Eve System's Tim Both talks to AppleInsider about its new products

in General Discussion edited March 2021
Tim Both from Eve Systems joins us for an exclusive interview to talk about the development of its new HomeKit-enabled Eve Weather as well as what's next for the company.

This interview is from the March 8 episode of HomeKit Insider, AppleInsider's weekly smart home podcast. Be sure to subscribe to hear more interviews, news, reviews, tips, and listener questions.

Originally, Eve System's CEO Jerome Gackel was scheduled to stop by, but unanticipated travel led to Tim Both stopping by once again.

Tim Both: Hello. I'm really happy to be back again. Our main reasoning for doing this was, of course, that you did such a great job last time pronouncing my name. So introducing a new name to the game, that seemed kind of unfair, right? We saw you guys struggling with that last time. So we figured this would be much easier -- since you did such a perfect job last time.

AppleInsider: Haha, well, we're excited to have you back! You're our first reoccurring guest on the show! Maybe to start, you could tell us about this new product that you guys just announced, available March 25.

Tim: Yeah, I'm happy to. So basically, what I talked about last time already is Thread. And that we are going to move our whole portfolio to Thread. And this is actually a product update, where we did exactly that. This is the successor to Eve Degree. So the main major first important change is, of course, that the product supports Thread, which is awesome for an auto(mation) product because it makes connectivity just so much easier. But that's not the reason that it deserved a new name.

So we call it Eve Weather because we kind of work not only on the Thread integration, but also on the overall functionality of the product. So what we learned from the previous generation, that people really loved it to have a display on that product, and to just walk outside and look at that display and see the temperature. That's a very groundbreaking thing that people don't need to pull out their phones all the time.

So people really like that. With a previous version, we had basically the ability to show one value, so you kind of have to decide between temperature and humidity. The real innovation here is that you now see both at the same time, which wasn't still enough, we found one more piece to the puzzle of making this really the best weather station out there. The previous version could already look at air pressure as well. And we did what every traditional weather station also does, and sort of derive a weather trend from that to sort of tell you what the weather might be like 12 hours from now.

So all of that rolled into one is now just standalone, a really, really good weather station that that can sort of just sit there and you can look at it and get valuable information at a glance-- plus all the stuff we had before it is HomeKit-enabled. You have an app on your phone, and you have historic data that you can just dive into it at any time that you might want to.

AI: One question I have, because I've actually been looking at getting a HomeKit weather station.

But I've been wondering what kind of information can you surface when you just ask your HomePod? And I see here on the Eve website you say you can ask what's the temperature on the patio? And if you have your Eve Weather out there on the patio, it'll tell you the temperature.

What are all, or the most useful things, that, if I have one of these and it's outside, what can I ask Siri from a HomePod. Can Siri tell me weather conditions if I asked the weather condition on the patio or what the weather is going to be today?

Tim: It does not do those kinds of forecast-type things over Siri on HomePod. It does not, unfortunately.

From the Siri side of things, the sort of default values that are supported are temperature and humidity. So, as you said you can specifically ask for that if you include the room name, the HomeKit room name, it will always tell you that specific information.

If you don't, as you know, Siri will just default to asking the internet and asking the weather service but lots of the time that's very valuable such as not to get some information from some remote measuring station that is accessed through the internet, but your actual temperature right there. So that continues to work, but the weather trend is something that is basically an app feature that the Home app can't do anything with that.

AI: I see. Also, it does the temperature and humidity but also barometric pressure. Now, is that at least a sensor that you would also see in the Home app? Or does the Home app only see temperature and humidity?

Tim: The Home app only sees those two values.

AI: To be clear to the new Eve Weather will be replacing the Eve Degree. And then that leaves you with your lineup, you have the Eve Weather, which is indoor/outdoor, because it still has the IPX3 weather resistance, it can go in your house or outside your house. And then you have the Eve Room, which is very similar. I think it has like the temperature and humidity, but it also has your air quality.

To your new Eve Weather, you didn't just add more information onto that display, you actually made it bigger, too, right? Do you think we're likely to see that bigger display party on over to the Eve Room side of things?

Tim: So one of the things we tried to make clear, with a name change is sort of where would you put these devices. And we really see Eve Weather -- and also previously Eve Degree -- as an outdoor product.

