on the touchscreen or using the room controllers.”
For the time being, Gillian and Bond still have to speak to Alexa in English, but in the future they will also be able to do so in Dutch. Experience with the use of Thinka shows that residents do not want to switch every lamp individually, but have chosen 10 scenarios which are operated by Thinka. These scenarios are recorded by Thinka in so-called "Scenes'' such as "Good night", "Cooking" or "Homework". Gillian and Bond do not have to do difficult home automation programming, but can simply manage these scenes with their smartphone.
Michael Franken, founder of Thinka, is closely involved with these forerunners and their experiences. They provide Thinka with important input for the further development of the product. “Installing Thinka is easy. By installing the small box and importing the KNX programming into it, Thinka is ready for use. Furthermore, you must of course link the chosen Voice Assistant to the system. For example, if you use Siri as a Voice Assistant to Thinka, the iPhone of the main occupant can also invite other family members to participate; children, grandparents or a good friend. You can grant or deny them certain rights. For example, you will not want your children to play with the lamps at home when they are bored at school.”
According to Michael Franken, it is very easy for home owners to create scenes themselves with Thinka, to change names of objects (for example: dining table lamp), commands ('bedroom light at 80%') or multiple action scenes ('good morning' or ' I'm awake '). “It's simple and intuitive to operate,” he says. Thinka also offers a solution for hotels. In this way, guests can create the desired atmosphere in their hotel room by simply operating the available functions with their voice. This is one of the possibilities that Gillian and Bond are researching in-house based on their business interest in the world of hospitality.
Thinka is ready, now the Voice Assistants have yet to become multilingual.
Thinka KNX translates spoken words into digital commands at the KNX installation. For example, it becomes possible to initiate multiple actions with a short sentence. Say "romantic" and the KNX installation knows you want to dim the lights slowly, close the curtains and switch on the gas fire. Say "cook" and Thinka will brighten the lights in the kitchen and play your favorite music.
Thinka currently supports Alexa. Alexa can play music on demand, read the news, find you a recipe, and tell you who America's tenth president was. Connecting her to Thinka makes her even smarter. To use Alexa to operate your KNX home, install the “Thinka-skill” and you're done. Alexa knows at once which devices she can operate on the commands that the users want to set for it. Alexa is available in English, German, and Japanese, but Amazon is working on more languages.
Once a writers' fantasy. Now it is really possible. Where Ali Baba got access to the cave of the Forty Thieves with the magic password "Open Sesame", we can now open and close doors by spoken word, turn lights on and off, turn down the heating. It all became possible with the rise of artificial intelligence, a development that is now gaining momentum. By combining artificial intelligence applications such as Siri, Alexa with Thinka, new applications arise of which we cannot yet imagine the ultimate possibilities and impact.
The interview with Gillian Tans and Bond Chan was originally published in Dutch in FWD 17/3/2018
Interested to learn how Thinka is being used in a hotel? See also the use of Thinka KNX in the Pomegranate Wellness Spa Hotel
Although there is plenty of choice in the home-automation field, HomeKit has some strong advantages which make it an attractive option for the long-term. Next to that there have been some big innovations and additions coming to HomeKit for a few years now, and it looks like 2021 might be the year it will all come together.
So, could 2021 be the year for HomeKit to really shine?
Before we get to the innovations let us start with bringing back in mind what makes HomeKit our choice to start with.
The main advantages of HomeKit are:
HomeKit is truly great at setting automations, called scenes, in which your selection of devices are triggered under certain conditions.
These HomeKit scene triggers include:
You can even get Siri to use facial recognition to let you know when a specific person arrives at your door. How cool is that.
Apple's Homekit has taken a different development path to both its major competitors, opting for a 'slow and steady wins the race' kind of approach.
HomeKit has relied a lot less on the development of cheap, generic, 'compatible' products. Instead, it has leaned further into ensuring the core design philosophy is maintained throughout the HomeKit ecosystem.
