This week we start the show with my first impressions of the Aqara FP2 mmWave sensor. This $83 sensor can detect multiple people in a room, light settings, and falls. It’s also one of the first presence sensors that uses radar to detect people as opposed to interruptions in infrared light. (The newest Ecobee thermostat also has a radar sensor for person detection.) After talking about my experience getting the device working and covering its limitations, we move on to discuss the use of dark patterns in IoT devices, based on an article from Consumer Reports. Then we talk about an update to InfluxData’s time-series platform that might be useful for those processing time-series data. In funding news, Hakimo raised money for using computer vision for physical security, and $96 million went to smart electric panel maker Span. In small product updates WiZ lights get a Matter version, there’s a new Shelly Bluetooth button, and Google Nest devices will chime instead of providing a long-winded spoken confirmation. And then we cover the new Z-Wave module for Yale’s Assure 2 lock. Finally, we answer a listener question about smart locks that would work with the Ring security system.
Our guest this week is Daniel Wroclawski, a senior writer at Consumer Reports, who is on the show to discuss an article he spent two years writing. It’s about how connected appliances collect and share your data. We talk about his conversations (or lack of conversations) with the five big appliance makers about the state of connected device data gathering. We discuss why consumers and manufacturers are excited about connected appliances and then talk about some of their potential downfalls. For example, will your oven features work if you don’t connect it to the internet? Maybe not. We also talk about what we should do in our homes to protect our privacy and what Congress needs to take action on. It’s a good show, especially if you have a connected fridge.
JD Roberts says
Fun episode. 🙂
To answer one quick question: yes, Matter sensors can report actionable Lux values. See, for example, Eve Motion.
As for when lux values are useful, you will often find these sensors in motion sensors which are intended to control lights so that you can have motion in the room turn on the lights ONLY when the room is dark enough. Rather than just turning them on all day long. Hue motion sensors have them built in, Ring motion sensor lights have them built in, the Lutron motion sensor has it built in, the most current Eve motion now has one built in, etc.
However they often are not included in motion sensors which are designed to be part of an intruder alert security system, because then you probably want the alert whether it’s daytime or nighttime. The companies don’t want to make their devices more expensive by including a feature you probably aren’t going to use anyway.
So if you’re used to selecting motion sensors to control lights, you’re probably already using lux sensors. But if you’re only used to selecting motion sensors for a security system, you probably aren’t.
JD Roberts says
Also, a personal note… Because I use a wheelchair but can do my own transfers, falling is always an issue for me. I’ve had a lot of different fall detectors over the years. My favorite is the Apple Watch. It’s comfortable, it’s water resistant, it’s stylish, and while not perfect it works as well as most wearable fall detectors. And as a wearable, it goes where you go, including out in the yard or out by the mailbox. It also means you have communications from wherever you are, to text a family member or call 911.
The main issue when using it as a fall detector is battery life. I actually have two watches, as do some of my friends with similar use cases, so that I can wear one 24 hours a day. I just swap them out at bedtime.
If you only use the built-in official Apple fall detection feature, it will always call 911 first, and then contact your emergency contacts.
Instead, you can combine it with a third-party app like Fall Safety Home which will contact your emergency contacts and NOT call 911. There’s a free version that works for just one contact number or you can pay $5/month to have up to five contacts.
There are other third-party apps that provide more services for higher monthly fees if you’re looking for those.
I’m not saying the aqara might not be useful as a fall detector for lots of people. But as someone who does need this type of solution, I personally like a wearable better. Choice is good.
JD Roberts, thank you for sharing your use case. Also you are correct, choice is good. My wife works in the dementia ward of an aged care facility,and watches simply do not work in this environment. An mmWave sensor could be really useful in this scenario. It could also replace pressure mats they have on the floor to alert staff to residents getting out of bed during the night.
JD Roberts says
Good example of a use case where a ceilingbased monitor would be a good match. No question that different things will work for different situations.
MMWave sensors are are available and working quite reliably, sensing my son on his console. It is keeping the lights on so much better than the 2 old school motion sensors that just don’t sense thumb movement. (Of course, you know this.)
I purchased a pair of “Tuya ZigBee Wifi MmWave Human Presence Motion Sensor With Luminance/Distance” (wall mount) off of AliExpress for less than $22 each. I designed & 3D printed a proper mount for it and it has not missed a single night of gaming. 5 months and it is flawless in Hubitat and Home Assistant.
Stacey Higginbotham says
I was referring to it being widely and commercially available, but yes, there are mmWave sensors around. That is an awesome use case!