Mixtile Hub: An Internet Independent Hub with E2EEBy - 01/26/2018
Last year, in the middle of the busy CES season, we covered Mixtile, a smart home hub with a pretty ambitious goal. It aimed to connect non-HomeKit-enabled Z-Wave and Zigbee devices with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem. Mid-2017, they nixed the HomeKit-bridge feature but not the project. Fast forward several months and the upgraded Mixtile hub is almost ready for primetime.
Mixtile Isn’t Just Another Hub
At first glance, Mixtile may seem like just another smart home hub, but if you look closer, it has features that make it unique. The hardware, for example, has enough processing power to process everything locally without help from the cloud. It’s equipped with a 1.2GHz Quad-Core Cortex A7 processor, 1GB DDR3 RAM, and 8GB of internal storage. To compare, the SmartThings hub can also run locally, but it can only run select automation scenes. With Mixtile, all automation scenes are run locally.
It Works Locally
The advantage of local processing is that Mixtile will work even without an internet connection. And by extension, without power, thanks to its built-in 2,500mAh rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery backup. For example, if you have an automation scene setup to sound a siren if motion is detected, it will continue to run without power and internet. However, take note that some features will not work without power or internet. For example, you can’t control connected devices with your smartphone if you’re outside your home network. Doing so requires a cloud connection between your phone and Mixtile. If you’re at home, however, you can still use your phone to control your devices so long as it’s connected to the same router as Mixtile, even if the router isn’t connected to the internet.
Another advantage of local processing is that it helps you preserve your privacy. Data from sensors and devices remain onsite, eliminating the risks of exposing your home’s private data to the cloud.
Unfortunately, Mixtile still needs to transmit data to the cloud now and then. The good news is that it uses two layers of encryption, which is another thing that sets it apart from the competition. The first layer of encryption is SSL, a standard encryption method used by many smart home devices. The second layer is E2EE or end-to-end encryption, a much more secure encryption method. Apple HomeKit uses E2EE, which is why their HomeKit ecosystem is almost impenetrable to privacy breaches. With E2EE, only two devices can decrypt transmitted data. In Mixtile’s case, only the hub and your phone. Even if the data gets stolen or intercepted while being transmitted, it will remain private because only your phone and the hub can read what’s inside.
It Has a Voice Assistant
Finally, another thing that makes Mixtile unique is the built-in AI voice assistant. Unlike Alexa and Google Assistant, Mixtile’s AI runs locally, so you can use it even while your internet is down. The disadvantage is that it’s not as feature-rich as Alexa or Google Assistant, given that Mixtile’s onboard processing ability is limited when compared to Amazon or Google’s massive cloud processing.
The assistant probably won’t be able to understand natural speech, but you should be able to perform basic smart home control with your voice such as turning on lights and arming sensors. That said, if you need more voice control features, Mixtile has developed an Alexa Skill so that you can ask Alexa to control Mixtile-connected devices. Of course, you’ll need a separate Alexa-enabled device such as Echo, Spot, Show, Dot, etc.
Mixtile Offers More Of The Same
Aside from the things mentioned above, Mixtile’s other features are typical. As a hub, it can connect to and control most devices that operate using a Zigbee HA frequency including smart lights, locks, power outlets, cameras, thermostats, security sensors, and more. It also supports Bluetooth Low Energy. Additionally, Mixtile has been tested to be compatible with major smart home brands such as Philips Hue, D-Link, Yale, Aqara, and Xiaomi.
Z-Wave support is also a possibility, but it’s optional. If you want to use both Zigbee and Z-Wave, Mixtile will send you a Hub that supports both protocols, but it will set you back another $10 (for now; prices may change after the IndieGoGo campaign ends).
Aside from third-party devices, Mixtile works with a set of sensors called the Mixtile Starter Kit. The kit includes a contact sensor, motion sensor, water leak sensor, climate sensor, and smart outlet.
There are several ways to control Mixtile-connected devices. First, you can use the companion smartphone app. It serves as a control center for the entire Mixtile system. Using the app, you can monitor your devices’ status, control them, create automation scenes, and receive notifications. Second, as mentioned earlier, you can use your voice to control Mixtile. Simply ask the hub to turn on lights or lock doors, and it will do it for you. Finally, you can monitor Mixtile using your TV thanks to Mixtile’s HDMI port. For example, if you have connected cameras, you can stream your feed to your TV. Controlling Mixtile while plugged into your TV, however, still requires the use of your smartphone.
Finally, Mixtile has taken a page from SmartThings in that it has an open framework. If you’re a developer, you can customize your Mixtile Hub to add features and functionalities.
Is Mixtile Ready For Primetime?
The answer is no, and the biggest reason why is because it’s not yet available. Mixtile is currently being crowdfunded on Indiegogo. If the campaign is a success, the hub will start shipping to backers by April 2018.
Currently, SmartThings is my top recommended smart home hub. It’s tested, it’s open to integrations, and it has an awesome community of users and developers. However, Mixtile also offers interesting features, such as local processing, end-to-end encryption, and built-in voice control. These are all things I think can help bring Mixtile to the same level as SmartThings. The only question now is, Will Mixtile be able to build what they promised?
If you’re interested in Mixtile, you can help it become a reality by backing their Indiegogo campaign. With a pledge as low as $89 you will receive one Mixtile Hub, or you can upgrade it to include Z-Wave support by adding $10 to your pledge. You can also pre-order a starter kit that includes a water leak sensor, climate sensor, motion sensor, contact sensor, and smart outlet for $69 (hub not included) or $159 (hub included).
Photo Credit: Mixtile