Skip to main content

The first Thread motion sensor adds much-needed reliability to the smart home

The new Eve Motion Sensor is speedy and stable as long as you keep Bluetooth at bay

A smart home without sensors and automations is basically a remote-controlled home. Using your voice or an app to turn lights on isn’t much easier (and in some cases is harder) than flicking on a light switch. Smart is when lights just turn on as you walk into a room. But when you walk in and they don’t turn on, that’s worse. This common smart home frustration is something the Eve Motion Sensor ($39.99), with its shiny new Thread protocol on board, promises to fix.

Thread is a mesh networking protocol designed for the smart home. It claims to be faster, more reliable, and more energy-efficient than the current smart home protocols most sensors run on — Bluetooth LE, Zigbee, and Z-Wave. (Don’t buy Wi-Fi motion sensors. They are not good.) While all of these protocols have mesh components, Thread’s selling point is that it doesn’t have a single point of failure in the form of a single hub or bridge devices need to connect to.

How we review and rate products

I have motion sensors everywhere in my house from a number of manufacturers, all working to turn my lights on and off. I also use one to kickstart my morning routine. A sensor in my bedroom tells my kettle to start boiling, turns on the lights, plays my favorite radio station from a smart speaker, and adjusts the thermostat. All I have to do is get out of bed.

But my biggest complaints are that sometimes these sensors aren’t as fast as flipping a switch, and sometimes they don’t work at all. This is often down to how they communicate. In my two weeks with the Eve Motion, I never had this problem. It worked quickly and responded reliably — as long as it was on my home’s Thread network. When it was forced over to Bluetooth (which is what the previous Eve Motion ran on), it was slower and less reliable.

The Eve Motion Sensor can sit flat on a shelf or be attached to the wall with an included screw.

The new Eve Motion is the second-generation motion sensor from the European smart home company. The biggest changes, beyond the addition of Thread, are size (it’s much smaller), price (it’s a bit cheaper), and a new additional sensor (it can now measure light levels as well). It also uses two AAA batteries instead of two AAs, but battery life is still one year, according to Eve. It keeps the water resistant IPX3 rating of the earlier model, so this is still a good option for use in a bathroom or covered porch.

Currently, Eve’s products only work on Apple’s HomeKit platform, so you need an iPhone or iPad to set this up. You also need an Apple Home hub (such as a HomePod or Apple TV) to create automations and scenes with the Eve Motion. To take advantage of the new Thread protocol, you will need a HomePod Mini or Apple TV 4K (second gen or newer). Without one of those, the sensor will work over Bluetooth LE.

I tested the Eve Motion Sensor in several rooms of my house to turn on smart lights. It performed reliably in all of them as long as it was connected to Thread.

In testing the Eve Motion to trigger lights to turn on and off based on motion and light levels in various rooms of my house — my laundry room, kitchen, dining room, and an upstairs hallway — response time was impressive. It turned them on instantly when I walked in, even in the farthest corners of my house, where Eve’s earlier Bluetooth motion sensor had struggled to keep up.

But while its reactions were excellent, the Eve Motion isn’t noticeably faster than the Hue and Aqara motion sensors I use. The big difference is it always worked. Both of those Zigbee-based sensors require a dedicated hub — that single point of failure I was talking about. The Eve Motion uses Thread, which — in a robust Thread mesh network — means it has backup options.

A Thread network can have multiple routers (smart plugs, smart bulbs) and border routers (Apple HomePod Mini, second-generation Apple TV 4K) working together to relay messages to devices. If one goes down, the motion sensor can just talk to another one. If my Hue bridge or Aqara hub get disconnected or go down, all my automations stop working.

I tested Thread’s robustness by disabling the Eve smart plug and HomePod Mini that the Eve Motion was relying on and retesting. (I can see the Thread network topology in Eve’s app.) It always continued to work, and while the network did take a few moments to reconfigure when a device went offline, I didn’t have to do any troubleshooting other than waiting a few seconds.

The only time I had any other issues with the Eve Motion was when I disabled all my Thread devices. Then the sensor kicked over to Bluetooth, and the reaction speed dropped dramatically — taking over five seconds in some places to respond to motion.

Eve has said all its Thread devices will support Matter when the smart home standard is released later this year. And when it arrives, there will be many more Thread border routers and devices the Eve Motion can rely on — including smart speakers from Google and Amazon. You’ll also be able to use Eve’s motion sensor and its other Thread products with those smart home platforms when Matter launches. But for now, it’s Apple HomeKit only.

In Apple’s Home app, you can set motion or light level automations. There are options to trigger during specific times of day or only when people are home. The lights can also turn off after a set time (up to four hours).

Setting up the Eve Motion was simple, open the Apple Home app or Eve app and scan the HomeKit code. You can then set up automations using the sensor. The Home app will suggest some for you based on which room you’ve placed it in. You can also create your own using “motion detected” or “no motion detected” as triggers.

The new LUX sensor in the Eve Motion also lets you create automations based on how bright it is in a room. For example, you can set it not to trigger lights on motion if the room is bright enough already. It can also pair with smart shades, such as Eve’s MotionBlinds, to adjust the shades based on the light level in the room.

From left: the original Eve motion sensor; the second-gen Eve; and the similar-looking Philips Hue Motion Sensor.

