News

Smart Home Automation News

Reverse engineering the popular BM2 BLE car battery monitor

61842QRRRyL._SL1500_.jpg
Someone has taken the time to properly reverse engineer the apps used with these popular BM2 lead acid battery monitoring solutions. As suspected, it phones home and reports data back to Chinese infrastructure, generating major privacy concerns.
A great 3-part article which is worth checking out.

However, there is a work around here for Home Assistant users. Since I have this same hardware, but always refused to install the app, I figured out how to grab this data using an ESP32 running ESPHome. Now I can read the BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) broadcasts raw data into ESPHome, which can massage the data and output the actual voltage of the battery, no Chinese application required.

I personally use this setup to alert me when my vehicle's (only gets driven once a week at best) lead acid battery drops too low for comfort. This data is more helpful in the winter, where not being able to predict battery performance can be an issue and having it trickle charge is not an option. I may create a write up for this someday, if there's interest.

Taken from my Home Assistant dashboard:
 

Attachments

  • 1688269001750.png
    1688269001750.png
    27.9 KB · Views: 139
Last edited:

CocoonTech turns 20!

CocoonTech celebrates 20 years, generated via OpenAI, reflecting both how far AI has come, and how much more work is ahead

And just like that, 20 years have passed! 20 years ago, the CocoonTech.com domain was registered, and the first public post was published. Many home automation related blogs and forums have come and gone, but CocoonTech is still around. I typically don't talk much about anniversaries, but this is quite a milestone! Time for a quick braindump/rant :)

Past

Although CocoonTech's design has seen several changes, its guiding ideas—which center on supporting and integrating a wide range of home automation technology in a setting that encourages creativity and acceptance of unconventional ideas—have remained constant.

However, the world around it has changed for sure. When CocoonTech launched, X10 was still popular, the Apple iPhone didn't exist, Youtube what? and Netflix only offered DVD via mail rental services. However, thanks to a brilliant DIY community wanting to be ahead, products such as Homeseer and HAL which allowed us to build the home of the future in the present (self-hosted voice control!) , products such as Microsoft Windows Media Center, MythTV and SageTV offered distributed media & TV streaming before platforms such as Roku or Firestick were even thought of.

Fast-forward 20 years. Products such as Girder and CQC are unfortunately no longer around, new technologies have come and almost gone such as INSTEON and UPB (but UPB is still supported thanks to efforts by its creator, PCS), Home Automation Inc (OmniPro series) has been purchased and discontinued by Leviton, X10 still exists, controlling TVs remotely is still as complicated as ever, and thanks to everything becoming a subscription based cloud service, the internet is starting to forget about all the things we were able to accomplish way back without having to sacrifice privacy or security. Vendors such as SmartHome.com and AutomatedOutlet.com are unfortunately no longer around and/or have been aquired by other businesses. I do want to go out of my way thanking vendors such as Homeseer Technologies (hat tip to Rich/Mark/Rupp and many of its community members), Automated Outlet (hey Martin!) and Aartech who have supported CocoonTech and the DIY home automation community during these years. What a blast!

Screenshot of the initial CocoonTech.com design and first post in 2003Screenshot of the 2nd major redesign of CocoonTech.com in 2009

Present

But it's not as bad/sad as it sounds. We still have some really great solutions. Z-Wave has matured significantly and become affordable (hat tip to Homeseer for leading the adoption of this tech in the DIY space), ZigBee is still around with Matter-compatible products becoming available for sale, and open-souce projects such as Home Assistant leading the DIY home automation space. While the term ladder logic may not be as popular anymore, there's no way I can forget to mention what platforms such as the Arduino, ESP32 and Raspberry Pi have have brought to DIY automation space. And while vendors such as Automated Outlet are no longer around, a few others are popping up trying to fill these shoes and are offering similar examplary customer service, such as The Smartest House. Home automation has become more accessible to everyone, which is a very good thing (especially in the accessibility space), so despite technology shortcomings/changes, it's still a big win.

Last but not least. I'm extremely proud of this community, and how helpful and supportive everyone has been. Many of you are still lurking (I see you, I just don't want to call you out for privacy reasons, but PM me anytime). Many of you have chatted with me in the past, and some of you can even confirm I'm not a bot ;) This forum is a collection of very intelligent and kind minds (I really can't understate how diverse and brilliant some of these backgrounds are), and thanks to the dedication of some of these hardworking people, CocoonTech is still around. I'd love to call you out directly for supporting this community, but I know I'm going to forget some names (hey, I also aged 20 years!), and don't want to offend, so I may do this in a later/separate post. So many people have been helped by asking for help here on CocoonTech!

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you everyone!

Future

What's next? I'm not sure yet. Social media has changed the forum game, despite all the pitfalls associated with these platforms. Many forums have shut down, or have been purchaesd by a huge network of forums. As some may have noticed, privacy & security have always been important to me, and I feel this is something which will be appreciated by more and more people as we go down the cloud rabbit hole. Running a site like this has been (and still is) an extremely expensive endevour. I've refused many buyout offers and ad networks just because I don't want user data to be shared.

