Aqara’s new HomeKit-enabled wares include powerful hub, smart plug and lock


Aqara Hub M3
The new Aqara Hub M3 can help your run your whole smart home.
Photo: Aqara

Aqara highlighted new HomeKit-enabled smart-home devices at CES 2024 Monday in Las Vegas — the new Hub M3, Border Router Plug and Smart Lock U300 — plus an AI chatbot interface for the Aqara Home App.

The devices support both Matter and Thread networking standards. And the hub may help you control your whole smart home.

Aqara at CES 2024: New Hub M3, Border Router Plug and Lock U300, plus app AI chatbot

The launch of the long-awaited Hub M3 is Aqara’s biggest news from CES 2024. That’s because the multi-protocol hub stands to help people manage their smart homes through HomeKit or another platform quite easily.

The hub’s connectivity over Thread, Zigbee 3.0, dual-band Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and/or infrared (IR) broadens the scope of Aqara and third-party devices it can bring together under the Matter protocol.

Through a process called binding, connected devices and their automations can continue to work even without the hub. And for peace of mind, the hub also uses optional Power over Ethernet (PoE) and includes backup mirroring if you use more than one.

The new Aqara Hub M3 should ship in the second quarter of 2024, the company said.

Aqara’s new Border Router Plug and Smart Lock U300 will be Thread-capable, too, and should ship within a couple of months. They add to Aqara’s list of Matter products that are interoperable with products from other companies.

Border Router Plug

Aqara Border Router Plug
The smart plug functions as a Thread border router connecting smart-home devices.
Photo: Aqara

The Aqara Border Router Plug is in the early wave of smart plugs that incorporate Thread Border Router capabilities. Equipped with Thread and dual-band Wi-Fi, it lets Matter controllers without Thread networking capability control Thread devices. That makes it easier to integrate Thread devices into smart homes without needing a new Matter controller.

The plug is energy-efficient, but becomes more-so in Thread-only mode. It reduces idle consumption while extending the mesh Thread network by routing the data packets.

Aqara also called the plug “energy-conscious,” as it provides “real-time and historical data on home energy consumption, enabling users to automate their electrical devices to reduce energy waste.”

In addition, the Border Router Plug senses the on/off status of the connected appliance and triggers Aqara Home automations as needed. Aqara gave the example of a user having  the curtains close automatically when the TV turns on to lessen glare on the screen.

Here’s more of Aqara’s description of the plug:

The Aqara Border Router Plug utilizes an NXP Semiconductors’ secure wireless MCU. As part of the ongoing collaboration between Aqara and NXP Semiconductors, the Border Router Plug will also be featured in NXP’s Smart Home Experience showcase during CES 2024, along with the NXP-powered Aqara Door and Window Sensor P2.

Smart Lock U300

Aqara Smart Lock U300
The new Smart Lock U300 supports Matter and Thread networking.
Photo: Aqara

Aqara Smart Lock U300 features Matter and Thread compatibility, meaning  interoperability with various smart home platforms. It also boasts extended battery life of up to 8 months and enhanced local control, which improves responsiveness, privacy and security, the company said:

Designed for both indoor and outdoor use, the U300 replaces the traditional US lever or knob on single-bore doors and is ideal for including side entries, garage entries, home offices, basements and storage rooms. It enables a key-free lifestyle with multiple access options, including fingerprints, PIN codes, NFC, or voice assistants. Homeowners can control the lock remotely, grant temporary access to guests, and receive real-time notifications of who comes and goes — all from a smartphone.

Aqara Home Copilot app update

Aqara also showcased Home Copilot at the electronics show. The new chatbot interface for the Aqara Home app is powered by generative artificial intelligence.

Home Copilot uses ambient intelligence to help convert real-time data and insights into actions, Aqara said. The goal is for Home Copilot to analyze usage patterns in a home and suggest customized automations. It will understand natural language and configure automations per user requests. So users can more-easily automate their homes via voice and text instructions.

But its capabilities will emerge gradually, the company said:

Initially, Home Copilot will enable Aqara Insights, a daily, weekly and monthly smart home reports for users, and provide tailored plans for energy-saving automation. It will support natural language queries for Aqara devices and automations and offer proactive assistance with device setup and troubleshooting. Home Copilot will also spearhead the AI-powered customer support interface for Aqara users in over 10 languages.

Source: Aqara for Hub M3 and  other devices and app updates


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