Anyone who has followed Apple World Today or TUAW for any length of time knows that I have a few passions in life; wine, baseball, home automation, and weather. The last two aren't as fun as the first two, but at least I can write about them here. I've always hoped for the day that I'd be able to ask Siri questions about my home environment, and that day is finally here with the Elgato Eve Room (US$79.95) and Eve Weather ($49.95) sensors.
Elgato did a beautiful job of designing these two sensors that are attractive enough to fit with any decor. They're both clean, white boxes with rounded corners, and inside is the electronic circuitry that senses weather and home environmental factors, then beams it via Bluetooth Smart to your iPhone or iPad.
Both devices run off of AA batteries -- the Room uses three AA batteries, while the Weather uses two. The batteries are easily replaced by sliding open a door on the back of each unit. The only physical difference between the two units is in the location of the vents that allow air to flow into the devices. The Eve Room has vents at top and bottom, while Eve Weather only has one on the bottom, which makes it less likely to get water damage since it is located outside your home.
The two Eves report slightly different information to the iOS app. The Eve Home displays indoor air quality with VOC's (volatile organic compounds) in parts per million (PPM), temperature °F or °C, and humidity in percent. Eve Weather displays outdoor temperature, humidity, and barometric (air) pressure.
As with all HomeKit products, the Elgato Eve sensors are a snap to set up. You basically put the batteries into the device, open the Eve app, and add a new device. When asked, you point the iPhone camera at the HomeKit identifier number and you're done. You can also assign the device to a location, such as "back yard" or "bedroom".
This is where things got a little weird; the Eve app shows its two devices, but it also tries and fails to add in the other HomeKit device in my house -- an iHome Smartplug. It shows the Smartplug, but all of the status fields are filled with "N/A". Sure, HomeKit is new, but I would love to have just one app be able to control all of my HomeKit devices. Why isn't Apple doing their own app instead of forcing home automation fans to have different apps for each brand?
One of the big selling points of HomeKit is Siri control, so one can ask questions like "What's the temperature in the bedroom?" or "What's the temperature in the back yard?", and you'll get a good response from Siri. Asking for the percent humidity also works, but I had no luck at all asking Siri for either the barometric pressure or air quality.
The app is a little odd, as it doesn't take elevation of the reporting station into account as it should. I live at about 6,000 feet above sea level, but our weather stations (and my personal weather station) take the elevation into account to provide a standardized barometric pressure. For example, at this time the pressure is 29.43 inHg (inches of mercury) from my home weather station. The Eve Weather? It's showing 23.95 inHg, which is the actual uncorrected pressure. While it's nice to see the barometric pressure trend, having an uncorrected pressure is essentially worthless to me.
Finally, Eve lacks one feature that would make it much more powerful; integration with IFTTT. Most home automation equipment manufacturers are good about building in IFTTT integration; with it, you'd be able to get text notifications when air quality is poor or when temperature is above or below a certain level. Not having IFTTT integration really hamstrings the ability of Eve to work with other devices and services.
Elgato's Eve Home and Weather sensors are fun and well-designed, but point out some failings of HomeKit at this early juncture. The company needs to either fix its app to take elevation into account for barometric pressure readings, or warn people who live at high elevations that the readings are uncorrected. Adding IFTTT integration is another must for the Eve sensors to be good citizens in the world of home automation.