But I love this community, and I'm excited with all the future tech that's on the horizon and just starting to be deployed now. Some of the latest AI demos have been really impressive, and the challenge of trying to come up with alternatives which don't rely on the cloud/subscription model is one that wants me to keep going. But as always, I'll need help getting people to find this place :)

Final Words

So if you were ever part of this 20 year old experience so far, be it via a single post on some other home automation forum, one of the many software/plugin authors who inspired me (RIP Jim Doolittle), or just someone lurking, I'm forever grateful!

Would love to hear how home automation or CocoonTech may have had an impact on your life, or if you're an 'old timer' who has been lurking, make your voice heard (or reach out via PM). I'd love to hear how people implemented new technologies, or how they are still supporting some of the older hardware out there.

Last but not least, I have to thank my wife who has supported this effort since day 1. I wouldn't have started this site if it wasn't for her to be so understanding and encouraging. She has put up with many of my mistakes and issues while testing the latest scripts, hardware or tech, no matter how comical or frustrating the results were. But as we all know, when things fail to perform as expected, we find out just how much everyone appreciates these efforts (or not in some cases). Thank you honey!

DISCLAIMER: I was 'trying' to keep this post short, so many interesting facts and details may have been omitted. Feel free to add to this thread, or correct me if needed.
 

Chamberlain Group officially blocks DIY home automation solutions

1699321824711.pngIn an announcement which will probably surprise no-one, Chamberlain, the company behind the popular cloud myQ garage door control service, announced that it's intentionally blocking all 3rd party home automation platforms which aren't authorized, effectively blocking all DIY platforms such as Home Assistant.
Chamberlain Group recently made the decision to prevent unauthorized usage of our myQ ecosystem through third-party apps.
This decision was made so that we can continue to provide the best possible experience for our 10 million+ users, as well as our authorized partners who put their trust in us. We understand that this impacts a small percentage of users, but ultimately this will improve the performance and reliability of myQ, benefiting all of our users.
We encourage those who were impacted to check out our authorized partners here: https://www.myq.com/works-with-myq
We’ll continue to provide important updates and developments related to myQ on our Chamberlain Group and myQ newsroom.
-Dan Phillips, Chief Technology Officer

Home Assistant also announced the official retirement of the myQ integration, while recommending the ESP32 based ratdgo solution, which is fully local and works with the Chamberlain/Liftmaster hardware.
 

Connectivity Standards Alliance announces Matter 1.2, includes 9 new device types

The Alliance is excited to share that the second update to Matter, version 1.2, is now available for device makers and platforms to build into their products. It is packed with nine new device types, revisions, and additions to existing categories, core improvements to the specification and SDK, and certification and testing tools. The Matter 1.2 certification program is now open and members expect to bring these enhancements and new device types to market later this year and into 2024 and beyond.
Since the release of Matter 1.0 a little more than a year ago, we’ve seen real growth and progress, with over 24,600 downloads of the spec,1,214 certifications, nearly 24% growth in the number of companies who have joined the Matter Working Group, and a new Alliance Interoperability Test Facility.
Matter’s roll-out has out-paced the typical adoption cycles of previous industry standards. Rather than taking years for users to replace hub hardware, software updates enable existing smart home hubs and devices to become Matter controllers. This has created a global market with up to hundreds of millions of homes ready to connect new Matter devices. There are Matter products from popular and innovative brands across all initially supported device categories, with products and apps in users’ homes, on their smartphones and tablets, and on store shelves.
As users connect more of those Matter devices, member companies have actively engaged with each other about their experiences and initial challenges, and are continuing to make improvements in the specification to address them.
In April, Matter 1.1 brought incremental improvements and delivered on the Matter Working Group’s plan to do two releases per year. This, along with the requirement that Matter certified products offer over-the-air software updates, provides a reliable mechanism for adding new features, new device types, and meaningful under-the-hood improvements to the spec, the tools, the SDK, and products in the market.

Nine New Device Types​

We are adding support for nine new device types in Matter 1.2, bringing new layers of interoperability, simplicity, reliability, and security while unlocking new use cases and features for the future.
The new device types supported in Matter 1.2 include:
  1. Refrigerators – Beyond basic temperature control and monitoring, this device type is also applicable to other related devices like deep freezers and even wine and kimchi fridges.
  2. Room Air Conditioners – While HVAC and thermostats were already part of Matter 1.0, stand alone Room Air Conditioners with temperature and fan mode control are now supported.
  3. Dishwashers – Basic functionality is included, like remote start and progress notifications. Dishwasher alarms are also supported, covering operational errors such as water supply and drain, temperature, and door lock errors.
  4. Laundry Washers – Progress notifications, such as cycle completion, can be sent via Matter. Dryers will be supported in a future Matter release.
  5. Robotic Vacuums – Beyond the basic features like remote start and progress notifications, there is support for key features like cleaning modes (dry vacuum vs wet mopping) and additional status details (brush status, error reporting, charging status).
  6. Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms – These alarms will support notifications and audio and visual alarm signaling. Additionally, there is support for alerts about battery status and end-of-life notifications. These alarms also support self-testing. Carbon monoxide alarms support concentration sensing, as an additional data point.
  7. Air Quality Sensors – Supported sensors can capture and report on: PM1, PM 2.5, PM 10, CO2, NO2, VOC, CO, Ozone, Radon, and Formaldehyde. Furthermore, the addition of the Air Quality Cluster enables Matter devices to provide AQI information based on the device’s location.
  8. Air Purifiers – Purifiers utilize the Air Quality Sensor device type to provide sensing information and also include functionality from other device types like Fans (required) and Thermostats (optional). Air purifiers also include consumable resource monitoring, enabling notifications on filter status (both HEPA and activated carbon filters are supported in 1.2).
  9. Fans –Matter 1.2 includes support for fans as a separate, certifiable device type. Fans now support movements like rock/oscillation and new modes like natural wind and sleep wind. Additional enhancements include the ability to change the airflow direction (forward and reverse) and step commands to change the speed of airflow.
The appliance support added in Matter 1.2 gave the Matter Working Group a starting point to build out a set of foundational features — such as temperature setting and monitoring, and status notifications — which will be applicable to nearly all appliances supported in future releases.