So basically, you'd have one of these, or maybe two on each side of your house. Outside, it's really built for, for outdoor weather and all of that. And indoors, you'd use Eve Room basically. And while the display has gotten bigger now on Eve Weather, the device dimensions didn't change. So it's still that that compact form factor.

It's many, many, many people who haven't seen it in person are finding it to be surprisingly small. We, we try to convey that in the images that we have. But it's really an elegant, compact device. And that hasn't changed with a new version. The outer dimensions remained the same. And the display has just grown a little bit.

For Eve Room, we don't really have that issue that we had with Eve Weather of needing to make the display bigger to put in more information because Eve Room is a little more advanced, because it has an E-ink display.

Also what you can do with Eve Room is just toggle through different screens, depending on what the most valuable information for you, whether that's air quality, temperature, or humidity, but all of the other values will also be visible alongside that. So that is already possible with that product. So we really don't see much of a reason to just increase the display for the sake of change, I would say, because we have received pretty good feedback on the overall dimensions of the device.

So we don't really want to make the device itself much larger. I think we're in a really, really good spot there.

AI: Looking at weather stations, and you know, different kinds of sensors you could put outside for this. What do you think the value is that someone would get. It's $70 bucks for this and you can get the temperature, you get the humidity, barometric pressure, and all that. What kind of value do you think this is going to give people that will help them justify that kind of cost?

Tim: So you're basically saying you think it's kind of expe--

AI: I didn't say that! I'm saying someone might say...

Tim: Someone might say that... you know, it always depends on what you compare it to. So if you compare to like, your cheap $20 sensor that just sits there, that just gives you current temperature and humidity, well then yeah, if that's what you need, you probably don't need Eve Weather because it's much more than that.

We kind of see it more along the lines of really a weather station. If you look at the standard outdoor weather stations, those usually range from like $50 and they can be really nice and fancy ones for $150 and more that really don't do anything but display that information on the screen. And with Eve Weather you have that beautiful product that you can just look at and get that information.

Plus you have everything that's enabled through the app and that is really the real power of the product. What I did a couple of weeks ago, since it was super snowy in Germany, it was really, really cold. So naturally, I was wondering, was it the same last year. And that was just a couple of taps, a couple of taps in the app. That way I could just look at my temperature history and look how the temperature was in the past year.

And at any time, I can dive into it and see how, how cold it was last night and that sort of thing. So if you enjoy that, then Eve Weather is the perfect product for you. If you just need like one value to get from Siri. To be honest, I'm not sure I would recommend Eve Weather for just that.

AI: One question on the Eve Weather and previously Eve Degree. I always struggled to find a good placement for this device. Do you have any good recommendations on where to put it? I feel like if you put it anywhere it's gonna get any sun at all -- this thing is black with the aluminum casing -- mine always got really hot and would, of course, be inaccurate at that point because it's just in direct sunlight absorbing heat.

I don't know. I mean, some places don't have a lot of shade going on.

Tim: Yeah, basically what we avoid is what you were just saying. Avoid putting it directly in a place that gets exposure from the sun. That is a problem for every temperature sensor that you can imagine.

What you want to do is find a nice spot, somewhere where at no time gets direct sunlight. Eve Weather, and previously Eve Degree, kind of makes it easy to pick and choose because you can just place it somewhere like on an even surface that might be a little corner where you have a table or something. Or you can just mount it on a wall. Maybe where you have something protruding, that gives it a little shade throughout the day.

So don't put it in direct sunlight, and everything else will be fine because it is water-resistant. So rain doesn't hurt it at all. There should be a place in every home where those conditions can be met.

AI: I am excited for this. It was an issue back when I got the Eve Degree. Since then we moved and now we actually have a porch on the front of our house. We have a bunch of wood columns going across the front of the porch, I'm going to be able to put this right on the back of one of those columns. So it's outside and not only that, but you'd be able to see like the display pretty much from my window or like you walk out the door, and boom, there's your temperature and that weather forecast.

So I'm excited I actually have a place to put it this time.

Tim: That sounds that sounds perfect. That's the same way I'm using mine. I actually have it on the wall outside. And I can see it through the window. So that's what I usually do just look out the window and see the real local temperature at a glance. And it's perfect for that. So yeah, that would be a nice spot for you.

