Assisting the Open Home
4 min read

Assisting the Open Home

Assisting the Open Home

It's the end of February, time for another roundup of the latest and greatest things for your smart home that improve its privacy, choice and durability.

This month felt like a catch-up month. A lot of projects like Matter, performance tuning and Voice are ongoing. Some things can already be experienced but the best is still ahead of us.

Year of the Voice - Chapter 1

2023 is the Year of the Voice for Home Assistant and it kicked it off last month with Chapter 1: Assist. It's been a great start and community contributions have been out of this world: 22 contributed languages at launch!

Home Assistant's Year of the Voice has as goal to allow people to control their home in their own language. With Chapter 1 the team wanted to create a foundation that was already somewhat usable. This will allow the community to start playing with it, extending it and discover new use cases.

The team focused on "Assist", a Home Assistant feature to process natural language. For voice input it relies on Android watches, Apple watches and Siri. The natural language processing is, as one expects from the Open Home, extendable with your own sentences.

Read the full Chapter 1 announcement here.

Natural language doesn't have to be limited to just voice. Paul came up with a blueprint that allows you to create calendar events with automations based in natural language.

Import Blueprint
Screenshot of a calendar with automations
Put your automations in your calendar

Zigbee interference caused by USB 3.0

A lot of users build their smart home around a Raspberry Pi. It's quite popular to expand the storage using an external hard drive connected to the Raspberry Pi via USB 3. What most users don't know is that USB 3 causes enormous interference with any Zigbee device or stick that comes close, to a point that it no longer works.

Gabriela recently joined the Nabu Casa team as a technical documentation writer and has been focusing on documentation to help users avoid common pitfalls like these. She updated the documentation for the Home Assistant SkyConnect including this 30 second video that shows how bad the issue is:

Want to help fund development of the Open Home? Join Home Assistant Cloud by Nabu Casa. It funds the Open Home and supports the development of Home Assistant, ESPHome, Z-Wave JS and much more.

mnCast: open alternative to Chromecast Audio

Last year we teamed up with Raspiaudio, a DIY audio company, and did a whole event about audio for the Open Home. Their ESP32-based products run Squeezelite-ESP32, an open source firmware that supports playing audio via AirPlay, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth (and fully supported by Home Assistant!).

Overview of the mnCast

They just introduced a new product that is worth mentioning: mnCast. Instead of containing a speaker itself, it contains an 3.5mm audio jack and mini-TOSLINK connector. This allows you to turn your existing receiver into the backbone of audio for your open home.

MnCast on Amazon (affiliate link)

Community highlights

ESP32 E-Paper Weather Display

Luke created a beautiful e-paper weather display with source code and instructions available on their GitHub.

Blueprint: Notify when Zigbee/Zwave/any battery device has gone offline
Explanation This blueprint will alert you when any of your Zigbee or Zwave battery powered devices have fallen off the network, aka gone “Unavailable”. It is not necessary to specify a list of devices to check, as this template draws heavily from the excellent work of Sbyx, who came up with the id…

Neapolitan pizza dough calculator for Home Assistant

Ever wanted to make pizza and needed to calculate the exact recipe? Look no further than this pizza dough calculator for Home Assistant by smeen89.

Indoor garden status monitoring

Sam wanted to keep an eye on their indoor garden and got the job done with ESPHome and an M5StickC-Plus. Configuration available on their GitHub.

Guy Sie' Home Assistant setup (2023 edition)

If you're looking for inspiration or just want to look at pretty pictures, check out Guy's overview of his Home Assistant setup.

Other noteworthy news

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