As noted in my Macworld/iWorld 2014 talk on using Siri to control the "Internet of Things", there's one big problem in the home automation world right now -- too many standards! Now I know that sounds like a contradiction in terms, but there are a number of competing standards available: Z-Wave, Zigbee, Insteon, Sonos, Belkin WeMo and more. Several manufacturers are attempting to corral this stampeding herd of standards with smart hubs. We've already reviewed one here at TUAW (the US$99 SmartThings Hub) and now it's time to take a look at the $299 Revolv Smart Home Hub and the companion app that controls it.
Over the past few years I've been building up my home automation world by purchasing bits and pieces as I've had a chance. As a result, I have a number of Belkin WeMo switches, wall switches, and motion sensors, some SmartThings sensors (moisture, motion), and some other Z-Wave devices that I've picked up along the way. In this review, I'll tell you about how the Revolv hub is set up, how it recognizes and controls the various devices, and how the free Revolv iPhone app works to tie all of your home automation devices together.
The Revolv Smart Home Hub is incredibly simple to install. You just plug in the included AC adapter and plug the other end into the red teardrop-shaped hub. There's no need to run an Ethernet cable to the Revolv hub, which is quite different from competing hubs. Instead, you launch the Revolv app and tap a button to begin the new hub setup. That basically requires you to identify the network that your iPhone and the Revolv hub will be on, and then enter the password for that network. Once that's done, you're asked to put the camera flash from your iPhone right over the top center of the hub, and the fireworks begin.
What kind of fireworks? Well, all sorts of rapid-fire flashing takes place as your iPhone communicates to the hub via light. Wait a short while and then the hub is up and running. At that point, you can have it begin to search for connected devices on your network.