Let’s face it: nello one might be quite smart on its own but it’s definitely not enough for you to be able to call your residence a Smart Home. It takes a bit more, starting with Smart Locks and adaptive lights all the way down to smart feeding bowls (not making this up).
To manage all these gadgets in a concise manner is the task of so called Smart Hubs. They collect all your smart devices in one place. That allows a more simple and structured handling, circumventing the need to change between dozens of apps.
In this blog post we would like to introduce you to Homebridge.
Homebridge is one of these Smart Hubs and we give you a brief overview on how to synchronize nello with it. But first of all, we would like to give a huge shout-out to Lukas Rögner. Not only did he create the implementation of the nello API into Homebridge all on his, he also made it available for the public AND documented the entire thing extremely well. Thank you so much, Lukas, we owe you.
There is a small fly in the ointment: Homebridge is only available for iOS devices. The reason for this is that Homebridge is nothing else but an expansion to Apple’s own Smart Hub HomeKit. Getting implemented in HomeKit itself is a rather lengthy and tedious process which is also why we did not have the time yet to get it done. But it’s these very cases that Homebridge exists for. And it’s also why the developers refer to it as “HomeKit support for the impatient”. In short, the idea is to have an interface between all the gadgets not yet officially supported and the “Home” app on iOS. The latter one will be precisely where all the gadgets will be managed in the end.
Homebridge requires a computer that it can run on.
Nick Farina wrote some fantastic guides on the installation of Homebridge on various operating systems. We used them ourselves and can only recommend them to you.
For testing purposes we used a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B.
To integrate nello in Homebridge you need – aside from a nello, of course – a user account and access to our public API. You will get the latter by registering here. We recommend setting up an all new account for Homebridge. Just open the app, go to the “User” tab and click the “+” icon. Please remember to give this new user administrative rights. All other steps are documented in Lukas Rögner’s GitHub repository. The configurations mentioned therein are additions to the file “config.json”. You will learn about this file soon enough when following the links above concerning the general installation of Homebridge.
If all went well you should now see two new gadgets in the Home app: The first one being the door opener and the second, depending on the installation, is either a motion sensor (which just means the doorbell) or a camera. You will be able to open the door and get notifications when someone rang your doorbell as usual, only this time not from the nello app but from the Home app. Please keep in mind that time windows and Homezone Unlock are still regulated by the nello app and that notifications might have to be switched on first in the Home app.
We did not yet test the addition of cameras but apart from that we can safely say:
It works like a charm. : )
Going forward, we would like to connect nello to many more Smart Hubs. Be sure to give this blog a glimpse every now and then. We’ll tell you when we have implemented your favorite Smart Hub as well. Until then we hope you enjoy Homebridge and this little write-up. If you have any questions we are happy to answer them – either via app chat or mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.