Here is where I would have liked to see a temperature sensor included — which is in the Philips Hue sensor, this model’s closest competition. I live in the South, where it gets very hot, and I like to create automations that close the shades in a room if both the light level is high and the temperature rises above 78 degrees Fahrenheit. You could do this with Eve by adding an Eve Room or Eve Weather sensor, both of which detect temperature, but those cost $99 and $80, respectively, whereas the Hue Motion Sensor is $45.

Bear in mind that the more advanced automations work best when set up in the Eve app, as the Home app is limited when it comes to setting multiple conditions (unless you use the complicated Shortcuts workaround). The Eve app adds more options, such as only triggering motion in darkness, adjusting the motion sensitivity (low / medium / high), and changing the motion re-trigger time. This last one is helpful to tweak if you find your lighting automations keep turning off sooner than you want.

Eve’s app offers more advanced automations, data insight, and an overview of your Thread network. It shows all HomeKit devices — not just Eve products.

Overall, I was impressed with the Eve Motion and can see how this type of reliability and speed can make the smart home a better experience. But while there are more Thread border routers and compatible devices today than there were just a year ago, there still aren’t enough to make this an unequivocal recommendation. And Thread border routers from different manufacturers still can’t talk to each other (although a fix is coming).

If you don’t have any type of Thread network set up in your home, don’t buy this. Without Thread, the Eve Motion reverts to Bluetooth LE, which is nowhere near as fast or reliable as Zigbee or Thread. If all you want is to turn lights on and off, you’ll be better off with the excellent Philips Hue Motion Sensor ($45 plus a Hue bridge). The Hue app has much simpler automation options for lighting control, and it works with Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Samsung SmartThings.

However, if you are like me and are gearing your smart home up to work with Matter when the standard arrives later this year, this little gadget will be an excellent block on which to build a truly smart home.

Photos by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Source: The Verge

Popular posts from this blog

FCC approves broadband 'nutrition labels' to help you shop for internet

The FCC is pushing nutrition labels for internet providers. What you need to know The FCC has voted to move forward with new rules for ISPs to display nutrition labels. The proposed rulemaking would mandate ISPs to display relevant speed and pricing information to consumers. This should make it easier for consumers to make an informed decision on their broadband. The FCC voted unanimously on a plan that would allow consumers to make better decisions about their broadband internet. The proposal will require internet service providers (ISPs) - including many of the best wireless carriers in the U.S. — to display "nutrition labels" that display relevant service information for consumers at point-of-sale. This includes internet speeds, allowances, and clear information on rates. "If you walk into any grocery store and pull boxes of cereal from the shelves, you can easily compare calories and carbohydrates," FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statemen

Slack’s new integration deal with AWS could also be about tweaking Microsoft

Slack and Amazon announced a big integration late yesterday afternoon. As part of the deal, Slack will use Amazon Chime for its call feature, while reiterating its commitment to use AWS as its preferred cloud provider to run its infrastructure. At the same time, AWS has agreed to use Slack for internal communications. Make no mistake, this is a big deal as the SaaS communications tool increases its ties with AWS, but this agreement could also be about slighting Microsoft and its rival Teams product by making a deal with a cloud rival. In the past Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield has had choice words for Microsoft saying the Redmond technology giant sees his company as an “existential threat.” Whether that’s true or not — Teams is but one piece of a huge technology company — it’s impossible not to look at the deal in this context. Aligning more deeply with AWS sends a message to Microsoft, whose Azure infrastructure services compete with AWS. Butterfield didn’t say that of course

Yandex spins out self-driving car unit from its Uber JV, invests $150M into newco

Self-driving cars are still many years away from becoming a ubiquitous reality, but today one of the bigger efforts to build and develop them is taking a significant step out as part of its strategy to be at the forefront for when they do. Yandex — the publicly-traded Russian tech giant that started as a search engine but has expanded into a number of other, related areas (similar to US counterpart Google) — today announced that it is spinning out its self-driving car unit from MLU BV — a ride-hailing and food delivery joint venture it operates in partnership with Uber. The move comes amid reports that Yandex and Uber were eyeing up an IPO for MLU  last year. At the time, the JV was estimated to be valued at around $7.7 billion. It’s not clear how those plans will have been impacted in recent months, with COVID-19 putting huge pressure on ride-hailing and food-delivery businesses globally, and IPOs generally down compared to a year ago. In that context, spinning out the unit could

Elon Musk sends yet another notice trying to terminate the Twitter deal

Kristen Radtke / The Verge; Getty Images Elon Musk has sent a third letter to Twitter attempting to terminate his $44 billion acquisition of the company . Musk’s legal team cited Twitter’s multimillion dollar severance payment to former security chief and whistleblower Peiter Zatko as a violation of the merger agreement and a reason to end the deal. The letter, dated September 9th, was sent to Twitter’s chief legal officer Vijaya Gadde, and was included in a filing Twitter made with the SEC on Friday (which you can read at the bottom of this article). Last month, Zatko made headlines by accusing Twitter of misleading investors about the number of bots on the service, failing to delete users’ data, and having poor security practices, among other things. Musk jumped on the accusations, citing them in his second termination letter and subpoenaing Zatko to testify in the lawsuit. Zatko was set to be deposed on Friday. Elon Musk sent his first letter of termination in July , say