ENGEN: Z-Wave Lighting Solution


(Jim Hillegass) #1

We’ve built a new Z-Wave controller called Engen.

http://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index.php/board,48.0.html

It runs on Windows, Mac, or Linux and works with a Z Stick or equivalent.

It can run on anything from a Raspberry Pi to a powerful server.

It works without the Internet.

The Engen server has a web server built in, so anything that runs a browser can control it by using its HTML5 web app. .

The introductory price is $20 and it has a 30 day trial.

It’s compatible with SmartThings.


#2

When you say it’s “compatible with SmartThings,” what precisely do you mean? Could you give us some example use cases and technically let us know what kind of interaction it is.

Are you assuming that ENGEN would run on a PC or raspberry pi, NOT have its own Z wave stick, and communicate to the SmartThings hub…how? Via REST point like HAMbridge? Or?

Or are you assuming that ENGEN would run on a PC or raspberry pi, have its own Z wave stick, and join the SmartThings network as…what? Primary? Secondary?

What would ENGEN bring to an install that SmartThings (which is a certified primary Z wave controller) doesn’t already provide?

Thanks!


#3

Also, just to keep network engineers from having their heads explode, it would be best not to describe your software product as a " zwave controller."

In Z wave, a “controller” is a physical device capable of establishing a network and sending radio frequency messages to other certified Z wave devices. Software alone is not a controller in this context.

In the setup described on your website, the USB stick or the raspberry pi is the zwave controller. Your product is the “Zwave management suite” or “Z wave management software.”

Indigo, for example, (market leader in this software-only space, although obviously much more expensive than your product) describes itself as a “smart home software platform.” I wasn’t sure if ENGEN only does lighting: if so “z-wave smart lighting management software” might work.

https://www.indigodomo.com

But you’re not a Z wave controller if you’re not a hardware device. That’s just standard Z wave terminology.

“zwave lighting solution” is good, too. Just not “controller.” :sunglasses:


(Jim Hillegass) #4

It can co-exist with SmartThings is probably a better way to say it.

It would have its own Z-Wave USB stick.

It has its own REST interface. You can access devices from a browser, using a URL.

It is a reliable controller for Z-Wave lighting. It requires no phone app. You can control lighting from a phone, tablet, or laptop without installing software.

It is integrated with our media software, JRiver Media Center.


(Jim Hillegass) #5

Sorry for the sloppy wording. Control software is more accurate. The controllers (Z Stick or equivalent) aren’t much use without software. They can’t actually control anything. They’re more like a transmitter/receiver and a user can’t interact with them without using software. But I accept your correction. Thanks.


(Andrea Bianco) #6

Thank you @JDRoberts for tech specs clarification. Is there a definition “we” (ST & Community [Dev’s]) for “compatible with SmartThings” ? I think for the masses/ average consumer it means something, and perhaps to those more technical, something very different. Thank you again.


(Jim Hillegass) #7

And it only does lighting at this time. Our goal is to nail lighting before doing anything more. Better than Lutron …


#8

I don’t think there is just one definition, which is why I usually ask. I mean you could say that anything that has an IFTTT channel is “compatible” with smart things in one sense, although I always say “has an indirect integration” for IFTTT uses. But that’s just me.

For the third-party protocols that issue their own certifications, though, “compatible” has a very specific meaning depending on the device class.

For Z wave, “compatible” means a hardware device which has been certified to accept a “basic” (in this context that’s a specific Z wave term) From any other certified Z wave device – – except for devices certified as controllers, like SmartThings, which are allowed to ignore a basic receive. Which smartthings does. (That’s to allow the controller to be aware that another device like a light switch issued the basic command but the controller doesn’t have to turn itself on or off in response to it.)

Anyway, all of that is to say that if you describe a product as a Z wave product as “compatible” with SmartThings it has a specific technical meaning which would require certification by the Z wave alliance certification program.

But if it’s a software product, you could mean pretty much anything at all, which is why I usually ask for the details.

For example, the Logitech Harmony is compatible with smart things through an official integration. Many people initially assume that means they’ll be able to map individual buttons, like volume control, and have SmartThings respond to those button pushes. But that’s not how the integration works. Smartthings never gets message level access to the buttons on the remote. Instead, The integration allow SmartThings to ask the harmony hub to initiate or shut down an existing harmony activity.

From a network engineering standpoint I’d agree that the two systems are “compatible,” but they don’t have device level compatibility if that makes any sense. So for that one I usually say “official integration.”

You’ll also probably notice if you read much on the forums that I usually say “the official 'works with ‘SmartThings’ list” rather than the “official compatibility list” because from my perspective a lot of those things aren’t actually fully compatible. But again, that’s just me. A lot of engineers wouldn’t have any problem with calling it a compatibility list.

All of which is to say “compatibility” can mean a lot of different things in a lot of different situations. But for certified Z wave devices and certified zigbee devices it does have a very specific meaning. :sunglasses:


#9

I was with you until you said “better than Lutron.” Unless you’ve got hardware with some serious patents, you’re not going to be better than Lutron. That’s a company driven by engineering with a single goal: exceptional lighting devices. Hardware. Their maximum standards for networked responsiveness are lower than most companies’ minimums.

This 2014 white paper on the challenges of dimming with MLV versus ELV is typical of what Lutron does better than anybody else. With all due respect, you’re not going to get near that with a software solution.

I’m not sure what your actual goal is here, but if you want to be credible you need to find a new way to say it.


#10

That makes sense. But SmartThings comes with its own controller software. Customers are not given device level access to the individual hardware controller. So how do you envision ENGEN as working with SmartThings?


(Jim Hillegass) #11

OK. Strike “Better than Lutron”. How about “Always works”?


#12

Say there’s a Cooper Z wave light switch in the living room. It belongs to the SmartThings network.

There’s a PC running ENGEN set up with an aeon Zstick.

Now what? :sunglasses:


(Ray) #13

The interaction with smartthing is with REST endpoint?


(Geko) #14

So does HomeGenie http://www.homegenie.it.
But unlike Engen, it’s free, open-source and can control more than just lights. :sunglasses:


(Peter Richardson) #15

Can I just thank JD Roberts for once again providing really excellent commentary on this topic. I learn more from my visits to this forum by following the links and information he provides than anywhere else. The technical background really help me understand the limitations of this $99 box and explore the amazing possibilities of HA as I build my first system.


(Andrea Bianco) #17

Hi JD-
May I have your expert opinion on ihome “devices” and “compatible/ works with” jargon in regards to apple / ihome devices. I am aligned with your school of thought and how I believe John Q. Public translate (in this case) “works of the SmartThings platform” - that means “good luck to you” in my native tongue translation.

Here is the blurb:

iHome + SmartThings

SmartPlug works on the SmartThings platform
Control and automate the smart devices in your home in one simple app.

As well at some convenient time for you, I would like to talk to with you about a few potential smart house community ideas.

Thanks for all of your contributions- makes the world a better place.

Regards,
Andrea


#18

Pretty sure that iHome works with SmartThings in a way similar to the WeMo integration. I think it’s a LAN integration while still requiring cloud access to the SmartThings account. But I’m just guessing. :sunglasses:

@tyler might want to say more.

edited to update: I was wrong, Tyler notes below that it’s a cloud to cloud integration.


(Andrea Bianco) #19

Thank you ! will see what Tyler says too


#20

The iHome integration is fully Cloud to Cloud. It doesn’t use your LAN to turn the switch on and off.


(Andrea Bianco) #21

Thanks Tyler.