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Peq review: A robust, DIY connected-home system

Jake Widman | Jan. 27, 2015
The Peq system provides a painless way to monitor conditions in your home, from leaking water to open doors, and to control lights, locks, and other features.

Playing by the rules
Once your various devices are paired, you can start setting up rules to govern how they behave: automating when a lamp turns on and off, for example, or having a sensor send an email or text alert or trigger an action by another device. For example, I set up a rule for the water sensor to send me an email when it detected water. So in addition to the notifications in my Dashboard about the water in the laundry room, I also received email alerts. In fact, I received an email notification every 15 minutes until I corrected the "problem" in the basement by moving the sensor.

I also made a rule for the lamp module to turn on every evening at 4 PM and leave the lights on for eight hours, as well as to turn on when the door was opened or when the motion sensor detected movement in the room. It turned out that the way these rules interacted was really the only area where I ran into problems getting the system to work the way I wanted. The motion-sensor rule said to turn on the lamp and turn it off again after five minutes. That worked, but it overrode the rule about turning the light on in the evening, so that the lamp turned itself off after five minutes even though it was within the 4 PM-to-midnight time frame. I fixed that by tweaking the motion-sensing rule to not apply during the hours the lamp would be on anyway.

The only other failure was on my part, when I turned out the lamp at bedtime the usual way, using its switch. That meant the Peq system couldn't turn the lamp on for any reason, and it took me a few minutes the next day to figure out why none of my rules for the lamp were working. In a conversation, Steve Bosch, Peq vice president of product and strategy, agreed that part of the learning curve with the system is training yourself to turn things on and off with the system, rather than with physical switches.

Is it a worthwhile investment?
My only other real criticism of the system had to do with the limited functionality of the mobile apps. They let you control your devices and turn rules on and off, but you can't create or modify a rule with them. That ability, fortunately, will be part of the new interface and feature set that Smart Home is planning to roll out in the second quarter of this year.

In the new interface, each device shown on the Dashboard has a "live tile" that not only displays its current status but offers some direct control: Dimming a light by dragging downward on the tile, for example. You'll be able to have multiple dashboards, each with its own set of tiles, to accommodate different people and situations. And the system will also offer connections with new devices, including garage door openers, fitness trackers, and the Zubie "connected car" system.

 

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