Apple has worked hard to maintain this. Every device that is certified by Apple contains either an MFi (Made For iPhone/iPad/etc.) authentication chip or a secure software equivalent, and this can only be obtained by working closely with Apple’s technicians through all stages of the design and development phase. For this reason, there are fewer devices that work with HomeKit, but they do work perfectly. Another advantage of this is that Apple has maintained control over system security.
‘Hey Siri, play some jazz in the kitchen, and dim the lights downstairs.’ There may be more limited options, but there is no limit to the functionality of HomeKit, no matter what your plans are. Of course, you pay for the quality and intentional design of HomeKit’s approved accessories, but there is nothing missing in terms of capability. You basically just miss out on cheap knock-offs.
The Home app allows users to control and automate all the HomeKit connected products (Apple names these accessories).
The Home App is standard available on your iPhone, iPad or SmartWatch, and is just as easy to use as you would expect. It has an intuitive design, helpful prompts and suggestions, and is uncluttered. It is still basically a version 1.0, with very little having changed since the launch in 2016. Because it is that good. It was so well-designed from the outset that it did not need any changes (at least not from the UX side of things).
This is a big contrast with both the Google Home app and Amazon Alexa app, both of which are confusing and rather clunky to use.
You can use almost all of the smart home features with just an iPhone, but to really make the most from HomeKit, and especially to control your home remotely or use your automated scenes, you need an Apple hub that stays in the home. There are actually a few different options to choose from, including Apple’s Home Pod, the 4th generation Apple TV’s or an iPad, so if you have one of these you’re all set.
The fact that an Apple hub is needed, will cost a fair bit more than the cheapest Echo or Nest speakers, but the cost of Apple products is not a surprise or a disincentive for most HomeKit users. What they want is the guaranteed quality and ease of use – and they definitely get it with HomeKit.
More over, with making use of an Apple hub, HomeKit guarantees data privacy and security!
Your data privacy is pretty secure too.
Although Siri still processes voice commands using remote Apple hardware, there is actually very little data that is stored about you or your home by Apple. Voice requests are not even identified as being from you, but are instead given a random, device-generated identifier code. Even Apple would not be able to see what you had been asking Siri to do. What little data that does get stored, relates to customisation and the ability to recognise your voice (and know what you are talking about).
Controlling your home remotely is done via end-to-end encryption and authentication between your Apple iPhone outside your home and your Apple hub inside your home.
The core security of Apple devices is one of the chief advantages of the HomeKit system, and a major draw for most home automation users, who tend to be wary of sharing information and security.
Many of them already use an iPhone because it is inherently more secure than other phones, and have likewise chosen home automation because of the security options available. The price tag is not the issue here, but the usability and user experience is. People want their home automation to be as secure and easy to use as their iPhone, so HomeKit is a natural choice.
OK not there yet, but what can Siri do for you? Well, there are a LOT of standard features that come with your iPhone, but when connected to a complete smart home the possibilities seem endless.
Calls and Texts
Messaging and placing hands-free calls to friends, colleagues and enemies. As a powerful personal assistant, Siri can also make use of your agenda to remind you about meetings or even friend’s birthdays.
Getting you up
While it might be possible to do a lot from bed, Siri can help make the morning easier with automations set around your morning routine. Lighting, alarms, music, or whatever else you need in the morning. You can either ask Siri directly, or set an automation to make it happen.
The more you use Siri, the more it can help. Siri is smart enough to look at your agenda and suggest automated scenes to match. Always take a walk at 11am? Then expect a suggestion to turn off the lights for you when you go. Even more fun when other people are still at home.
Keeping an eye out for you
Have you left the garage door open? Just ask Siri. Has your parcel been delivered? Check easily, by asking to see the driveway camera.
Stuck on the Sofa
‘Hey Siri, let’s watch the Lord of the Rings Trilogy’! No more looking for the remote; you can order a pizza, dim the lights and start watching your favorite 12-hour trilogy - all without leaving the sofa.