AI: All right, well, Eve makes other products and we'd love to know more about those as well. Like the Eve Flare. I was actually curious. I wanted to get one and I went on the website and Apple's website and I don't see the Flare available anywhere. Can you tell us what's going on with that? Or you know, maybe if there are other lights maybe coming?

Tim: I really haven't checked the stock situation. But there are no immediate changes coming here. We might be just sold out for a little while here because demand was too high. But yeah, that product, I love the Flare.

It's really a great product. So I'm actually happy to see that. Many people have bought it and we have trouble getting stock back. But yeah, I mean, like all of our portfolio at some point, everything will be moved to Thread. It's not just yet the case for Flare. The version that has existed so far will probably be back in stock soon.

AI: That is good to know. I saw it was completely wiped out on Amazon and everything. And it's seriously one of my favorite products. Because if for anyone who hasn't seen the Flare, it's like a basketball-sized sphere. It's white plastic that acts as a diffuser around it. Then the light is in the center, it's got a mount to hang it so you can hang it from whatever. It's battery-powered, has a little charging base on it, and it's portable.

You can take it around your house or outside your house and use this thing. So we've gone outside and like hung it from our patio before as like a nice diffused accent light. It's got all the colors of light you could want too.

I was proud of this -- guy's mind you, we don't have kids. This was just for my wife and me, but at our old house, we took those little glow-in-the-dark stars and I covered an entire wall in those little stick-on stars. And then I put the Eve Flare right in the center. I turn it on to around one percent or two percent and it looked like a moon glowing. It was really cool. And it would be able to automate with the lights in the room and stuff like that.

I was so proud. It looked really neat. Again, no children -- just adults!

Tim: That sounds really nice, I love that!

AI: I'm excited for more of those to get in stock. I'm excited for more people to get their hands on them. I feel like that was an underrated product because you guys launched it I think in the UK or the EU before coming to the US so it didn't get a lot of attention when it was made available stateside. It's such a unique product. How many other portable HomeKit lights are there. I mean, I can't really name any others.

Tim: It's super versatile. What I did was is I took it on the road trip actually -- back in the day when that was still a thing. And that is just because you can move it out of your home and here Bluetooth really is amazing because you can just take it with you and everything still works. You can just turn it off and on and change colors. Like even if you're out it's out there in nature or somewhere.

So it's really for many different scenarios. It's really a nice little mood lamp.

AI: So when it comes to Eve, you know, looking to the future, what are some categories that you hope Apple actually adds to HomeKit? You know, we talked about how the Eve Weather has information like barometric pressure, but it can't communicate it to Apple HomeKit. But not just that, but are there other device categories?

We had a listener question talk about washers and dryers recently. Any other categories that you guys at Eve hope Apple will add to HomeKit because you're excited about that product line?

Tim: From the top of my head, I can't really think of any. Because we're not going to make washers and dryers yet, we are actually pretty happy.

I mean, the whole, we talked about this last time, HomeKit has evolved dramatically in the past five years, and a lot of stuff has been added. One major, major thing that we were really, really happy about was the whole irrigation control thing because that empowered us to release Eve Aqua, which is one of my favorite products. There isn't really anything missing at this point.

I'm sure that it will continue to evolve, things like air pressure, that also wouldn't be much value, if that just appeared in the Home app. You just have some generic value that you can't do much with. It's kind of tied to what we do with historic data and the Eve app and having sort of that data history to look at how it evolved over time.

And just to be clear here, we do all of that through HomeKit still. Just because the Home app isn't able to display barometric pressure, it doesn't mean it's something outside of HomeKit. All the communication we have is using the same mechanism HomeKit is using. Even historic data is completely encrypted, passed on through HomeKit.

You see that because it's also using the same mechanisms, if you access it remotely, for example. So that requires a Home Hub, it goes through your Home Hub. So it's all really 100% HomeKit what we do. Then it's just a matter of priorities, whether you really need that information in the Home app. And what kind of benefits does that give you? Or maybe it's fine to have that in a third-party app like the Eve app. Really, you can do a lot of stuff with HomeKit, even though it might not appear in the Home app.

AI: A couple of things -- one free idea for both Apple and Eve. One of the categories that I would want, I don't know if you count as a category, but features that I think HomeKit should add is additional support for stuff on weather stations.

