Unlike proprietary home automation platforms, Home Assistant is an entirely different solution. Not only is it an open source project, but it can run locally to a user's network. No third party is necessary! Until now, though, the software was used mainly by DIY enthusiasts that were comfortable building their own computer to host it. Nabu Casa has introduced Home Assistant Amber as a ready-to-go personal home automation hardware appliance to address a broader market.
"Take control of your home as never before." — Nabu Casa
Home Assistant Amber is a custom circuit board that accepts a Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 (CM4). The board has I/O ports and fits inside of a custom injection molded case. The final product looks more like a router you would buy from a retailer and less like a hardware project. That said, there is also a kit version of Home Assistant Amber available where you can add your own CM4.
In addition to the CM4's standard features, Amber adds a Gigabit Ethernet port with optional Power-Over-Ethernet (PoE), a Silicon Labs MGM210P Mighty Gecko ZigBee Module, and an M.2 expansion slot.
Based on the Crowd Supply page, PoE is only available in the kit version. Otherwise, Home Assistant Amber has a DC barrel jack. Nabu Casa says the device draws less than 10 watts when under load and as little as 1.5 watts when idle. (More if NVMe is installed.)T
he Silicon Labs Mighty Gecko Module supports ZigBee, OpenThread, and Matter. Support for these 2.4 GHz standards enables Home Assistant and Amber to communicate with many off-the-shelf commercial devices originally intended for proprietary ecosystems. (The MGM210P does support Bluetooth 5.1, but the campaign page does not mention BT or BLE support.)
Offering an M.2 expansion slot gives the end-user at least two distinct options for upgrading Home Assistant Amber. One potential upgrade is to an NVMe SSD drive. And the other option is a PCIe x1 device like an AI accelerator. For example, Nabu Casa says inserting a Google Coral into this slot gives Home Assistant Amber machine learning capabilities.
Home Assistant is an open source project for home automation. One of the key features is running 100% on a local network, meaning it does not rely on a cloud-based solution. There are over 1,000 compatible devices and services. A significant and highly active community of users further strengthens the ecosystem.
If you never heard of Nabu Casu before, it is a company formed by the creators of the Home Assistant project. However, they are not entirely new to hardware. Previously they worked on a single board computer version of a product called Home Assistant Blue. Amber is a natural successor to that no longer available but still supported project.
Nabu Casa offers Home Assistant Amber via a Crowd Supply campaign. AND it has already passed its funding goal! The out-of-the-box version with a CM4 module is available for $149 before shipping. The kit versions, without the CM4 module, are available for $99 before shipping. Additionally, the kit version is available with either the PoE option or a standalone power supply.
For more information, visit the Home Assistant Amber Crowd Supply campaign page.