There have been some big innovations and additions coming to HomeKit for a few years now, and it looks like 2021 might be the year it will all come together.
Here are our picks for the top 3 HomeKit products for 2021:
Back in 2018, Apple announced it was joining forces with Thread, but this is only now bearing fruit. Despite the protective approach Apple has towards its development, it intrinsically seems to realise that there is a need for interoperability, and now Thread is supported on the HomePod mini.
Thread is a NEW connectivity standard, which has been developed by some of the biggest names in automation and technology. It works using a secure IP-based connectivity standard, that makes it easy to add or remove new devices because the network will auto-configure. Products that use Thread are still being developed, but the rollout could be very quick. The potential here is HUGE.
If HomeKit remains entirely closed it will eventually lose appeal. After all, it was several years until Apple was able to offer support for windows-format files on the iMac, but it did eventually happen. So, for HomeKit users this is great news.
The interoperability is a big appeal with Thread, but it has other advantages too. HomeKit uses WiFi signals to communicate with and manage accessories, but this has limitations. For one thing, what if the WiFi doesn’t reach the basement, where your smart accessory is?
Well, then it won’t work.
But Thread uses a mesh-network, that enables each Thread device to connect to the router, or act as a signal booster for the next device in the mesh. This way, the reach is extended much further, and can even be used for low-powered battery-operated devices.
This is definitely one for the shopping-list. If you use an iCloud storage plan it is possible to connect this to your HomeKit using the secure video service. This will enable you to use end-to-end encryption for all your HomeKit security cameras.
There is no additional fee, just the cost of the compatible camera, and your ongoing iCloud subscription.
After rolling out last year, secure video has now become supported by more devices. You can use up to 5 recording-enabled cameras to securely capture and record video from your home for you to watch at any time (within 10 days), from any location, using the Home app. Although multiple users can access the system, the primary Home app user can restrict which users can view all the recordings. Even though the footage is stored on your iCloud, you have total control over who has access, so not even Apple can watch your videos (unless you want them to).
One of the big new things in HomeKit, and definitely our favourite when it comes to truly smart home automation, is the addition of ‘Adaptive Lighting’ which will set a new standard for convenient and comfortable lighting.
Adaptive Lighting is not like other smart lights. With Adaptive Lighting, your lights will adjust their color temperature automatically, based on the time of day, year and your home environment. Wake up with soft yellow tones, work productively with bright cool white and pour your self a glass of wine surrounded by warm yellow lighting at sun set. Real Smart!
With this feature, Apple’s HomeKit smart home software can automatically adjust the color temperature of supported smart home lights throughout the day. You can get warm yellow tones in the morning as the sun rises, cool white lighting at mid-day, and softer yellow hues at night as the sun sets—all automatically.
Adaptive Lighting was first introduced as part of iOS 14 software updates in September 2020, and only works with smart lights or bridges! that support it. So far Philips Hue bulbs and Eve Light Strip are the first two that support it.
Thinka HomeKit for KNX is the first bridge to have Adaptive Lighting in Beta
Find out how you can link HomeKit to a KNX system with a Thinka KNX Bridge, and unlock all the HomeKit smart home functionalities to your KNX home.
Thinka continues to update her products and services based upon your feedback.
On Februari 25, 2021, Thinka launches Thinka Installer Support, a secure remote access to the Thinka Web Client of your customer. Thinka Installer Support offers you the possibility for remote diagnostics, and safe you time and not-needed customer visits. Upon granting access by the customer, Thinka connects to the Thinka server and generates a magic number. This magic number needs to be shared with you by your customer. With this number you can connect to the Thinka server and make a connection with your customer's Thinka.
Thinka Installer Support is available for all Thinka's from 25/02/21 onwards.
Thinka now supports the functionality "Set Point Shift" for thermostats with the new Thinka Software release v4.3.1179.
