Using iControl to turn my lights on/off via my Apple Watch

I’ve used Wise Controls hardware and software (www.wisecontrols.com) for many years now to control my lights around my house.  I’m very sure the world has moved on from a technology view point and there are better solutions out there but it works for me.   This is a picture of a 5M long multi-colour LED strip in my kitchen all controlled wirelessly.  LED Lighting

I’ve been able to control my lights from my iPhone for a while using this interface.  It is ok, but can’t do many things and the tooling is not updated by the firm.

Wise Controls

So I could automatically schedule my lights and remotely trigger them I managed to reverse engineer the interface and it is very simple to trigger an already configured signal.

For example:
Turn on : http://192.168.1.50/GestisciBottone.txt?02P1
Turn off : http://192.168.1.50/GestisciBottone.txt?02P2

I started writing an Apple Watch interface to do the same but stumbled upon this great project instead that has a great iOS and WatchOS interface, and is easy configurable.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/icontrol-we

For a configuration standpoint it is very flexible and easy to insert the URLs as above. For example:

{
“pageLabel”: “General”,
“timeout”: 2,
“compactHeight”: false,
“controls”: [{
“button1”: “on”,
“button2”: “off”,
“cmd1”: http://192.168.1.50/GestisciBottone.txt?02P1”,
“cmd1Id”: “uniqueCmdId1M”,
“cmd2”: http://192.168.1.50/GestisciBottone.txt?02P2”,
“cmd2Id”: “uniqueCmdId2M”,
“headline1”: “Stair Lights”,
“sizeType”: “medium”
}

This is what it looks like in its simplest form on my watch.

Watch Interface

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Mechanical Watch or Smart Watch, Hybrid or Both?

I love mechanical watches, whether manual or automatic, chronographs, chronometer certified or not.   Recently I’ve had my eye on an IWC Portuguiser 7 Day Automatic and an Oris Calibre 111 10 day non-linear manual, both amazing watches at very different price points.  During my pondering and over-analysis of the market and my daily near addiction to new news on the Watchville app, Apple announced and released their first generation Apple Watch.

I’ve been in this position before in the early 2000’s, where I bought an amazing portable Sony Minidisk player just as Apple were introducing the iPod – I bet on the wrong horse that time and don’t want to be in the same position again.

So, should I be wearing a mechanical watch or a smart watch, and when is a good situation to wear each?

Given the price of the decent mechanical watches, the Apple Watch is considerably cheaper so I bought an Apple Sport watch as a bit of an experiment event though I usually avoid first generation products.

Here are pros/cons for the Apple Watch from my own experience.

Pros

  • Apple Pay – The killer app so far in my mind, hands free purchasing – even on the London underground
  • Accuracy – The watch is highly accurate – a £10k watch will probably gain/loose 2 seconds a day
  • Notifications – Weather, Messages, Emails, Calendar reminders, London Tube status
  • Passbook – Flight QR code boarding passes
  • Health – Water notifications, stand ups, distance walked, heart rate (to my Polar Bluetooth HR strap too)
  • Fitness – Logging exercise and daily activity challenges – I sync to Fitbit as well
  • Notes – My conference PIN for a quick lookup whilst I’m one the phone
  • Apps – Citymapper, Samsung TV remote
  • Voice activated timer – especially whilst cooking with messy hands
  • Battery life for a city lifestyle is good enough, usually end the day with 40-50% remaining
  • Hands free talking to allow you to do other things and not scramble for a headset

Cons

  • Limited individualism except by having a variety of straps
  • Meeting etiquette – when is it ok to look at your watch during a meeting without looking bored?
  • You need to move your wrist/arm or click to show the Clock face – major issue for me, maybe custom subtle gestures?
  • Apps I’d really like – Spotify & Sonos controllers.
  • Remove the need to have the iPhone nearby
  • Faster native Apps are required
  • Battery life for multi-day traveling is a concern
  • Not waterproof enough to swim or shower with
  • I am also used to continuous heart rate monitoring and sleep pattern logging with my Fitbit HR

So far, five weeks in I’m loving my smart watch.  First small scratch yesterday, but then again the watch is £300 not £10,000.  Maybe watches should be more throw away in nature.   Progress is certainly difficult to come to terms with but the Apple Watch is massive progress over a mechanical watch.  Right now if they can fix the clock face issue to always be on, I very much doubt I will go back.  I’ve tried wearing two watches on different arms with a long shirt – but it is odd and slightly embarassing and makes no logical sense.

I have been to the theatre recently and was concerned about the brightness in a darkened environment, but after a few configuration changes made it work, however, could have been trouble with it lighting up like a Christmas tree unexpectedly.

I am spending money on straps though since they are so easy to swap out and add a hint of individualisms although no way as much a traditional watch, especially uber-cool HYT hydromechanical watches.  I’ve bought black leather, brown leather, pilot style black leather with white stitching, sports bands and traditional 22mm pin bands too with an innovative crowd-funded adapter.

Don’t get me wrong it is not perfect, but for a First Gen. product and operating system it is amazing.  Let’s see what WatchOS 2 brings our way – free upgrades, don’t see that with mechanical watches.   I’m planning a week in Vietnam soon and the Apple Watch will stay a home and instead I will probably trust a mechanical waterproof dive Omega instead.

My coveted IWC or Oris watches are moving down my purchase list for now but for sure they still have their place for special occasions.

Maybe there will be a place for a Hybrid watch with the best of both smart and mechanical worlds – I hope so.

HYT H2 Hydromechanical
 Oris Big Crown ProPilot Calibre 111 10 Day non-linear
IWC 7 Day Automatic Portuguiser
Image from IWC.com