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Nest and Future Smart Vent Integrations

This is an updated version of our August 2015 post with the same title, originally posted on Medium. 

We’ve said it before: integration is good and necessary for the smart home. In a previous blog post, we explained why we are focusing on integration rather than building a new smart home standard. Since then, a lot of people have reached out to us, wondering what integrations we have planned for the Smart Vent and how exactly these integrations will work. It’s no surprise that many of these questions are regarding how the Smart Vent works with connected thermostats and various smart home platforms.

Our goal as a company is to a) build a platform that brings peace of mind to homeowners by improving the infrastructure that keeps a home running and b) integrate with leading smart home brands and platforms that address other areas of innovation (i.e. security, lighting, etc.). We’d love to say that all of these integrations can happen overnight, but in reality they take time and careful planning. So, rather than trying to integrate with everything simultaneously, we are focused on specific integrations — such as NestHaiku (fka Big Ass Fans), Ecobee, Amazon Echo, Honeywell Lyric, Control4, and iControl (now Comcast). HomeKit integration is on our roadmap for the near future.

Works with Nest

Image courtesy of Nest.com

Integrating the Smart Vent with the Nest thermostat was a huge priority for us leading up to shipping Smart Vent System pre-orders. Beyond simply working with Nest's open API, we worked with the Nest team to become official “Works with Nest” partners, which allows us to build meaningful integrations between the Smart Vent and the Nest ecosystem. Today you can integrate a single Nest thermostat right into your Keen Home app, giving you a single app from which to control your home's temperature and comfort. 
Our integration with Nest let's homeowners adjust the temperature settings for their Nest, as well as set their Nest to "Home". With Nest integrated with a Smart Vent System, Smart Vents will automatically know whether a home is being heated, cooled, or if the HVAC is off, allowing for more robust Auto-mode functionality than without a Nest thermostat. We have big plans for the future of this integration and look forward to rolling them out to all of you soon.


Image courtesy of Support.apple.com

Unlike working with Nest, HomeKit integration requires a lot more than software to implement. To integrate with HomeKit we first need to be certified under the MFi (Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad) licensing program that Apple-compatible products must adhere to. MFi is a collection of security specifications and hardware requirements set by Apple that must be met before a third party device can be approved to work with HomeKit or any other Apple software or devices. Thankfully, these regulations only affect the Keen Home Smart Bridge, though they do add additional layers of complexity that range from Apple-mandated tests to additional security chips that must be resident on our device.

Both Keen Home and our manufacturer are already MFi 6.2 licensed, and we have reviewed all of Apple’s specifications and sample security chips. We are now assessing the engineering requirements for the Keen Home Smart Bridge to support HomeKit. If we continue to see ample user demand, our next version of the Smart Bridge will support HomeKit. Homeowners will only need to upgrade their Smart Bridge to add HomeKit support to their Smart Vent ecosystem and we are contemplating a trade-in program for mid-2016. 

In addition to working on hardware compatibility, we are studying what a HomeKit user experience might look like. Without HomeKit, a homeowner can already control their Smart Vents from the Keen Home iOS app. What HomeKit integration offers is basic controls within iOS itself. This would provide opportunities to control your Smart Vents without launching an app or potentially with voice commands through integration with Siri. With an installed user base of over 700 million devices, native iOS integration is impossible to ignore.

We have a ton of other integrations planned. Here's a glimpse at some of the other platforms we are working on:

    • A lot of people have asked us whether or not we will support Ecobee’s smart WiFi thermostat. We definitely plan to leverage Ecobee’s open API. The Ecobee3’s discrete temperature sensors extend the intelligence of the thermostat throughout the house and would be a great compliment to the sensor suite in each Smart Vent. We even have an Ecobee3 in our test home!
    • iControl has an extensive network of partners and customers that they have built smart home software for since 2003. The extent of this network and the strength of their infrastructure makes iControl a partner we look forward to working with in the future. This week, it was announced the Comcast purchased iControl's business unit that specialized in ZigBee-based products. It is still unclear how this will impact our integration efforts.
    • Thermostats and vents aren’t the only elements of a home’s heating and cooling ecosystem. Ceiling fans add low power cooling that, used in conjunction with a smart thermostat and Smart Vents, can have a profoundly positive impact on a homeowner’s comfort. The Haiku smart ceiling fan by Big Ass Solutions gives homeowners control via their smartphones and integrates with connected thermostats. Haikus already work with Nest and we are very interested in integrating them with the Smart Vent.
    • *New* Honeywell's Lyric platform has been gaining steam over the last year. The company has a huge incumbent advantage and an unrivaled distributor network. Customers looking for HVAC equipment know and trust the Honeywell brand. We see an excellent opportunity to tap into this network by integrating our Smart Vents with the Lyric API. Apologies to our friends at Honeywell for only giving Nest love in our original blog post!
    • *New* Amazon has been stealing the spotlight in the connected home space with their Echo smart speaker and hub and their Alexa voice API. This is an increasingly popular integration partner and one we are very excited about. SmartThings users can already integrate Echo with Smart Vents. Check out this video we made demonstrating the integration. 
    • *New* We get a lot of requests for perfect room-by-room thermostat capabilities, but that's sometimes easier said than done with the Smart Vent's in-duct temperature sensors. To accomplish this functionality, we're exploring integration with a variety of discrete sensors that can be placed within a room to analyze ambient room temperature with duct temperature. This is already possible with SmartThings and will be a feature of Ecobee3 integration. Stay tuned for some new products from Keen Home in this realm...
    • *New* Control4 is one of the most established players in the connected home space with over 8,000 supported devices. Control4 has a dedicated user base and a strong developer community the helps consistently churn out new devices drivers. We're excited by the opportunity to bring Smart Vents to the Control4 community. 

If you don’t see your favorite devices or platforms mentioned in this post, that doesn’t mean we won’t integrate with them. We want to meet homeowners where they already are, which means integrating with the platforms they already have in their home. It’s something we will continuously be working on in parallel with building our own platform.

What smart home platforms would you like to see us integrate with? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook, or send an email to contact@keenhome.io.

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