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Home & Away

Last year, Google announced that it would add a Home & Away feature in their Google Assistant. This feature already existed in the Google Nest thermostat, but Google decided to focus more on their Home App. Last July they finally released this feature and gradually the Home & Away Routines are now rolling out to the Google Home App.

To give you an idea, Google highlights the following use cases which can be set during the setup process:

  • Automatic use eco temperatures when everyone leaves

  • Turn on the light when someone comes home

  • Turn off your indoor cameras when a home member comes home

The nice thing about this feature is that it can use multiple sensors to determine when someone is at home or not. You could simply use a motion sensor in a room to detect presence, but you will find out that this solution, using a single data source, is not bulletproof and soon experience false positives and/or false negatives.

With the Google Home & Away function you can use the smartphones of all residents to determine whether someone is at home or not. The mobile and Wi-Fi data is used to determine whether you have exceeded a virtual geofence perimeter around your home address. Not only smartphones but also other data sources such as device sensors on the Nest Guard, Secure Tag, Thermostats, Protect (Wired) and Yale Lock can be used to determine if someone is at home.

The more sensors you add to the Home & Away feature, the more accurate the algorithm can make the decision using data fusion.

But as always such off-the-shelf solutions have their limits. You can only use the sensors that are supported in the supplier's ecosystem and a limited number of pre-defined use cases are supported. The dominant players in this field, such as Amazon, Google and Apple, are unlikely to support each other.

In my book theconnectedhouse 2.0 one of the automation recipes deals with the Home & Away feature. It uses 'open source' components that enable you to achieve the same as the Google Home & Away feature does but without any constraints, giving you complete freedom which sensors you want to include and which use-case you want to support.

If you would like to know more about how to create your own Home & Away function or are interested in one of the other recipes in my book, you can pre-register via the link below.

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