Choice Computer Magazine Review
What the connected home really needs is a smart hub that can tie together all the plug-in home automation gadgets and appliances that use competing standards and don’t talk to each other. That’s where the new B.One Hub comes in.
It aims to make sense of the confusing dog’s breakfast of competing standards, protocols and apps that currently make up the DIY home automation market. But can it really be one hub to rule them all, and save you a heap on energy costs in the process?
Saving energy is where the company behind B.One Hub, Adelaide based Accumulus Energy Group (AEG), sees the big potential of the device. AEG CEO Anup Raghavan says cost savings start immediately because you don’t have to leave your household appliances on standby, which still uses power that adds up over the course of a year across many devices. He says that in an average well-connected home the B.One Hub could well pay for itself within a year because these IoT (internet of things) gadgets are always on and connected to your network, awaiting a signal to act. The hub gives you control over these devices from wherever you are, via the B.One smartphone app.
The B.One Hub can also consolidate all the remote controls in the home into one app, giving you a convenient single point of control. This includes home security devices, lighting, watering systems, TV and entertainment systems, smart appliances and many other home automation devices.
The B.One Hub made its debut at the US-based Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January and is available in Australia now, but Raghavan says it’s still growing in capabilities.
There are two hubs: B.One, which supports Bluetooth Plus, Z-Wave Plus, Wi-Fi (2.4GHz), IR (infra-red), and GSM/GPRS. The B.One Elite model has all these and adds the Zigbee protocol. Raghavan says Apple HomeKit, which requires a special chip, will be available later.
We had a hands-on look at the B.One, supplied by AEG, to get a feel for their vision of the Australian connected home. AEG also supplied a B.One motion sensor and smart sensor (for doors, cupboards and windows) but not the B.One wireless siren, which makes up the starter kit.
We found the B.One easy to set up with its accessories, which worked well. We had less success with a LIFX smart bulb but it’s early days yet for off-the- shelf user-installable home automation in Australia. That’s why AEG is starting distribution through just a couple of trained suppliers who can offer in-home set-up to get you started, as an optional but recommended extra. A starter kit with B.One hub, wireless siren, two smart sensors and two motion sensors will set you back $1150 or you can buy the devices individually. We’re planning a full comparative test of smart hubs, including the B.One, later this year.