With "Set Point Shift" it is possible to change the temperature versus the Basic Set point temperature. This addition opens up a higher variety of KNX thermostats that are supported by Thinka KNX.
Configuration of your thermostat is one of the more complex configurations.
The first thing you need to do when configuring your thermostat is to select the type of thermostat: heating, cooling, or heating and cooling. When a thermostat is used for heating and cooling you also need to select whether switching between the heating mode or cooling mode is manual or automatic.
The next configuration option determines how to adjust the Thermostat Setpoint. Either the thermostat's basic setpoint can be adjusted directly or the setpoint can be shifted.
When shifting the setpoint you need to select whether the setpoint can be shifted by a temperature difference or by using a counter value. The counter value is multiplied by the setpoint shift steps in the KNX thermostat to determine the actual adjustment. Ensure that the step size matches the configuration in the KNX thermostat's parameters.
Next you can select the minimum and maximum target temperature. These values determine the available values in the Home App when adjusting the thermostat. They may differ from the allowed values in the thermostat.
After configuring all the parameters you can configure the group addresses used to control the KNX thermostat. You can The group addresses to configure depend on the selected parameters. Want to read more on which parameters you can show on your HomeApp? Go to FAQ - How to configure my thermostat
Thinka KNX has upgraded her hardware. Our hardware version will move from v1.2 to v1.3.
Thinka v1.3 12-30V, 5Watt can be powered by the KNX Auxiliary Power.
Did Thinka KNX v1.2 still needed a separate power supply, with our new version v1.3 that is no longer needed.
All products shipped from 23 October 2020 onwards are v1.3
With KNXperience in full swing, our founder and CEO Michael Franken was interviewed by KNXToday. Michael explains how Security and Data Protection underlie the Thinka KNX Bridge as one of the four design principles.
Our four design principles are:
Controls, that are convenient and super easy to use. At Thinka, we choose the iPhone. A device you already have and take with you all the time; that fits in your pocket, and that your family members use as well. Thinka allows you to take control of your home with an app made by Apple, powerful but simple.
Thinka KNX is the brain that sits in your smart home. An intuitive brain that makes life easy, or at least makes it look easy. This brain understands all the complexity of protocols and accessories, monitors the state of your home and accessories and presents all the various options as a select and tasteful menu. Thinka can easily read all KNX configurations (in ETS) and assist in the configuration of your smartphone or tablet. Thinka is equipped with a powerful processor, so she is not depending on the cloud for computing power.
Your home is your castle – a safe haven. Thinka does not need to know how you live, we do not require an account, and we do not ask for your data. All data stays on your Thinka, and we have no access to it. Thinka has no need to leave your house, if you choose to. Thinka also works with Google Home and Amazon Alexa. It is important to realise they have a different philosophy: they require an account and your data is processed in the cloud. That’s why our first focus is on Apple HomeKit, as it can totally run within your home.
Being the brain of your smart home comes with responsibilities. That’s why Thinka is officially certified by Apple. We do not allow for work-arounds. Apple certification demands that the Thinka is equipped with an authentication chip (MFI). This chip is also used in all Apple products and makes communication between Thinka and your iPhone totally safe. Also when you leave the house, and control your home remotely or install geofencing.
Read the interview of our CEO Michael Franken at KNXToday
Importing ETS Projects into THINKA becomes a piece of cake, when setting up your ETS projects via the Link With Function of ETS5.
When using the Link With functionality, the import of ETS Projects into THINKA is done almost automatically, with manual adjustments decreased to a bare minimum. The functionality creates the group addresses for you. This is done using Floors, Rooms, Channels and Functions. Although released already in April 2016, we notice that a lot of System Integrators are not yet making use of this hidden gem in ETS5.
We have prepared a THINKA Video Tutorial in which we show you how to set up a project in ETS using the Linked With functionality and how to import your ETS Project into THINKA.
