Welcome to the January edition of the Open Home newsletter, the place to learn about the latest and greatest things for your smart home that improve its privacy, choice, and sustainability.
The Open Home newsletter is written by Paulus Schoutsen, founder of Home Assistant and Nabu Casa. Was this email forwarded to you? Subscribe here!
Two weeks ago was the first time that I attended the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas. It's a convention where companies show new devices, present plans (that never materialize), and make bold (and untrue) claims. We didn't have a booth for Home Assistant, but instead, I went there to meet people.
I expected it to be just a few meetings, but I ended up doing two days of 12 hours of meetings, oof 😱. CES is spread out over multiple convention halls, but thanks to my schedule, I never even left the Venetian. I didn't see a single transparent TV or car that could drive sideways.
One of the things that became clear from talking to people is that they don't understand Home Assistant. They try to put it in their framework of how the world works. There must be a company, an engineering group, and a long-term strategic plan to grow the business. Or maybe we are more like an influencer on YouTube that would do anything for money as long as their followers tolerate it, right? NOPE.
Home Assistant is created by a group of 17.000 volunteers with 30 people full-time staff to support and lead the organization. It's created because we believe in a home that is about privacy, choice, and sustainability. We want to build it for ourselves and for others, and it is not for sale. You can download it for free and run it the way you want.
There is something very liberating about having an organization without investors, one that only has to satisfy its users without any ulterior motives. In its 5.5 years of existence, only one person has ever left their full-time position working on Home Assistant.
Luckily, at CES, I also had some great conversations with companies that want to integrate (more) with Home Assistant. These companies realize that users will have other things besides their products in their houses and that those things need to work together.
But then there were also some odd conversations. Someone lectured me that we are not the only ones building an open-source Z-Wave implementation with Z-Wave JS. There is another one; you just need to pay thousands of dollars per year to access it. Then there was the engineering lead who got quiet and looked a little nervous when I told his boss that if they add support for Matter, they could save millions a year by getting rid of their mobile app developers, their cloud, and related ongoing costs and their users would love them for it.
Contest: Build your own voice assistant and win Home Assistant prizes
Last year was Home Assistant's Year of the Voice with the goal of allowing users to control Home Assistant in their own language. The goal has been achieved, and this year, the voice team is focused on improving the user experience to make it accessible to a wider audience.
Last year, we laid the foundation for voice assistants. This year, we want to start by giving the community the opportunity to showcase what can be built on top of this foundation. And what better way to do this than by hosting a contest?
The contest will accept submissions until March 15, 2024. Prizes are Home Assistant Green, Home Assistant SkyConnect and you get an opportunity to join one of our live streams to talk about your achievement. More information below:
State of Matter
Matter has been out since November 2022, and with Home Assistant, we've been following closely along. With Nabu Casa, we're a member of the CSA alliance (which makes Zigbee and Matter) and help move the standard forward.
We wanted to start 2024 fresh and hosted a "The State of Matter" stream. In as little as 2.5 hours (😅), the team walks through all the things Matter is capable of, what we're still struggling with, and what we're doing to improve it.
If you're looking for a text version, we have a summary on our blog and are incorporating parts of it into our Matter documentation.
Home Assistant 2024.1 makes it easier to automate
With Home Assistant, we release a new version every month of the year. Traditionally, the first release has been a smaller one. But what does small even mean if you're the 2nd most active open-source project in the world?
This release makes it easier to add things to your automations. The options have been cleaned up, reorganized, and enhanced with descriptions.
This release also brought further improvements to to-do lists and introduced a new valve type, among many other enhancements. For the full rundown, check out the release notes below:
The Home Assistant interface is not exactly toddler friendly, so Gregory decided to make his own for his daughter: Home Assistot.
Evolution of Android Auto
We had a nice little surprise during CES - guess what appeared in Google's Evolution of Android Auto video?
In other news
- Google strips their assistant from more features and employees working on it. It's all AI from now on, baby! Google is quickly closing the feature gap with Home Assistant's Assist. (Jess Weatherbed, The Verge)
- Amazon is cooking up a "Remarkable Alexa" powered by AI and a subscription. Politics and technology struggles seem to be haunting the project, causing it to be delayed. (Eugene Kim, Business Insider)
- Ring will no longer give your video footage to the police without a warrant. Yep, this was a thing. Oh, and they still do it without user consent if they consider it an emergency. (Matthew Guariglia, Electronic Frontier Foundation)
- Pre-orders for Vision Pro are live. No, you shouldn't need a $4000 device on your face to control your smart home. But yes, you will be able to use the Home Assistant companion app. (Apple)
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