If you have done much reading about home automation or smart home accessories, the chances are that you’ve heard about HomeKit, the smart home platform from Apple.
As the owner of a KNX home, perhaps it has left you wondering what possibilities are offered by HomeKit, or the other smart home platforms. How do these compare to the reliability and security of a KNX home, and how can you add these possibilities to your current system without needing to use a whole different app or interface?
HomeKit is definitely the best choice of smart home platform for adding to a KNX home, should you choose to do so. It has the highest level of security and data privacy, and comes with the ease-of-use and stability you can expect from Apple.
HomeKit offers an ever-increasing range of new smart home functionalities that are in constant development, with more automation options available every year. This gives you entirely new ways to use existing smart devices and accessories.
HomeKit has a rigorous certification system, so all the functionalities, apps and products that have the official HomeKit certification will work perfectly without causing system instabilities or security holes.
KNX home owners are already familiar with the full range of smart devices available for a KNX home, including sensors, garden sprinklers, security cameras, and doors (to name a few). So the question is, what do you have to gain from bridging your KNX system to HomeKit using a Thinka?
When you have a Thinka, you can use HomeKit to easily manage KNX automations in a way that would not be possible otherwise. Even more so, you can easily define new automations yourself without installers assistance.
KNX devices operate using a different protocol, but the Thinka is able to bridge the gap between your KNX devices and HomeKit, so you can make full use of all the HomeKit smart home functionalities and features with your KNX devices too. This opens up all of the possibilities of HomeKit for your KNX home, including features like geofencing, adaptive lighting, voice control/home assistant, and much more.
A side benefit is that you can also securely add devices from the HomeKit ecosystem to your KNX smart home. HomeKit users love the flexibility and easy ‘plug-and-play’ installation of these, and now these can be easily integrated to your KNX home, allowing you to control all of them with a single app.
With a Thinka, your KNX system can now be controlled securely using the Apple Home app, which is standard available on all your Apple devices. So you can use the same app to control all your KNX devices as well as HomeKit accessories
Let’s explore what new functionalities you can bring to your KNX home with HomeKit, and see just how easy it is to set these up.
Just what can HomeKit do? Ask a HomeKit user and they’ll probably say “everything!”, but that doesn’t tell us anything specific really, does it? The truth is, HomeKit cannot do everything, but it makes things so easy that it can seem that way.
Adding new automations is easy using the Home app, as it uses an intuitive interface which enables the user to set up various scenes, group together automations and add new accessories to your system. You can also use Siri to create automations or directly control devices with voice commands.
HomeKit offers a range of seriously useful functionalities, like face recognition, geofencing, and adaptive lighting. These add a whole new dimension of depth of service to your smart home – and these become available for your KNX home too, when you use a Thinka to bridge it to HomeKit.
We have 5 top tips, to show you how you can make the most out of HomeKit with your KNX home this summer:
A big part of being able to enjoy a vacation comes from being able to actually relax.
That means that you don’t want to be worrying about whether you remembered to lock all the doors, close all the windows, or activate the security system before you left the house for the airport!
Using HomeKit’s Geofencing feature, you can have a variety of automations set up based on your location. So when you leave the house, the gates can close automatically behind you, the doors and windows can be secured, lighting turned off (or on), and the security system activated. This way you know that every time you leave home it will be secure and set up the way you want.
HomeKit’s Geofencing feature is probably the number one functionality that really adds value to a smart home, and being able to add this feature to a KNX home has to be one of the best reasons to bridge your KNX to HomeKit.
How to set up a Geofence automation
Adaptive lighting is one of the most recent features to be added to the HomeKit platform, and although the choice is limited now, a wider range of new Adaptive Lighting products and accessories is starting to become available. Many lighting features can already be controlled and automated with HomeKit.
The big difference with Adaptive Lighting is the possibility of automating lighting level and color temperature (or color) of the lighting, based on the time of day. In practice, this means you can be woken up in the morning with a gently increasing light level, or unwind easily in the evening with warmer light that has less of the blue wavelengths that disrupt circadian rhythms and sleep patterns.