This week Apple held their yearly WWDC and announced a lot of new features. For Thinka this means that there are some interesting features for HomeKit users:
The Home App makes smart home control even easier with new automation suggestions and expanded controls in Control Centre for quicker access to accessories and scenes. Adaptive Lighting for compatible HomeKit-enabled lights automatically adjusts the colour temperature throughout the day. The Home app and HomeKit are built to be private and secure, so all information about a user’s home accessories is end-to-end encrypted.
This means that as soon as iOS 14 is available you will be able to adjust the colour temperature of your lights according to the time of day, just like you are used to on your iPhone, where it is called "Night Shift". Night shift automatically shifts the colours of your display to the warmer end of the colour spectrum after dark. This may help you get a better night's sleep.
Also there a few new icons on the HomeApp, that will show the most important devices and events in your Home.
Recently the new version of our app was accepted by Apple and released in the App Store. The app now allows you to monitor the status of your network and KNX system. Furthermore it supports Thinka's that are protected with a password.
Just like before it still assists you in pairing your Thinka with HomeKit on your phone, and putting all devices in the proper rooms. The app will show a notification of the number of Thinka accessories that are out-of-sync with HomeKit as well.
If you have any questions or requests, please let us know via email@example.com If you like the app, please leave a review in the App Store, we really appreciate it.
What if … your favorite football team is playing and when they score your lights start flashing!
What if ... it starts raining and your sun shades close automatically!
That’s possible with Thinka because besides Apple Homekit, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, Thinka can also be connected with Olisto.
Olisto connects your devices, apps, and services and makes them all work together. How? By creating your own rules. Build real time connections between multiple devices, apps and services.
Have a look for the summary of features you can control using Olisto.
Or start using Olisto by enabling the feature on your Thinka and visit the Thinka channel on Olisto.
Dear Thinka Customer,
Current developments regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) are raising many questions over the whole world. That’s why we would like to inform you about the current situation at Thinka.
The Thinka Team is as usual available for support, we are working on updates and making Thinka even better.The webshop is open 24 hours a day. You can reach us via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and telephone +31(0)20 2420666 from Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 17:30.
We are convinced that we will master this crisis together and wish you, your family and your colleagues the best of luck and health in the coming weeks!
We will of course keep you informed of all developments.
Do you have any questions? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Stay safe and healthy,
Thinka has been supporting color lights for a while, with the latest version 4.3.1046, support has been expanded to include KNX actuators with separate dimmer channels for all colors.
For configuration, select the “Lightbulb (Color)” service type and “Separate color channels” for the Color Datapoint Type parameter. Each color channel needs to be configured with set and listen addresses for the switch and brightness group objects. The white channel is optional.
As of now Thinka is Apple certified for push buttons, tunable white lights, color lights, leak and smoke sensors. Again a great step forward. All HomeKit, Alexa and Google supported features can be found here.
The 5 new supported features:
Seldom has home automation contributed so much to the quality of life as in the home of Bernhard Müller. The Dutch entrepreneur was diagnosed with the incurable illness amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2010. The powerful combination of KNX home automation and Thinka voice control gives Bernhard the opportunity to live and work at home as independently as possible.
The whole - and impressive - article is published In the KNX Journal of March 2019.
Download KNX Journal 2019 ALS article English or German
Joost Schellevis published an article on a national Dutch news channel with the results of a study by ethical hacker Daan Keuper (Computest) showing 17444 buildings with the systems based on the KNX standard are easily accessible to hackers. The complete article can be found here.
The source of this vulnerability lies in the fact that the KNX system is opened up to the Internet with a IP-Gateway that is not properly secured. A KNX IP-Gateway can be safe when properly installed by your home automation specialist. Unfortunately this is not common practice.
Use Thinka-for-KNX bridge and Apple for proper security
Thinka developed a KNX bridge to control houses and buildings using Apple HomeKit. Each Apple device and Thinka itself is equipped with an encryption chip realising secure communication.
