SmartHome Makes School Mornings Easier

One thing all parents can agree on is that anything that can help to get our kids out the door to school on time is a good thing. 

Anyone who’s done any reading on parenting is familiar with the idea that a routine is the best thing you can do for your kids. So I decided to put together a smart home routine to give my kids some visual cues to get out the door on time. 

In an effort to make getting out the door just a little bit easier in the morning, I’ve setup a home automation trigger that causes the living room lights in my house to go to a specific color at 7:20am.  I then told the kids that when the lights go purple, it’s time to brush teeth and get their school bags ready because it’s almost time to go. 

It’s such a simple thing, just a light changing colours and yet I’ve already seen a difference my kids behaviour in the first week. I can’t promise it will work for your kids, but hey, it’s worth a shot right?

The Pieces

You’ll need the following pieces to get this working. 

  • AppleTV gen4
  • Philipps Hue color bulb

To be honest, you could probably pull this off with just IFTT and the Philipps Hue Light bulb, but I’ve got the AppleTV and this IS a HomeKit focused blog right?

Setting HomeKit Automation

I’m assuming you’ve already got the Philipps Hue coloured light bulb and the Philipps Hue bridge already available as an accessory in your Apple Home app. 

The Scene

The first thing we’re going to do is to setup the desired scene that we want to trigger upon our condition. In Apple HomeKit speak, that means setting up a scene.

We’re going to open up our Apple Home app and click on the + sign in the top right corner. Then we’re going to tap on the Add Scene button.

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We’re now going to name our new scene Time for School. Making it clear and  descriptive is always going to be helpful not just when we select it during the add automation step below, but also in the future when you decide you want to modify the colors. Next we’re going to tap on the accessories button.

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Now we’re going to scroll through the available HomeKit accessories to fine the specific lights we’re looking for. Remember, we want to use the coloured lights so I’m going to select the three coloured lights I have in my living room.

You have assigned all your HomeKit accessories to Rooms right? 

Once you’ve picked the lights you want, you tap on the Done button.

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We can see that the three accessories are now selected and assigned to the Time for School scene.We need to make sure they are selected so that when the scene is activated the lights will turn on. Looking good! But we’re not quite finished yet. Remember we want these lights turn to a specific colour, right?  So for that, we’re going to tap and hold each of the lights to set the colour.

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You’ll be presented with the accessory page where you’ll be looking for the color button. Of course, you’re going to want to tap on this button.

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You can now select from one of the options shown, or you can tap on the edit button in the middle to select your own custom colour. When I discussed this with my kids, they wanted purple as the heads-up colour. So I’m going to tap on the edit button to bring up the colour wheel and select the appropriate color.

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This might not be obvious from the picture, but this is as easy as just dragging your finger to the specific color that you want your lights to appear. Then you click the Done button. Repeat the colour steps for the lights that you’d like to use for this scenario.

Hint: You’ll want to test this out while watching your lights. The color on the app is not always the color of the bulbs. Make sure you’re happy with it. The good news is you can always come back and change it later!

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Once you’re done, you can select the Test this Scene button to make the scene is what you want it to be. Once you’re happy, select the Done button.

Hint: I usually don’t select the Show in Favourites selector for scenes which I’m going to automate. I want to set it and forget it. No point in taking up valuable screen space on a scene which I’m automatically triggering, right?

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The Automation

 

Now that we’ve setup the scene, we need to add the automation. For this, we’re gong to tap on the Automation icon at the bottom of the Apple Home app. We’re then going to scroll to the bottom of the list and tap on the Create new Automation button.

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Next we’re gong to select the A Time of Day Occurs trigger option. 

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We need to leave at 7:30am in the morning, so I’m going to give my kids a 10 minute warning. So we’ll set up the time of day trigger to occur at 7:20am only on weekday mornings. Once you’re happy, tap on the Next button.

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Now we’re going to scroll through the list and select the Time for School scene that we created above. See how helpful it is when we use good descriptive names?  Once the Time for School scene is selected, tap on the Next button.

Hint: We could have skipped the scene step above completely and just assigned the accessories directly to the automation. In my experience, this makes it hard in the future to figure out why things are happening in your house. I’ve found it much more useful to add the scene with a descriptive name which I can then edit and change in the future as my heart desires. 

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Now is the last step, we simply verify that the automation is happening at the right time and that the right scene is assigned. As you can see, the Time for School scene will activate weekday mornings at 7:30am. If you’re happy tap on the Done button.

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People tend to meet your expectations

I’m a firm believer that people, even little people, tend to meet your expectations. As long as they understand what those expectations are. In my house, the lights go purple and the kids understand that I expect them to start getting ready to get out the door.  We’ve only had this going on for a week, but I can tell you that we’ve certainly had better mornings since I put this in place.

Interested in trying this yourself? Reach out and let me know how it goes!