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Setup a Smarter Home with Mycroft AI

By November 20, 2019 No Comments

The number of smart devices around the world has exploded over the last few years. Everything from a smart bulb to internet connected coffee machines. With Mycroft, we finally have a simple way to control all these devices using your voice.

Got your hands full of shopping, stumbling in the dark trying to find the switch, or just snuggled up in bed and dont want to get up? Mycroft is the answer.

One of the benefits of Mycroft is that we are not tied into any one ecosystem. Whether you have a couple of LIFX lights or your house is a decked out with a range of IoT devices, Mycroft has got you covered.

First Steps – Lights

The simplest introduction to the Smart Home world are light bulbs. They require minimal setup, can often continue being used as normal lights, but provide a range of new possibilities.

LIFX is a great starter option

The bulbs are slightly more expensive than other brands, however do not require any additional hubs or bridges. You take out the traditional bulb, insert the LIFX bulb and open their app.

Once you have setup your bulbs, the Mycroft side is just as simple. Say “Hey Mycroft, install LIFX”, and you will be asked to confirm the installation. The LIFX Skill will automatically detect any LIFX products on your network so you can start interacting with them straight away.

One important tip when getting setup is the naming of your lights. You want to select names that are unique and easily pronounced. For example, “Dining table” is much better than “DT01”.

Other Options

Skills also exist for other brands such as Philips Hue. This Skill is not currently in the Mycroft Marketplace, so must be installed using the command line.

Any Skill from Github can be installed using the terminal command:
mycroft-msm install https://github.com/author/skill-repo

Note: Skills not installed from the Mycroft Skills Marketplace have not been reviewed by our Skills Management Team, and are installed at your own risk.

Taking it to the Next Level

Lights are one thing, but the promise of a truly Smart Home includes entertainment, thermostats, locks, sensors and more. Thankfully there are a number of existing projects that we can tap into.

Hey Mycroft, install Mozilla Webthings Gateway

Our friends at Mozilla have recently released their own service, specifically designed to run on low-powered hardware like the Raspberry Pi or a network router. Whilst it’s the newest of the bunch, it has quickly established itself as an easy, intuitive, yet powerful option. Just take a look at their Six Step Getting Started Guide.

Hey Mycroft, install Home Assistant

For a more established option with strong support for a broad range of devices, try Home Assistant. This can be installed on anything from a Raspberry Pi, through to a Synology DiskStation. Check out their site to get started.

Once you have Home Assistant up and running, head to your Account Profile and create a long-lived-access-token. Install the Mycroft Skill, and head to your Mycroft Skill settings. Enter your long-lived-access-token along with the IP address and port number of your Home Assistant server.

Hey Mycroft, install Wink

Wink is a commercial offering, it’s going to cost you the most to get started, but with cost comes support. This is great for people who don’t want to setup their own server.

If you have a Wink account already, just say “Hey Mycroft, install Wink”, then enter your Wink account details in the Skill settings.

Other Options

There are a number of other options that our Community have built, and are used daily. These are not currently in the Mycroft Marketplace so the same warning applies. These have not been formally reviewed by our Skill Testing Team. However each has their own niche, and still worth checking out.

FHEM

FHEM is a GPL’d perl server, great for automation, and generally geared toward a more technical audience. At least in our Community it seems particularly popular in Germany.

OpenHAB

OpenHAB is probably the longest standing project, so has great support for devices and is intended for a less technical audience. It’s a great DIY option with an easy on-ramp.

Domiticz

Finally, Domiticz is intended to be a less resource intensive alternative and runs inside Raspbian, so might be a good option if you want it to run alongside other software on a Raspberry Pi. The downside is that it doesn’t yet support as many different devices as the other options we have listed.

Mycroft is About Choice

Whether you are a dedicated fan of a single service, or someone that likes to try everything out, Mycroft has got you covered.

We believe in the freedom to choose and the freedom to move. You shouldn’t be locked into one companies ecosystem because you bought one or more devices from them, and those devices should not be rendered unusable if the company goes bankrupt or just decides to end support.

If you want to keep your options open and stay in control, choose Mycroft!