Thinka is HomeKit certified so all communication between your KNX installation and the Thinka is encrypted. To guarantee security and privacy, Thinka is installed inside your KNX enabled home and information from your configuration is never exposed over the internet. Thinka only communicates to
the internet for software updates and when using Alexa or Google Home.
How to get it for free?
All you need to do is go to the settings page of your Thinka and you will find the option to enable Google Home support*. Meanwhile you can read how to setup Google on your Thinka from our support page.
Work in progress
Google is growing its platform and we keep up to date with them as much as possible. For now its possible to work with switches and lights. See also the overview of all supported features supported features for Apple, Amazon and Google. If you have any question, something not working, a wish, please let us know via email@example.com.
Some users need to upgrade
Google Smart Home support is available on the certified HomeKit version of Thinka for KNX.
What is new?
1. Incremental import
When importing your ETS file again, the existing configuration stays intact and all changes gathered in the 'Review room'. From here you can start fine-tuning your configuration.
2. Review room
In the review room all items are shown that need additional information or were added when you performed an incremental import. A kind of to-do list.
3. Autocomplete group addresses
For all accessories you need to fill in the group addresses. When you start typing (the service name) Thinka gives a list of options you can choose from. Select the right item and all addresses are automatically filled in. This feature helps you speeding up the configuration process. See this video for an example. In order for this to work you need to (re)import your ETS file.
4. Drag & Drop
You can now drag and drop accessories to a room. See this video for an example.
5. Edit and Save
When you edit the configuration it will not be applied until you press the 'Save' button. This way editing becomes easier.
More information can be found at:
Thinka support pages
Thinka Vimeo channel
Amazon Alexa works with ’Routines’ allowing the voice assistant to complete multiple tasks with a single voice command.
With Routines users no longer have to give multiple commands to Alexa, such as “Alexa, turn off the living room lamp,” “Alexa, turn down the thermostat,” and “Alexa, what's the weather”. Instead, you can let Alexa take care of them with one command. And Alexa can give you a spoken notification back.
Routines can be triggered in two ways. You give the command to start a routine. For example ‘movie time’.
Or use a contact or motion sensor to start a routine automatically.
Thinka for KNX
Thinka for KNX connects Amazon Alexa to your home meaning all selected devices in your house - including your smart sensors - can be used in routines. So you’re totally free in making your house more smart and comfortable. Works with Apple Homekit as well.
For Alexa, the voice assistant of Amazon, Thinka developed a great new feature.
Control color and tunable white lights
House owners with a KNX system and a Thinka KNX bridge can now use Amazons voice assistant ALEXA to set the lights in any color they want. It works for color (HSB) and tuneable white lights. Thinka is the first one in the world making this possible.
‘Alexa, Set the living room lights purple’‘
Alexa, turn the bathroom lights warm red’
An overview of all supported features by Thinka for KNX can be viewed over here.
In this video you can see how voice control is being used in the Royal Suite of the Pomegranate Wellness Spa Hotel. It shows voice control of lights, thermostat, curtains, scenes, and more. This hotel room uses KNX home automation and a Thinka, a bridge connecting KNX to the world of Google, Amazon and Apple and gives users all new kind of possibilities like voice control, touch control, geo fences and more.
A KNX project of George Karipidis.
In this blog I will try to explain each option and describe how this option is available in HomeKit.
First off, the most simple version of a thermostat is one where you can only set the target temperature. To get this to work Thinka only requires two group addresses. One address for the actual temperature and one for the setpoint temperature. Use a temperature sensor when you only want to be able to read the actual temperature. This will show up in Apple's Home app as a simple temperature slider. Or use Siri:"Hey Siri, it's cold in here" "Okay, I'm warming the living room from 19°C to 20°C."
We can also let Thinka know if your KNX climate system is currently heating or not. This is done with the "Heating status" setting. When you system is heating this will show in the Home app as "Heating to X°" and the icon will turn orange.
Same goes for "Cooling status". This only applies if you KNX climate system supports cooling and it works the same as the "Heating status" above. This will show in the Home app as "Cooling to X°" and the icon will turn blue.
