With so many different plug and play options, why would anyone want to put with all the extra effort required with an open-source home automation controller? Well, one reason is that you can customize it however you like. Another is the ability to see precisely what the software is doing, relieving any privacy concerns. Here we're going to look into some of the reasons you might want to use an open-source home automation system and some of the reasons you might want to pass on it.
In a previous post, we demonstrated building a voice assistant out of open source components. One of the issues that we didn't address at the time is that there are still dependencies on the cloud for some of the critical functions, such as the Speech to Text engine. Here we will see how we can modify that system to operate (almost) completely offline.
There are many different voice assistants available, but they share one common trait that seems so difficult to escape: a required connection to the cloud. Today we are going to build a voice assistant that can work completely offline, but we will explore setting up your own TTS and STT servers in a future article. For now, we will use the Mycroft servers which claim to respect user privacy by anonymizing every request and requiring an opt-in to their data collection program.
The situation seems so familiar: you have an air conditioner unit that uses an IR remote, but you want to control it via your own thermostat. At least then you could manage it remotely or start cooling the air before you get home from work. This was the situation I was in, and to solve it, I built a temperature sensor with an onboard IR blaster, allowing it to also send commands to my portable air conditioner. All of this can be done for under 20$ as a relatively simple DIY project.
For a very long time now, I have wanted to be able to sync my "bed time" alarm within the iOS clock app with my Home Assistant automations. It would be so nice to only need to specify my alarm in one place instead of multiple or having to abandon the app I've used for so long. I always thought this was impossible, but I have recently discovered that the Shortcuts app on iOS can be used to do this task, and so much more!