Happy 2023! 🥂 It's a new year, it has only just started and the contributors are busy. It's going to be a great year for the Open Home. We're working on Matter, Voice, and a revamp of the Home Assistant UI.
Talking about voice, the first live stream to talk and demonstrate voice will be happening on January 26 @ YouTube: Year of the Voice - Chapter 1. We hope to see you there.
Home Assistant expands the calendar
The January release of Home Assistant was yet another great one. A lot of our community members were on a winter break and had time to hack on new features. For example, thanks to Allen you can now create recurring events in your local calendar. This will make automating garbage pick-up day a breeze!
This release also includes a fun new feature by Tronikos that allows Home Assistant to talk to Google. Powered by the Google Assistant SDK, Home Assistant can let Google process any sentence that you would normally say to your Google Home. This allows you to broadcast messages or control devices that only Google can control, like Nest Guard (which really should just have an actual API 😡).
For more good stuff, check the Home Assistant 2023.1 release notes.
Home Approval Factor
We have a large community. We are the 2nd most active open source project and our website, forums and Reddit are visited by millions of people. Our community evolves around helping people get the most of their homes. This can mean helping people save energy, pick lights or get a notification if they leave the garage door open.
To keep the Home Assistant community open and welcoming to all, we have a Code of Conduct and a great moderator team. Running a community that anyone on the internet can join is hard, but we think that we're doing a good job. Sometimes however, we get reminded that we can and should do better.
One of those reminders was posted on Reddit last week by /u/mmakes, a well respected member of our community known for her epic themes and e-ink projects. It was a well-written post about the impact of jokes about women and tech in our community. I am replicating parts of it below:
It can be hurtful to be in the expense of the jokes and cheap laughs and it is frankly demoralizing to feel like the community does not seem to respect people of my gender. I do not make jokes about my partners (of any gender). Hearing about jokes such as "haha my wife does not use HA" is not exactly different from working in a room of male developers as a sole woman listening to them joking about users who are women. Humor in its highest form takes the air out of those stereotypes and helps confront stereotypes not enforce them. This is not to say there shall be no jokes whatsoever, but it would be nice to consider empathy when making such jokes. These types of posts pop up often enough every week or two or so that it becomes unwelcoming to users who want to join in the discussions.
As a fairly established UX designer and also frontend developer, I'd highly recommend those who met resistance in adopting HA in their house to learn a bit about their users to find out what the pain points really are. A lack of user usage uptake is often a problem of the product owner, not the users
I want to re-emphasize that the Home Assistant community is there for everyone. We are not "just for men" because "only men love tech". Whoever you are, you should feel comfortable hanging out in our community, learning, sharing and making your home a nicer and private place.
One of the things we have done as a community to improve on this, but one that bears reminding, is phase out the term "Wife Approval Factor". Isabelle explained at the Home Assistant Conference in 2020 why the term is outdated and is missing the point. It is not who needs to approve something (partner, guests, pets), it should be about what is being approved: your home. So as Madelena coined it: Home Approval Factor.
Home Assistant Yellow goes open source
Home Asisstant Yellow is our take on a home automation hub. It's powered by a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 and comes pre-installed with Home Assistant.
The Power-over-Ethernet versions of the Home Assistant Yellow Kit are finally shipping! The first 2500 kits are being shipped to customers as we speak. This covers all people that ordered during the original crowdfunding campaign + some of the pre-orders that came after. The 2nd batch is already on the way to Mouser's warehouse and can hopefully ship out next month.
Building a device that is powered over Ethernet and getting it's emissions within allowable limits was a bigger challenge than we anticipated, but we made it 💪 Big thanks to Stefan Agners and Dominik Sliwa.
We spend a lot of time and resources on getting our products to work great. We want to make it possible for other people to study our work and be able to learn how to make great products for the smart home, so we're releasing the schematics of Yellow as open-source.
More Home Assistant SkyConnect are on the way
We've released our own Zigbee stick: Home Assistant SkyConnect. The first batch sold out quickly and the second batch will be available at distributors any day now.
What makes the Home Assistant SkyConnect special is that we're working on a feature to allow it to do both Zigbee and Thread at the same time (this feature will also come to Home Assistant Yellow). This will allow you to control both your Matter and your Zigbee network with a single stick. We hope to re-launch it as an opt-in experiment soon. Stay tuned.
Lego Train using ESPHome with Lego Power Functions
Want to level up your LEGO trains with home automation? Travis did a great write up on how to connect it to ESPHome and get it into Home Assistant.
Entertain your kids with this DIY Jukebox
Cello shared a tutorial on how he created his own jukebox that allows his kids to play their own music.
Home Assistant plugin for Emacs
Control your Home Assistant directly from Emacs thanks to this plugin by Ben. Available on GitHub.
Epic new year automation
I know we're past new year, but let this epic countdown automation be an inspiration for next year!
Other noteworthy news
- Shelly announced a smart smoke alarm at CES. 2023 starts off great, finally a smoke alarm with a local API. (Jennifer Pattison Tuohy, The Verge)
- Apple brings back the HomePod (the big one). It looks the same as it's discontinued predecessor and the price is still excessive ($300) for the smartness that it can do (not much). It did get Thread support to connect thread-enabled Matter devices. (Brenda Stolyar, Wired)