Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant?
When you start with the idea of automating your home, of making it smart, the first thing you have to think about is what platform are you going to use. That is, do you want to bet on the solution offered by Amazon with Alexa, Google’s and its Google Assistant or are you more than Siri and Apple HomeKit.
Do not answer yet and think about it, because the decision you make today can mark the experience of use in the future. And although none of them is perfect, the truth is that some “catch” you more than others when it comes to being used with certain devices that are compatible or not.
Yes, you probably already guessed. Apple, with Siri and HomeKit, is the company that offers the home automation platform with more disadvantages than advantages for those who are not exclusive users of its products. If not, if you and everyone who can live at home with you make use of the company’s products, there are no problems. On the contrary, in that case it is true that HomeKit will provide a series of advantages that are very interesting and for which it is worth investing.
However, the problem of betting on HomeKit and Siri is not so much that later you have to have an iPhone, iPad or Mac, even an Apple TV to use it as an accessory center or a HomePod mini to be able to take advantage of the voice control of the assistant. Manzana; the problem is that the number of devices certified for HomeKit is not that large like those that support Alexa or Google Assistant.
Why is this a problem? Well, because the investment to achieve the same that you could achieve with Alexa or Assistant can be greater and, honestly, it is not that there is a great difference in terms of the quality of the devices. So you have to find a solution so that you can automate your home with practically any type of smart device despite not having HomeKit certification.
Homebridge to the rescue
Homebridge is an Open Source project whose purpose is none other than to allow the emulation of the HomeKit API. What does this mean? Well, basically and in short, so as not to get too technical with something that is not very important for many, what it allows is to be able to use other devices that are not certified by Apple as compatible with their platform.
That is, thanks to HomeBridge you will be able to add accessories from manufacturers that do not support Apple’s home automation solution. And that is interesting because it widens the number of products that you could use to improve the automation of your home with sensors of all kinds, lighting systems, etc.
What is good about Homebridge, because you can install it on a Windows computer, a Mac or even a Raspberry Pi among other devices. Thus, these will be in charge of acting as a bridge for those other devices that you can then control through Siri or the Home application of your Apple devices.
Interesting? We think so, because you will be able to expand your ecosystem of connected devices as much as you want and at a lower cost than just acquiring those that are certified. And beware, the installation and use of this system is not complex at all. Although you do have to take into account some previous aspects.
Minimum requirements to use Homebridge
Using Homebridge is quite simple even if you don’t have much idea about all these home automation topics, but before continuing you have to be clear about what you need to be able to use it. So here are the minimum requirements that you must meet:
- An Apple device with iOS 12 as the minimum version of the system, although you can also control accessories from your Mac with the Home application that is also included
- An Apple TV, iPad, or HomePod to use remotely over an internet connection when you’re not at home. These devices, especially the iPad, must be at home to control the devices when you are away
- A team to install Homebridge. You can do this on a PC, Mac, Raspberry Pi and even some NAS like Synology’s.
Why Homebridge on a Raspberry Pi
If all you want is to test how Homebridge works and its possibilities, then you can install it on a PC or Mac. It can be on the computers that you normally use at home for your things. If it convinces you, our recommendation is that you install this solution on a different device and one of the most suitable is the Raspberry Pi.
First, because it is a very inexpensive product in case you don’t have one. And because it will consume very little, ideal because you will have it connected 24 hours a day. So these are the reasons to install Homebridge on a Raspberry Pi it is one of the best solutions. The other would be on a Synology NAS, but you still don’t have one and acquiring one just for that (although they offer many more options) is not always the most interesting for your economy.
How to install Homebridge on a Raspberry Pi
Come on, we are already clear that we are going to install Homebridge on a Raspberry Pi. Now the question is, how do we do it? Well, we already anticipate the process that it is not as complex as you can imagine, you just have to follow a few simple steps. The first of all of them is to get the Homebridge image to install on an SD card that you will then insert into the Raspberry Pi.
If you think so, we will go step by step and give you some extra instructions. Although on the Homebridge GitHub website you will have everything in detail.
- Download Homebridge for Raspberry Pi
- Once on your hard drive, use an application like Etcher or similar to install the image on an SD or micro SD card depending on the one used by your Raspberry Pi. Ideally a Raspberry Pi 3 or higher is recommended
- Insert the SD card to the Raspberry Pi and turn it on
- Although you could use the WiFi connection of the Raspberry Pi, the ideal is that if you can connect it by ethernet cable to the router. The when you could also use to power the board with any of the USB outputs that they usually have
- Once the system has started, if you used the ethernet connection, you will not have to do anything else. If you have opted for WiFi, wait a couple of minutes and then from the device you are going to use for the configuration, search wireless networks for one called Homebridge WiFi Setup
- Once you can connect to the Homebridge web interface, the setup process begins. Of course, the access data are admin / admin for username and password. Write milestone: //homebridge.local and you will access
- If you want to connect from an iOS or Android device, download the Fing app
- Once you are inside, you will see that a QR code on screen plus a numbering at the bottom. These will be the data that will allow you to add the Raspberry Pi as a control accessory for other devices connected to HomeKit
- Open the Home application of your iOS or macOS device and tap on the + icon to add a new accessory
- Enter or scan the code to add it
- Ready, you already have your Raspberry Pi with Homebridge connected to HomeKit and the Home app
As you can see, the process is not complex at all. Beyond installing the Homebridge image on a Raspberry Pi, it is all a succession of steps that anyone can take.
Installing and configuring Homebridge plugins
With Homebridge already running on the Raspberry Pi and associated with HomeKit, the next step is to start add all those accessories that are compatible with the system and not with Apple’s home automation solution. For this, what you will have to do is install the appropriate plugin as if of onekill Alexa in question.
This is where there may be a bit more complexity, but basically it is for those who want to do very extreme things or with very unpopular devices. Being an open source project, most of the products of greatest interest allow configuration through a highly visual interface that does not involve any complications.
So now you know, this is how you can start using any device that even without being officially compatible with HomeKit can be controlled through the Home App and Siri.
*The article has been translated based on the content of https://eloutput.com/productos/domotica/raspberry-pi-homebridge-homekit/ by eloutput.com
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