It apparently utilizes mesh networking to determine, using just three or four units, motion anywhere in the home. The units plug into wall outlets, thereby losing the need for batteries (yay!). And it differentiates between humans, pets, fans etc. If it could be integrated with ST, it might be a superior choice to any of the usual motion sensors.
Aura is interesting, and it’s in its second generation now. Compatibility with SmartThings would be limited to the IFTTT service for now.
This would be very expensive to use for just a motion sensor, about $300, so it will depend on exactly how you want to use it.
The technology is based on evaluating disruptions in a proprietary 2.4 gigahertz Mesh as something moves around the room. So yet another communication protocol in an already crowded band.
Distinguishing between pets and people is based entirely on the mass of the animal. So if you have a 60 pound kid and a 60 pound dog, the system is going to see them as the same.
The marketing is a little deceptive because it has things like “tell me when Jake gets home from school” which it can’t really do. It can just tell you that there was movement and then you have to depend on the person using the app to check in.
The initial marketing concept for this is that you would be able to cover an entire apartment with one device and you would use it as a kind of security system, to notify you that there have been motion when you weren’t home. Then they expanded it elder care monitoring with the idea of the inverse: getting notified if there hadn’t been movement at a time of day when you expected there to be.
Since then, they’ve tried to work it into home automation use cases, but the problem is if you want to limit the detection down to just one room, you actually need more Devices in order to pinpoint the location, so, like I said, it could get pretty expensive.
I’d also like to see more consumer reviews on it.
I think the AI part of it is in the cloud based on early blogger reviews.
CNET calls it " an expensive security gimmick", fun to use, but not really a competitor for existing systems.
The cost has come down since then, but I’m still seeing the primary best fit use case as intrusion alert security for a small apartment.
The current Black Friday offer is $297 for the starter kit (base unit and one sensor) plus two additional sensors.
Certainly it is pricey compared to other motion sensors, and I got immediately the limitations you mention. But I can see where, in a good implementation, it could be a useful replacement for, say, the ST motion sensors and the Ecobee presence sensors.
It’s all going to come down to exactly how you want to use it. You won’t be able to limit the detection zone on this or it won’t work properly., So like I said, I can certainly see it as a possibility for a detection of an intruder in a small apartment when you yourself are not home. Then it might even be cost-effective. But it’s not going to work well to tell you that there was movement in the kitchen but not in the dining room next-door, because that’s just not how it works. So for things like having the lights come on because of motion, this technology is not going to match up well without spending a lot of money on extra devices for each room, something you don’t have to do with PIR motion sensors because they don’t detect through walls.
The reason why PIR motion sensors are so popular for home automation is exactly this reason: they have essentially the same concept of a room as a person does. And you can use various methods to limit the detection zone if you want a smaller zone.
I’m not saying the aura is a bad device, I’m just saying I don’t see it as a replacement for most of the motion sensors people are using for home automation use cases. But it could work well for some of the security use cases.
I do have some concerns about potential interference with zigbee because it’s in the same band. But we will just have to wait and see on that one.