About two years ago, I developed a C# application for work that allows a Windows PC to talk directly to a Hue light bulb over the ZigBee HA protocol. My app changed the bulb’s color based on a
user’s presence information in Microsoft Lync (Skype for
business). If the user was busy, the Hue bulb would be
red; if they were available, it would be green, etc.
This project opened my eyes to what is possible when
a device is connected to the Internet of Things (Io T). I
created this application without any documentation on the
Hue bulb. I simply queried the bulb for its capabilities.
When asked, the bulb responds back with “I’m a light and
I can be turned on or off, my brightness can be changed,
and you can change my color.” The device tells me what it
can do and how to talk to it!! This is all built into the
ZigBee Home Automation public profile.
I couldn’t believe how well designed this was, and
read everything I could get my hands on about ZigBee
and home automation. I purchased and played around
with a few home automation hubs trying to get a feel for
how I could use them to control my devices, only to be
disappointed on how closed they were. Then, it
happened. A dream come true.
I stumbled across a young startup: Smart Things. A
home automation platform built for developers from the
ground up. They have a cloud-based development
environment that allows you to create smart apps and
custom device types to talk to, and ... wait for it ... yes,
I’m a device maker at heart. What I mean is I love to create dedicated
microcontroller solutions that communicate with the real world. Some of my
devices have turned into commercial products, but most don’t and my wife ends
up enjoying them around the house. Well, I’m not so sure “enjoy” is the correct
term … maybe tolerates would be more appropriate.
By John Rucker
Post comments on
this article and find
any associated files
and/or downloads at
January 2016 35