You can also set it up so that at night, the lights will only be at a certain brightness and color if you turn them on. This works perfectly with DALI lighting solutions for example, however there are a lot of options for this. The Nanoleaf lightstrip, for example, can be customized with Adaptive Lighting. Alternatively, you can use a smart bulb like the Philips Hue Ambiance to enjoy customized lighting using your regular light fittings. All these options are HomeKit certified accessories that can be added to your KNX home and be controlled together with your KNX devices via the Apple Home App.
This means you can enjoy a nice evening indoors or outdoors, and the lights will automatically come on at just the right level – without needing to interrupt the flow of conversation (or wine).
How to set up Adaptive Lighting
There are lots of reasons why people choose smart home products, but one of the biggest markets is for home security products, especially cameras. IP cameras make it incredibly easy to add security or doorbell camera functionality to a smart home, and HomeKit can use advanced features like face recognition and event recognition to activate automations. These devices have been extra-useful during the COVID period too, as they enable homeowners to communicate with delivery drivers and easily ‘screen’ visitors at the door.
During the summertime, you can easily check who is at the door (so you decide if it’s worth getting out of the pool or getting dressed), or you can keep an eye on your home while on vacation - giving you total peace of mind.
There has been a lot of concern about adding cameras to a smart home however, especially because of the security and privacy risk if these are breached. Thankfully, HomeKit has developed a robust and secure system called HomeKit Secure Video.
HomeKit Secure Video effectively ring-fences your video feed, and stores it securely on your iCloud storage account (without counting towards your storage limit). It can be viewed (by selected people) for up to 10 days.
Your Home Hub can also automatically detect what is going on, and send video directly to the lock screen on your iPhone when certain activity has been detected. It could be a car pulling up in your driveway, someone creeping around in the garden, or someone ringing the doorbell – even a specific person arriving at the property (using face recognition).
This feature means you can relax on the beach in Trinidad, knowing that you don’t need to check your home cameras unless defined activity is detected.
HomeKit’s Secure Video is super-secure (hence the name), but it also means you are limited to using HomeKit-certified IP cameras, and any cameras already installed as a part of your KNX system cannot be bridged to HomeKit. It might seem a pain, but this high standard of security is ultimately one of the many reasons why HomeKit is such a great smart home platform.
There are lots of smart garden products that can help automate things in the garden, but only Gardena currently makes a good range of stable products that are also HomeKit compatible. The Gardena smart system includes the full range of smart garden products, including irrigation control (mains and pumped), and smart sensors that can be used to automate irrigation based on need.
There are also smart mowers available in the Gardena range, but these do not natively work with HomeKit. Although there is a ‘workaround’ using Homebridge, it may be better (and more secure) to use the Husqvarna automower, which can be controlled with an Apple watch or iPhone, or wait just a little while until a HomeKit-ready mower is available.
Using an automated watering system will ease your mind when on vacation, but it will take the pressure off for the rest of the year too, so you can spend more time enjoying your garden knowing that it will be properly watered.
These systems can be great for saving water too if you set up the automations properly; using sensors you can ensure plants receive water only when they actually need it, or you can use a timed setting. Gardena’s smart irrigation system is capable of controlling up to six different zones, using a separate valve for each. If you need more you can use the smart pump (with a reservoir), which is self-priming, protected against running dry, and is fully weather-proof .
There are also some great products from other manufacturers too, like the water regulator from Eve, however Gardena currently offers the most options in a single range.
New: Thinka now supports Valve in beta
An awesome tip for your vacation! You can consider so many automations that will make your home look occupied while you are away. Curtains and blinds can be opened and closed, lights turned on and off, and even the TV or music can be activated at various times to give the impression that someone’s still at home.
While your intruder alarm might scare off a burglar when they break in, using HomeKit’s many options you can actually help prevent a break-in from occurring in the first place, because it will look like you’re still at home.
This peace of mind will make it much easier to relax and enjoy vacation time!
All these different automations you or your family members/colleagues, can easily set up by yourself, with the automations HomeKit has to offer.
What are your favourite ways to use HomeKit in your home? It’s amazing how many possibilities there are when you combine all the different options - let us know what you have come up with!