Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Control your Network Connected Devices

Today I want to tell you about a little epiphany I had a few weeks back. I realized that I could connect firebase to a local nodejs server and a public facing website, and control my roku.

Most people read this and think....well duh you can already control your roku using your phone. At this time (please prove me wrong) you need to be on your Intranet. Your Intranet is the network in your house that your roku is on, so basically you have to be on the same wifi as your roku.

This means you can setup a website using firebase to authenticate you, connect to a common data point in your database and now control things in your house from ANYWHERE as long as both have an internet connection. So I could be in Hong Kong and change the channel on my roku.

Ok, big deal why should I care? Well what if I told you that your roku isn't the only device that connects to the internet? You can query for all these devices, setup commands for them, and control them from anywhere! Forgot a light on in the house when you left? With (some) devices you can check the status and turn it off/on. This kinda makes that whole "internet" of things a lot closer to reality without completely opening up your network, the only "failure" point here is if your firebase gets hacked or something.

But you want code....

Here is the side that runs in your house (and you could also just run this on a raspberry pi or something instead of a dedicated full blown computer).

Right now I have my own rolled roku controller, but I think there is one in npm already that I haven't checked out. You can control your Chromecast this way. Possibly smart tv's etc.

Details for the people who are interested:

Node Side:
1. Start server
2. Server does a query for network devices and adds them to a list.
3. Server pushes list to myfirebaseurl/mediadevices
4. Server then sets up a callback to trigger when a child changes (state specifically).
5. Server sets up functions to handle deleting devices in mediadevices when it closes (this is to ensure that the devices are always accessible).

AngularJS side:
1. Connect to myfirebaseurl/mediadevices
2. Associate NG model to a dropdown (that's how I'm swapping between, if you have other ideas I'd love to hear them).
3. When a button is pressed, it looks at which device is selected and changes it's state to whatever mode that button is designed to accomplish.
4. If the server is removed then mediadevices is empty and the dropdown goes away.

Let me know what you think! If you have a chromecast, amazontv, etc that you want to build this on, or want to lend me to build it on, lemme know I'd love to chat!