Voice is the differentiator

The voice assistant wars have begun and we have few large contenders:

  1. Apple’s Siri
  2. Amazon Alexa
  3. Google Assistant
  4. Microsoft Cortana

I’m particularly interested in the ability for these voice assistants to be integrated with IOT devices. At the point of this writing, I have managed to integrate Siri with my home automation system. In the coming weeks, I will be exploring integration with Google home, Alexa and even Cortana..

My findings so far is that voice is a huge differentiator for usability, imagine just speaking a command to turn on the lights, this is way easier than having to pull out the mobile phone, navigate to the app, open the app, search for the control and finally tapping on the relevant “On” button.

In coming week, I plan to review each platform and list the pro and cons of each.

Wifi WPA2, is possibly compromised

UPDATE (17 Oct 2017): Microsoft Windows and Apple iOS/MacOS have already offered patches to this vulnerability in their respective platforms. So aside from Android devices and IOT devices, it looks like this is pretty much contained.

WIFI WPA2  (WIFI protected access) the security setting most routers are currently running on, is possibly compromised.

Based on a 4 way handshake system, this security system has secured our WIFI airwaves for the past 18 years. But now, a “key reinstallation hack” has possibly broken this and now most devices including IOTs, smartphones and routers are exposed to data loss.

The MiTM (Man in The Middle) attack will expose data in transit like your passwords, secured data and anything sent in plain text over a compromised connection.

If you connect over HTTPS, your content are still fully protected from snooping.

Attackers cannot snoop or eavesdrop on your data without being nearby.

So recommendations are as follows:

  1. Update your devices with security patches
  2. Connect over HTTPS wherever possible

More information about this hack can be found here.

Completed Gate Control using Apple Siri

Got the assistance of SinChew Alarm Technicians to isolate and trace the trigger for each of the side and main gate. I returned to build an interface for the control of these gates.

I programmed the unit to respond to Siri commands:

“Open/Close the main gate” and

“Open the side gate” (since you’ll need to manually close the side gate after entry.

Check out the videos for the completed project.

Siri enabled dining lights

Just installed my dining lights and the results are amazing! The house is finally looking more complete. The open wall area is gonna feature a painting, it will be a collaboration with my wife :D, more on that when we complete it.

In the meantime, this dining light joins my stable of Siri enabled devices, again, built from the ground up. The architecture I chose was:

SmartDevice → MQTT→ HomeAssistant → HomeBridge → Siri

The SmartDevice is built from an ESP8266 chip.

Wemos ESP32 demo

#excited to receive the #ESP32 with #OLED in the mail today.. did a quick update to #firmware to show simple #OLED functions.

The OLED display is sharp and easily readable. Can’t wait to test out BLE and WIFI capabilities!

Lego WIFI autonomous tank

DIY #Lego WIFI enabled autonomous tank

MQTT controlled vehicle. Vehicle unit is subscribed to topics to move and turn.. The 3 button controller on the right publishes MQTT commands to the subscribed topics.

I'm powering the unit using a portable charger. Gives almost an hour of fun!

Making the Creative IKEA Gottgora Light talk Siri

The completed Siri enabled IKEA Gottgora Creative Light (approx. 3 hours of assembly and programming)

Click here for PART 1 of the making of this Gottgora Night light

I started the project with a quick scope out of the requirements.

  1. Needs to talk MQTT to join my home automation network
  2. Chose ESP8266 as controller for WIFI
  3. Also needs homebridge to enable commands with Siri
  4. A simple enclosure to make the project usable and visually appealing

Some parts and progress of the build:

Left to right: Project box, USB mini cable, ESP8266 with relay, push button switch, power socket female, male

Assembled parts in box:

Once assembled, the firmware was uploaded into the ESP8266 and the home automation hardware was reset to recognize the new component.

So now, all you need to say is “Hey Siri, turn on corner light!”, and the nightlight is now complete!

Thank you for reading..