FIBARO Buttons, Intercom, and Wall PlugBy - 01/24/2018
I met with FIBARO in Vegas during CES 2018 and I left excited thanks to their presented use cases that cranked the wheels of creativity.
FIBARO makes gorgeous sensors for the smart home. You can use the sensors with the FIBARO gateway or potentially add them to your own smart home hub.
What I saw demonstrated at CES was the use of FIBARO sensors with a FIBARO hub. They sell two hubs including Home Center 2 and Home Center Lite. Lite is my recommended FIBARO hub, but Lite does not mean cheap. The hub sells for $279.99.
|Home Center Lite||Home Center 2|
|Dimensions (mm)||90 x 90 x 33||225 x 185 x 44|
|Built-in Arming and Disarming|
|Processor||ARM Corex A8 720MHz||Intel Atom Dual Core 1.6GHz|
|Voice Control||Alexa, Google Assistant||Alexa, Google Assistant, Lili|
|Magic Scenes||Yes, includes FIBARO’s own If This Then That engine.|
The hubs admittedly aren’t that sexy, but what they provide is greater control over your FIBARO devices than you’ll find using the devices with other hubs including SmartThings, Vera, and Nexia. Of the FIBARO devices I saw at CES, three stood out.
1. The Button
There’s something about a giant button that brings out my inner child. As soon as I saw the bright, colorful lineup of FIBARO buttons, I started pushing and asking questions.
FIBARO sells two buttons including one that works with Z-Wave ($49.99) and another that works with HomeKit ($59.99). The Z-Wave button supports Z-Wave devices and up to six actions. For example, you can press to trigger your good morning scene, press twice to turn on a light, or press four times to disarm your home security system. The HomeKit button, on the other hand, only works with HomeKit devices and supports three actions. Other than that, the two buttons are the same.
I Bought The Button
As soon as I got home from Vegas, I jumped on Amazon and ordered The Button. It arrived just as beautiful and petite as I remembered it to be. The pairing process with my SmartThings hub was simple. I rotated the device counterclockwise to reveal the battery, pulled the tab, closed the device, set my SmartThings hub to pairing mode, and clicked the button six times. It paired. But that’s where the simplicity ended.
SmartThings found the button and labeled it as a “Z-Wave Device.” It wasn’t labeled as a button, though I renamed it “button,” and it couldn’t be used as a button. Trust me, I tried.
To use The Button as a button, I needed a custom device handler. I put The Button away because I didn’t feel like tinkering at the time. A few months later, I pulled The Button back out to try again. I’m embarrassed to admit that there was no tinkering involved. Adding a custom device handler is as easy as following directions. The directions found here, to be exact.
With The Button added as a button, it worked great. I tried several rules like pushing it to send a custom message to my phone and pushing it to turn on lights. I ended up leaving it in my friend’s vacation home for her guests to enjoy, but unfortunately found that the device’s biggest issue is longterm use. Over time, The Button loses its connection and you have to have someone present to reset it.
2. The Intercom
The FIBARO Intercom is another eye-catching device. Think of it as both an intercom and a smart doorbell that sells for $900. Big price tag, right? That’s because Intercom isn’t made to compete with devices like Ring or Skybell. Instead, the device is made for different applications, like protecting outer gates. FIBARO hopes to push this product through the custom integration channel. It also integrates directly with the DSC Security System (which happens to be the backbone for many well-known security systems including ADT).
Intercom features an illuminated dial pad. To open your door or gate, you have a few options. The easiest way is to spin it. The dial supports a 4-digit PIN code, or rather PIN codes. You can create one for your own use as well as assign a unique PIN code to your family members and others who might need access to your yard. Second, you can use your voice. Soon, Intercom will support voice biometrics. If the device recognizes your voice, it will open. Finally, you can use the mobile app.
Intercom also includes all of the usual smart doorbell features. Guests can press the device to call you. If you are home, you can talk to your guests using two-way audio and see them thanks to an integrated FHD camera. If you aren’t home, they can leave a voicemail. Recorded footage is stored to the device’s SD card and also in the cloud.
You can learn more about Intercom here.
3. Wall Plug
Of the three devices I saw demonstrated at CES 2018, the Wall Plug was the most exciting. It is just a wall plug, nothing more, but it has unique applications.
The plug is a smart plug that reads energy. No matter which hub you use, you’ll be able to quickly have a visual gage of energy consumption simply by glancing at the device. When a device isn’t pulling very much energy, the plug glows blue, when energy consumption increases, it glows violet. From the FIBARO and SmartThing’s app, you can also view power consumption. However, connecting the device to a FIBARO hub takes it to the next level.
— Rose Thibodeaux (@Rose_Thibodeaux) January 11, 2018
At CES, I was presented an interesting use case: plug your phone into the USB port (the wall plug features one on the side), plug your lamp into the same outlet and create a Good Morning rule to connect the two. When your phone is charging, it doesn’t use nearly as much energy as it does when it’s in use. In the morning when you wake up and grab your phone, energy usage spikes. That spike in energy consumption can be used as a trigger. For example, pick up your phone, your home knows you’re awake, your lamp turns on, your coffee starts brewing, your alarm system disarms, and your thermostat adjusts.
More About Energy Consumption and Final Thoughts
Using energy as a trigger translates to other devices beyond the plug. For example, you can create a rule that says, “If my Sonos speaker is idle (based on energy consumption) for more than five minutes, send a notification.” FIBARO’s notifications are interactive. In this case, it might say, “Your Sonos speaker has been idle for more than 5 minutes, would you like to turn it off?”
The focus on energy is clearly influenced by Fibaro’s European roots, but I think energy consciousness is starting to catch on stateside, as evidenced by Nest’s success. What FIBARO does is make energy consumption visible. You can see how much power your devices are consuming and take action. Better yet, you can create automations to take action on your behalf. While the potential is there, the missing link is usability.
The FIBARO hubs are fantastic, but not overly affordable or as accessible as other hubs. And right now, what the individual FIBARO sensors can do when connected to a FIBARO hub versus a SmartThings hub versus some other Z-Wave hub is not immediately apparent. The disconnect extends to the app experience too. One of the most significant hurdles one might face when working on creating energy consumption rules is the creation process. Using the FIBARO app, you simply drag and drop. The FIBARO hub rule creation process is more straightforward than any rule I’ve ever created using the SmartThings app. That said, I’m a SmartThings users. I’m looking forward to FIBARO’s promise of a better partnership with SmartThings and certainly hope that their energy saving features soon extend to other hubs outside their own.