HomeKit compatible Thread Border Router other than HomePod Mini

Started by PBA

PBA

I've just bought 6 Essential light bulbs - they're fantastic. Bluetooth - not so much.

I'm a HomeKit user, but I won't be buying HomePod mini's, as I'm heavily invested in another smart home speaker ecosystem (Sonos).

I've tried the OpenThread Border Router, but there seems to be some Bluetooth magic going on that OTBR doesn't know about.

I really want a HomeKit compatible Thread Border Router that is plug and play. Some options would be:

  • Nanoleaf HomeKit Border Router that plugs into a wall socket. Low cost enough so I can sprinkle them about the house to extend coverage if needed.
  • HomeKit Border router built into another, "always on" Nanoleaf product, such as your upcoming light switch.

Some wilder ideas:

  • Contribute to or Fork OTBR project for Raspberry Pi, and add HomeKit commissioning features. (Not really plug and play, but I'm technical enough to live with this for now.)
  • Work with Sonos to get HomePod Mini-like Thread BR features into their product (especially if it can be done in software only)

BenStein

Agreed. I just built an OTBR compliant router but can’t for the life of me figure out how to join a Nanoleaf device to it. Would love to not be tied to a HomePod just to use Thread. It does have a compliant Bluetooth module, but I need information like it’s IEEE EUI-64 or that in a QR code or something to be able to get the router to scan for the device.

Lightbow

Echoing the above, I'm very interested in the Thread capabilities of the new Nanoleaf hardware, but wondering if it is really Thread, or they just happen to use Thread plus some magic bits specific to HomeKit / HomePod mini.

Specifically—
1) Is there any official word whether it will be possible to control "Thread-capable" Nanoleaf lights using something other than HomePod mini, or are they only with certain "certified" border routers? (in which case what's the point of the Thread standard…)
2) In this new world order where Nanoleaf uses Thread to communicate with (hopefully any) Thread border routers, does this mean there will be some published set of commands? I'm hoping developers can use Thread to exercise the full gamut of capabilities like the Nanoleaf API, and not some limited set (or limited throughput), or channeled exclusively through HomeKit.
3) Can a developer actually direct Thread commands to a light via the HomePod mini (configured as a Thread border router), or is that just an implementation detail between the HomePod mini and the light, but HomeKit is the only way to "speak" to the light?

bnounu

+1. I don't like that I have to wait a few seconds for my phone to connect my LED strip each time I want to change something. I got a thread dongle and set up a Border Router. I was disappointed to find out that I can't add the LED strip to the thread network.

jonny

Would also like some information on this - I'm keen to develop an integration for home assistant to support thread devices including nanoleaf essentials in particular

Josh N

Thanks for all the valuable feedback and suggestions! This has been noted and will be sent to over to our team for them to look into so we can enhance and improve our experience for the future!

Sharpen_Up

I don't think *Josh.N post is very credible…
anywho

Also echoing a lot of (if not all) comments past and present.
It would be nice if we could just utilize the thread enabled essentials bulbs as FED's within our networks to start with… seeing as one of the key marketing points is that it plays well with all other devices running thread stack.
Could it not be a quick addition to the device info field on the nanoleaf app? To at least display EUI64 info and (I may be pushing it) but its current thread config.
Guessing the current 'compatible' thread boarder routers utilize bluetooth to do some wizardry in joining it to its thread network.

TheTofu

With the current essentials bulbs being confirmed as not supporting Matter, are there any plans to open up thread integration to any devices other than what's currently on the market?

I've been trying to get my Essentials bulbs and light strip to provision to an OpenThread Border Router but have had zero luck getting them to actually do anything as the app does not show any active thread network, and trying to pair them with a python based HomeKit controller over BLE has also been largely unsuccessful.

It would be nice if there was any information at all as to what the bulbs need for thread support (such as whether they support Thread 1.1/1.2/1.3/or some other nonpublic version?), or if any information could be exposed to use an OpenThread (or any other thread) commissioner.

TheTofu

If you replying to me, I'm already using an nRF52840 dongle for thread, I can see the thread network using a sniffer or the actual thread app, but the nanoleaf app never shows any thread network.

Gary Funk

@TheTofu
I take it that you were one of the first members of this forum.

Your complaint is the same as mine and others. The Nanoleaf Thread Border Router is useless if the devices can't be controlled without having to use an Internet based device. The current implementation is anything but Open.

A Router of any kind should be able to join another network and other devices should be able to join the Router. I'm going to follow your lead and I'd like to know more about your hardware and software.

Best regards,
Gary

TheTofu

@"Gary Funk"
I only joined the forum recently but have been tinkering with tech for a long time, I'm mainly using home assistant and have been wanting to integrate nanoleaf bulbs without having to buy a homepod or nanoleaf controller but I don't think I have much choice.

I just have a few NRF52840 dongles I've been tinkering with, using one as a co-processor for an openthread border router running on my server, and 2 more as testers/sniffers. I can use NRF Connect app to view BLE GATT characteristics, but none of it is labeled, I also used wireshark with an NRF52840 dongle programmed to BLE sniffer to see if I can suss out how the nanoleaf app pairs and controls the bulbs, or how google home setup works, but I don't have enough skill or knowledge to make much headway.

If you have a supported border router you can look into this thread for control: https://community.home-assistant.io/t/homekit-accessory-protocol-hap-over-coap-udp-was-nanoleaf-essentials-bulb-via-thread-coap/335167/92

I tried to pair it through BLE to a couple of python homekit controllers but neither gave me much luck. ( https://github.com/jlusiardi/homekit_python and https://github.com/Apollon77/hap-controller-node )

I may try to do some more BLE tinkering when I have some time and feel like bashing my head against a wall. I have a feeling the homekit support is what locks out matter support since homekit is a different protocol from Matter, and while apple is going to eventually support Matter, I doubt Apple is going to do the work to make Homekit bidirectional with Matter, likely only allowing Matter devices to be added to and controlled from Homekit but not vice versa.