Before Covid I was rarely working from home. Our company culture at Ocado Technology was very office-centric, benefiting from the presence and relationships of our technologists. Having everybody around equalled fast problem resolution or being able to practice my favourite management style, management by wandering around. Building face to face relationships was (and still is) incredibly important and it remains a huge part of our DNA at Ocado Technology — this is how we collaborate, learn and innovate. However, the situation has changed, and whether or not we wanted to start working remotely, we had to. To help people cope with this drastic change, Ocado Technology decided to relax the concept of core business hours, where everybody was expected to be available. As a result, a new concept was introduced, closely resembling flexible work. This freedom allows us to suit individual business areas, functions and roles, and their needs. However, old habits die hard, and over the first couple of months it was business as usual, with the only difference to the pre-covid times of kids, pets and spouses walking in the background of video calls.
Without a shadow of a doubt we can say that IT is one of the most rapidly developing industries, and still has great perspectives. In early 2000s IT was competing with the Financials in the S&P500 index for the title of the biggest economic sector. Since obtaining this title in 2010, IT successfully established itself as the leader, increasing its share in the index to more than 25% over the last 10 years (leaving financials at only 10%). When the expectancy of the next dot-com bubble burst started to grow, 2020 came with the COVID pandemic. Over the next 18 months we’ve seen unprecedented growth in the IT sector, speeding up the digital transformation by as much as 5 years by some estimates.
One of the very first things I did, when embarking on a Home Automation adventure was reviewing all the scrap devices I had around the house. Three old phones got my attention almost instantly - after all, it’s a small computer with battery, low energy consumption, WIFI on board and a camera. Reusing those phones as IP Cameras integrated with Home Assistant is a piece of cake and instant win. The challenge however is to cast the feed from camera to cast-enabled device.
Serverless technology is an enabler to build complete and scalable system quickly, running at low cost, without having to worry too much about infrastructure. If you are using AWS, with several simple changes and additions you can also have Business Intelligence in your project, using the same pricing model as the Lambdas - you pay only for what you use.
Right now, with the amount of devices and integrations available it is relatively simple to have a smart home. The real challenge is to convince your loved ones, you share your home with, to start using this new automations. My weapon of choice in this war is my special Memory Lane Panna Cotta.
Market currently consists of thousands smart devices, with hundreds new ones becoming available each day. Integrating them all by yourself is an uphill battle. Thankfully, open-source community is helpful, providing us with tons of libraries talking with smart devices. Community goes even one step further, creating platforms that do aggregate those libraries under coherent interface. The Home Assistant is one of such projects, and in this article we will install, configure and secure it on Raspberry.
To get the Controller, your hub controlling everything, available on the internet one has two options. You can reconfigure the router a little and use static IP address or a Dynamic DNS service. Alternatively, if you are limited by your internet provider, you can use a tunneling service like ngrok.
Nowadays building a Smart Home is an art of compromises. One can either spend lots of bucks and get a coherent system from one producer, or go big and build the devices from scratch, using AliExpress electronics. In the upcoming year I’m targeting for middleground here, neither spending a small fortune nor building my own hardware. This series describes my experiences of building a Smart Home armed in nothing more than programming skills and a limited budget.