Some KNX climate systems require manual switching between heating and cooling and don't do this automatically. For this to work from HomeKit you can use the "Heating/cooling mode" setting. This setting shows up in HomeKit when long pressing the thermostat icon in the Home app and then go to "Mode" at the bottom of the screen. When this setting isn't used the "Mode" will be set to "Auto" and Thinka expects the KNX climate system to switch between heating and cooling automatically.
The last available setting is "Operating mode". This enables the HomeKit option to set the Thermostat to "Off" from the "Mode" menu. For most KNX climate systems this means the system is switched from "Comfort" to "Building protect" and prevents freezing or overheating the system.
A Trade Fair is always exhausting, but so worth it. We gained new contacts, impressions and a lot of insights.
The number of visitors and positive reactions at the Thinka stand where overwhelming.
Thank you all for who have visited us.
We are already looking forward to Light + Building 2020.
Top entrepreneur and ALS patient Bernard Muller uses Thinka to control his home. Thinka connects Apple's voice assistant Siri to KNX. Bernard is now able to move around his house again without the need for help from other people. His whole home can be controlled via voice, from curtains up to his in-house elevator! This gives him mental and physical freedom.
This case is nominated for the prestigious KNX People’s Choice Award.
Please help us promote this case by voting for Bernard and Siri for KNX.
Three good reasons to do so:
HOW TO VOTE:
Thank you for your help!
Michael Franken - CEO & Founder Thinka
Mike van der Hulst - CEO Domoticom & Founder Thinka
Bernard Muller - Founder project MinE
Yesterday, the Amazon Alexa app could finally be used in the Netherlands! Ordering the Amazon Echo speaker was not possible, but from today onwards you can! Have a look at this article on Tweakers
The first 100 Thinkas are on their way to their new owners and we can't wait to hear how Alexa is getting on in her new KNX home(s).
☑️ Software ☑️ Assembly
☑️ PCB ☑️ Packaging
We have received all the parts to build a (Amazon Echo) Thinka.
Next week we'll perform our last tests and start packaging:
☑️ Software ◽️ Assembly
☑️ PCB ◽️ Packaging
Getting real close now!
We just received our new casing from China. Soon we will start building Thinkas!
We have completed development of Amazon Echo support. Amazon Echo is available in the UK and Germany and is becoming more and more popular
We are offering Amazon Echo support for free.
We have made good progress and are about to finalise all custom hardware.
The production of the custom Thinka case has begun, starting with making the mould.
The casing wil be grey with a red bottom.
Hope you'll like it.
Prepare your Thinka using this video instruction. It shows how to upload a new ETS project and edit the results to get your accessories ready.
Have fun watching our first video!
The first early adopters have received their Thinkas. We have shipped the first batch on May 31st.
Next international shipment is expected to ship June 10th.
The Thinka box has arrived together with the setup guide. Exiting times for Thinka and her early adopters.
Thinka is almost ready to be shipped...
At the end of April the first Thinkas will be on their way. This is an exciting moment for us and a great step forward in the area of home and building automation. Below, a brief Thinka update.
Plug & Play
Thinka has two kinds of clients. One is the KNX system integrator and the other is the end-user. For both Thinka is striving for the best user experience and a seamless onboarding process. This means a lot of testing and adjusting with real clients. For the KNX system integrator it is important to see, recognize and manage all items of the KNX system and get it ready to use for the end-user. For the end-user it is important to understand how the app works and how they can get the most out of it. We have received some great feedback from our real-world tests that is helping us improve the Thinka experience for everyone.
From 24-28 May 2016 The Netherlands will be the place where every startup in the world wants to be. It is a four day marathon of matchmaking between startups, investors, developers and corporates. Fourteen regional innovation hubs will host world class events on specialised topics.
See also: startupfesteurope
Thinka is one of the selected startups to join the opening event.
Very exciting, especially with this great speakers around: