Thinka debuts world's first Z-Wave hub for HomeKit

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Thinka on Tuesday took the wraps off the first Z-Wave hub for HomeKit, bringing support for more than 3,300 new accessories to Apple's smart home platform.

Thinka hub for HomeKit
Thinka Z-Wave hub for HomeKit


The new Apple-certified Thinka Z-Wave is a simple hub that allows many Z-Wave accessories to work with HomeKit for the first time. This includes smart switches, thermostats, dimmers, doorbells, speakers, curtains, fans, dimmers and various sensors from over 600 different brands.

"90% of all HomeKit accessories are based on WiFi or Bluetooth, which, unlike the Z-wave protocol, are not optimized for home automation," said Thinka founder and CEO Michael Franken. "Z-Wave offers a full range of over 3,000 smart home products, so by unlocking Z-Wave for HomeKit, Thinka brings the best of two worlds together"

Thinka Z-Wave hub for HomeKit
Thinka Z-Wave hub for HomeKit


Unlike Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, Z-Wave was designed for smart home automation and has existed far longer than the emerging Thread standard. It is optimized for range and is extremely power efficient. Thinka touts Z-Wave as the protocol with the largest product range, and now those devices will work with HomeKit.

Prior to the Z-Wave hub, Thinka's first product was a KNX hub that works with HomeKit.

The Amsterdam-based company is launching the Thinka Z-Wave in Europe for 429 euros before coming to the United States next year.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    There is a short comparison of Z-Wave to other protocols on wikipedia:
    4.5 Comparison to other protocols

    There are also longer comparisons on other websites:
    https://www.electropages.com/blog/2019/02/smart-homes-explained-smart-home-protocol <--
    https://www.tomsguide.com/us/smart-home-wireless-network-primer,news-21085.html <--
    https://www.anixter.com/en_us/resources/literature/techbriefs/comparing-wireless-communication-protocols.html <--

    I've been unhappy with the reliability of Zigbee (although last month I finally got it working perfectly by assigning a fixed IP to my Hue Hub) so I'm using the above links to decide which protocol I want to use.

    I think this new Z-Wave Hub for Homekit is an excellent option for people who are already invested in Z-Wave products. But I'm not sure if that's the protocol I would pick if I were building a new network. Everyone has different requirements, and therefore choose different solutions. The most popular requirements seem to be:
    1. What is the speed of the protocol (data rate) and latency (response time)
    2. What problems exist with wireless interference in busy areas like cities?
    3. What is the maximum range of the protocol
    4. What is the maximum number of devices the protocol supports
    5. Does it support mesh networks? Or even dual mesh networks for redundancy?
    6. Does it use low power, low enough that I can use products that transmit with batteries rather than with wired power
    7. What is the number of companies that provide products for that protocol
    8. Are there security and privacy issues in terms of data encryption and whether products "phone home to company HQ" to update or even to use the product?
    9. Is it compatible with Apple's Homekit? (For people on this website, this is an issue)
    10. Is it compatible with Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)
    11. Is a hub required?
    12. What is the cost of a basic smart bulb using this protocol?
    13. Does it work in my country? (some countries have different frequencies allotted to the same protocol)
    edited September 7 JWSCFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 2 of 11
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,359member
    This is huge. Z wave existed long before HomeKit and there’s a huge installed base of z wave devices. Up until now, if you wanted to switch to HomeKit, you were required to dump your entire inventory of devices and start from scratch. This would cost hundreds to even thousands of dollars, a rather difficult proposition to make. In addition, the number of HomeKit devices is still quite limited and there’s not a lot of choice. Opening up the z wave market increases the possibilities. Of course, 430€ is a hefty sum to shell out just for a bridge, too. 

    The other problem with HomeKit that’s probably limiting adoption more than anything is it is still so limited functionally. We’ve had a S wave system from Schlage in our house for 10 years and it has far more capabilities than HomeKit. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 11
    Seems like it is coming to the U.S. next year.  I would not spend $500 for a hub when you have Wi-Fi already in your home.  Maybe Amazon Alexa for $29.00?
    edited September 7 williamlondon
  • Reply 4 of 11
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,897member
    I have no incentive to move my home automation and security away from Z-Wave+ any time soon. It's been super reliable, stable, incredibly power efficient, affords a huge selection of devices, and forms a natural layer of security obfuscation between the device level network (automation network) and the IP connected world. Once a device is commissioned/adopted into the Z-Wave+ network it is totally hands-off. No worries about IP addresses, DHCP, 2.4 GHz radio frequency interference, or constantly emerging standards. Battery powered devices will need to have their batteries replaced every so often, like once every 3-5 years for simple sensors.

    I have nothing against Thread/6LoWPAN or any IP based networks, I've worked on several such networks and device management standards that are integral to the IIoT/Industry 4.0 and have seen the general trend towards IP based connectivity over the past couple of decades. But it's not a panacea and there are still pain points that come along with the move to IP based networks, like the cost/effort for IP address setting and device commissioning on large scale industrial networks and the broad attack surface that anything IP based exhibits on the security front.

    Of course there are plenty of benefits too, like TLS, network physical layer redundancy, single pair Ethernet, PoE, PoDL, etc., some of which haven't trickled down to personal home automation - yet. From an engineering perspective, anything running on Ethernet affords an opportunity to use standard Ethernet tools, with WireShark being a favorite. I'd be shocked if someone hasn't already developed a WireShark dissector for Thread.

    If the home automation world follows a similar path as industrial automation we'll see more Ethernet and IP adoption but the lower level self-contained device networks that have stayed current and been standardized, like Z-Wave+ has, will be around for at least 20 more years, along with the gateways needed to connect them to IP networks.


    watto_cobraJWSCFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 5 of 11
    At this astronomical price it’s cheaper for me to rip out my legacy ZWave devices and replace them with HomeKit ones, than try to keep them on life support and deal with the idiosyncrasies of yet another hub (I already have Homebridge running on a Raspberry Pi, Philips Hue, Caseta, Ikea Tradfri, Aqara, a Sonoff Zigbee gateway… way too many tiny boxes that use up an Ethernet port and a power outlet, it’s maddening.
    watto_cobrambenz1962
  • Reply 6 of 11
    At this astronomical price it’s cheaper for me to rip out my legacy ZWave devices and replace them with HomeKit ones, than try to keep them on life support and deal with the idiosyncrasies of yet another hub (I already have Homebridge running on a Raspberry Pi, Philips Hue, Caseta, Ikea Tradfri, Aqara, a Sonoff Zigbee gateway… way too many tiny boxes that use up an Ethernet port and a power outlet, it’s maddening.
    The only issue is trying to find a device with native HomeKit support to replace the existing Z-Wave device you currently have.  After all these years, there’s still not something as simple as (for example) a water shutoff valve available for HomeKit.  I would love one of these as a recent water leak cost me a lot more than $500 in damages that I wasn’t home for.  This hub will make it possible and especially for those that don’t have the time to tinker with HomeBridge. 

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 11
    MplsP said:
    This is huge. Z wave existed long before HomeKit and there’s a huge installed base of z wave devices. Up until now, if you wanted to switch to HomeKit, you were required to dump your entire inventory of devices and start from scratch. This would cost hundreds to even thousands of dollars, a rather difficult proposition to make. In addition, the number of HomeKit devices is still quite limited and there’s not a lot of choice. Opening up the z wave market increases the possibilities. Of course, 430€ is a hefty sum to shell out just for a bridge, too. 

    The other problem with HomeKit that’s probably limiting adoption more than anything is it is still so limited functionally. We’ve had a S wave system from Schlage in our house for 10 years and it has far more capabilities than HomeKit. 
    And you would be wrong!

    I've used Indigo for home automation since 2005.  Starting with X-10, some Insteon, and now fully Z-Wave.  HomeBridge for Indigo (Open Source) is a hub/bridge for HomeKit.  HomeKit for Indigo makes all Indigo devices (X-10, Insteon, Z-Wave, etc.)  HomeKit compatible.  It runs on a Mac (no other "boxes" required), and is free & easy to setup.  I run it on the same Mac mini as Indigo.  All of our HomePods (11) control all the Indigo devices perfectly with Siri voice-command, and the Home app works perfectly as well.

    I would never pay $400-$500 USD for a Z-Wave bridge - that makes ZERO sense.  They are pricing themselves out of the market.
  • Reply 8 of 11
    At this astronomical price it’s cheaper for me to rip out my legacy ZWave devices and replace them with HomeKit ones, than try to keep them on life support and deal with the idiosyncrasies of yet another hub (I already have Homebridge running on a Raspberry Pi, Philips Hue, Caseta, Ikea Tradfri, Aqara, a Sonoff Zigbee gateway… way too many tiny boxes that use up an Ethernet port and a power outlet, it’s maddening.
    At an average of $40 USD price for each controlled device, unless you have less than 10 devices (why bother), you would be wrong.

    Regarding HomeBridge, and other "boxes", see my reply to MpIsP - HomeBridge runs perfectly fine on a Mac.  And a Raspberry Pi can easily be powered by a PoE switch - right equipment for the job.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,781member
    For my needs, this is too expensive.
    If there was a device I wanted with no other HomeKit alternative, I might invest $50 - $100 into the hub, but at $500, I'll pass.
    mbenz1962
  • Reply 10 of 11
    $500 USD for a hub?  Yeh good luck with selling 20 of those.

    t would almost be cheaper to replace all of your switches and sensors at that cost. 
  • Reply 11 of 11
    Although I'm already generally of a mind to reduce the number of bridges to HomeKit that I have, I thought, 'access to thousands of devices? This could be interesting.'  Then I see here it's $500 just to get the bridge. So maybe this is really just for people who have already invested significantly in z-wave. I think I'll keep my preference for fully integrated HomeKit devices.
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