We've been looking at the Eve Weather coming out and we look at other weather stations, I've been looking at the Netatmo one which has the add-on modules. I want to be able to track rain and wind as well, but in the Home app. I think rain would be very useful, even for you guys. Think of the additional modules that you could create that measure those things. But you could tie those together. When it rains, turn off your Eve Aqua. I know you already have done a lot within the confines that you have, like the Shortcuts that check for the day's weather and if it's going to rain, pause your schedule, stuff like that.

But I think even just having an actual sensor that detects rainfall, you can run your automations based on that. And you'd be able to run any other automation. Maybe it rains and it then sends you an alert to take an umbrella. Or whatever it is that you can run through the Shortcuts app.

I think adding weather station information like wind and rainfall would be two handy things.

Second of all, you mentioned Eve Aqua, and I guess we should have started with this at the beginning of the show, too. Not only is the Eve Weather is a new product, but you guys have announced the new version of the Eve Energy is coming to the US and that's the one with Thread support. Eve had introduced a new more compact version in 2020 and 2021 you have a new Thread-enabled version that launched first overseas and now it's coming here to the US.

Lastly, you announced that the software update firmware update for Eve Aqua is landing in April. I want to say, just in time for people to start watering stuff. That Thread update is for anyone using the second-gen device.

Tim: Yeah, exactly. We were excited about that. And we actually worked really hard to just make this happen for the beginning of summer, hopefully in many areas in the world.

At least here in Europe, we expect that to come right now. So yeah, beyond Eve Weather as you have said Eve Energy will get that Thread hardware revision in April in the US, also in the UK in May. Eve Energy in Europe is already here. So we have in the European markets in the US and in the UK. Not only the US, also Canada.

I have to say, we now have eight products with Thread support. And that makes life so much better because as we talked about this last time when it has that router functionality and can just extend your Thread mesh network. So it's really a key product. If you have a couple of these scattered across your home, you never have to worry about connectivity ever again.

That's really exciting. And you don't have to buy a bunch of HomePods to achieve that. That is awesome. And then Eve Aqua, we have been planning ahead, so all the devices that have been sold after June of last year, will get a free firmware update.

AI: What is your favorite Eve product that maybe you use personally in your home or one that you're most excited about. It could be the new Eve Weather, but what's your favorite?

Tim: That's a tough decision. You know, I have a bunch of these in my home of course so I really love what Eve Weather and Eve Room are giving me on information. It's really essential for me to have the temperature in each room and sort of look at how it developed. All of that will hurt me if you will take that away from me at this point probably.

But then there's also another duo that I really love, which is Eve Thermo and Eve Aqua. They complement each other because the one thing is only important in the winter and the other one is only important in the summer. They just sit there the rest of the time.

So yeah, those will probably be my picks.

AI: Do you have another HomeKit product that you really enjoy? That's not Eve-branded?

Tim: Oh, of course. I mean, I think I have about 100 HomeKit accessories in my home. Naturally, not all of these are Eve and then definitely I like to try out pretty much everything that other companies have in the market.

There are a couple of amazing products out there. So which one would I highlight here... I really enjoyed getting the Logitech Circle View video doorbell. I think that just from the HomeKit integration side of things, it's so Apple. I would say it just works and everything is great. Having somebody ring your door with HomeKit Secure Video, link to your Photos album, and then having your HomePod announce someone at your door.

That is truly the Apple magic here. The Logitech Circle View video doorbell just fulfills that promise. Beautifully. So I love that.

In Europe, we have a door locking by a company called Nuki. It's a wordplay that English-speaking people will get immediately but I don't think many Germans do.

Once you get used to like having your door automated and having it open once you arrive home and having all that security in there... because for door locking solutions, what we as Eve value so much is the whole privacy and security thing. That's even more important in many areas if you have a thing connected to your door that can open that door and let people in

So I think here with HomeKit again and the privacy-centric implementation of that, it's not exposed to some other cloud or something. It is very, very valuable, and then that product also fulfills that promise. So, yeah, I think those would be the two products that I really do enjoy that that are not Eve branded.

AI: This was great. Thank you so much for hanging out with us today. Hope you come back soon to talk about more exciting Eve products.

Tim: Looking forward to it.

Be sure to listen to the full interview on the latest episode of HomeKit Insider
Sign In or Register to comment.