Other New Features & Improvements

The fall update to Matter is more than just new device types. The Matter specification along with the SDK, testing tools, and certification program are continuing to evolve with active participation from hundreds of leading smart home engineers and product experts. Their meaningful contributions and hard work demonstrate that Matter continues to gain momentum and that the overall experience for consumers and developers will continue to improve over time.
Core improvements to the Matter 1.2 specification include:
  • Latch & Bolt Door Locks – Enhancements for European markets that capture the common configuration of a combined latch and bolt lock unit.
  • Device Appearance – Added description of device appearance, so that devices can describe their color and finish. This will enable helpful representations of devices across clients.
  • Device & Endpoint Composition – Devices can now be hierarchically composed from complex endpoints allowing for accurate modeling of appliances, multi-unit switches, and multi-light fixtures.
  • Semantic Tags – Provide an interoperable way to describe the location and semantic functions of generic Matter clusters and endpoints to enable consistent rendering and application across the different clients. For example, semantic tags can be used to represent the location and function of each button on a multi-button remote control.
  • Generic Descriptions of Device Operational States – Expressing the different operational modes of a device in a generic way will make it easier to generate new device types in future revisions of Matter and ensure their basic support across various clients.

Under-the-Hood Enhancements: Matter SDK & Test Harness

Matter 1.2 brings important enhancements in the testing and certification program which helps companies bring products – hardware, software, chipsets and apps – to market faster. These improvements will benefit the wider developer community and ecosystem around Matter.
  • New Platform Support in SDK – Matter 1.2 SDK is now available for new platforms providing more ways for developers to build new products for Matter.
  • Enhancements to the Matter Test Harness – The Test Harness is a critical piece for ensuring the specification and its features are being implemented correctly. The Test Harness is now available via open source, making it easier for Matter developers to contribute to the tools (to make them better), and to ensure they are working with the latest version (with all features and bug fixes.
As a market-driven technology, new device types, features, and updates that make it into Matter specification releases are the result of commitments by member companies to multiple stages of authorship, implementation, and testing. In order to release Matter 1.2, the Alliance recently completed a Specification Validation Event with engineers across these new device types which demonstrates a significant resource commitment from participating companies. These investments from member companies illustrate real momentum from brands and ecosystem providers to bring products with these new device types to market.
Developers interested in learning more about these enhancements can access the following resources:

Looking Ahead

With Matter 1.2 now available to device and app makers around the world, and nine new device types and important new features and improvements, the work on Matter continues. Teams of engineers and product leaders from hundreds of global technology brands are actively working on future device types, features, and use cases while solving challenging technical problems and enhancing the overall experience for consumers and developers.
This Fall, we’ll continue to see new Matter products come to market and new software updates will be released to consumers, making existing products Matter-enabled. As we head into the busy holiday shopping season, we’ll also see more products available on retail shelves, as the results of Matter marketing and education initiatives through global retail and consumer channels become evident.
Turning the calendar to 2024, Matter will continue to expand its footprint across the smart home, across the IoT ecosystem, and in the minds of consumers. New products will come to market, filling out existing Matter device types and being among the first in the new Matter device types debuting with Matter 1.2. We expect that Matter will receive two new updates next year as part of the bi-annual release cadence — which should add even more device types and expand into new areas.
 

Attachments

  • FINAL-Matter-1.2-Spec-Release-Graphic-01-1-1024x576[1].jpg
    FINAL-Matter-1.2-Spec-Release-Graphic-01-1-1024x576[1].jpg
    150.5 KB · Views: 83

Youtube DIY Zigbee Rain Gauge for Home Assistant (and other applications)

Rain gauges aren't anything new or high-tech, but this video does a great job showing how you can build your own using a 3D printed model, and use a ZigBee sensor to relay this data to Home Assistant. But the concept is so simple, you could easily use a Z-Wave/X10 DS10A door contact, and the concept should work with your favorite home automation application.


More details about the design can be found on his website.
 
Back
Top