Friday, January 11, 2013

Lowes Smart Home Product - IRIS

Last Summer Lowe's introduced a new smart home product called IRIS.  I am an avid supporter of Home Automation projects and the price point for an ethernet device that does z-wave and zigbee for $99 was too compelling so I bought one.   

Looking to integrate this hardware into my existing Pytomation / Misterhouse home automation system, I decided to see how "open" they are about third party integrations.

What I have found is that they have a REST based API available from their own servers in the cloud, however, I could not find a way to access this device locally within my own network.

I spent an hour or so sharking the device to see what was available and here are my results:

  • The device is created by AlertMe (has their MAC vendor address)
  • It has TCP ports 80 and 111 open (neither one of them does standard HTTP on it though) Unknown protocol.
  • It communicates with for firmware updates on HTTPS
  • It communicates with for general communication on HTTPS
  • It appears to run Linux 2.6 based on nmap -O
  • It appears to have support for SafetyNet protocol (UDP port 4000) Dont know much about it other than is supports secure connections for embedded devices on ethernet.
  • I have heard that it has a TTL serial port on the board, but login password is unknown.

Unfortunately for now, there does not appear to be a way to interface with the hardware component directly (and without their monthly fee).   This would leave my system to the mercy of internet connectivity to their cloud infrastructure and the lag associated with it, so I have decided to halt any further development with the devices.


  1. Interesting stuff, Jason. What are you currently using with Pytomation for this purpose?

  2. Fine information, many thanks to the author. It is puzzling to me now, but in general,
    smart home

  3. Thanks for the the lead, with this I managed to get a little more information.

    1. The api IRIS use it also identical to that of alertme.

    2. Our iphone app is using it directly.
    3. Here's a alertme repo that works if you change to
    4. Here's the api documentation that works with IRIS except for "getUserInfo"

    The IRIS app sucks soo bad that it makes me want my own.

  4. I'll take that back iris is not using v2, it's using still need to findout how we can use the v5 api, v2 is still working though.

  5. The problem with home automation or smart home technology is lack of truly robust communication services that are open systems and scalable. The current technologies are somewhat limited either by speed and/or by duplexed data exchanges. Additionally, the average home owner tends to view the service as a novelty and is unwilling to commit attractive amounts of money into the technology. In order for home automation to really take off, there has to be several changes:

    1. A standard open systems design that encourages whole house integration and wide area exchanges. This includes APIs, cloud services, and cross system integration (internet - smart home).
    2. A substantial increase in the dependency and/or perceived need.
    3. A substantial investment in the home construction industry outfitting new homes with a standard smart home communication system. Like services such as cable and internet tend to be an after thought. Homes should come equipped with standard sensor arrays in each room, networked light switches and power outlets as well as home-survival closets having a water stores and supplemental power that are integrated to the smart home. The challenge is cost. Homebuilders want to keep cost down in order to make the sale. They equate value to tangibles like countertops, colors, and space. Functionality is low on the list and usually means a garage door opener.
    4. Smart home products need to provide more value than turning something off and on. For example, they should provide power consumption data, patterns of usage data when manually operated, complex scheduling options based on environmental conditions, wide area grid integration services, and a host of other value added services.

    Let's consider an example implementation of smart home technology in a hypothetical product; the cabinet greenhouse. This is a product that sits on ones porch to grow flowers, herbs, and as a garden starter. It has a weather station add on and automation capability. The cabinet connects to the home automation network and/or the internet via WiFi and is powered using solar panels. The location of the unit and weather reporting are part of the wide area network. Automation schemes are downloaded to the cabinet over the network that are adjusted for the wide area reporting and usage. Also the products grown can be bartered or sold over the wide area network. Increasing the value of the device to the home owner.

    Let's look at something as simple as the lamp. Currently, the smart home usage only considers on/off capability. But there is a greater need based on environmental conditions. For example, on a rainy day the ambient light levels often require supplemental lighting that must be manually invoked. Sensors could detect ambient light levels are adjust for them. The use of badges, movement sensors, and activity tracking may adjust lighting environmental conditions as the person moves about the home. Collected movement patterns can anticipate arrivals and departures when making adjustments. Additionally, these sensors can be tied to security. Upon arrival notice can be made of a break in and movement patterns or if some one is still in the home and where.

    Overall, there is a huge untapped market that needs to be congealed into demand for smart home products. For the home operator there needs to be a balance between the economics and serviceable value. This can be offset by coupling into wide area networks in order to create social networks facilitating some sort of economic activity such as exchange of garden products, excess solar power, and information.

  6. Your comment is the best summary of the state of Home Automation I have seen on the Internet!

    I used to be in the Home Automation business years ago and sadly havent seen much advance in either technology or consumer demand. The market segments that I had then and still seemingly remain: 1.) Middle-High Income folks wanting novelty 2.) Special needs or disabled people. In either case money was not as much of an issue and products like X10 / Insteon / ZWave were/still inferior to LonWorks / BACnet / Modbus.

    As you stated, Low-Middle income segments still need a solution and love the examples you provided. Pytomation / Misterhouse were created and actually facilitate exactly what you are describing about the lighting / motion capability, however, like most open source software it is near impossible for Joe Blow to install and setup in their homes.

    Thank you very much for writing this thoughtful commentary!!

  7. This smart product looks interesting, but I am confused, I don't know its features and functions.