We’ve updated the article to reflect further product details, many of which were missed due to our inability to translate everything discussed in Mandarin at the event. Thanks to Edwin Wang for the additional details.
Aqara held its now annual product event in China today, which this year featured, perhaps unsurprisingly, a ton of new products. This included a new range of wall-mounted smart control panels, some sensors and switches, alongside some more familiar products that have emerged more recently, independently of this event.
The most impressive set of new devices were the range of Aqara MagicPads, which come in three basic sizes and add to the original S1 Panel (which we’ll be reviewing soon, promise). All feature full-colour touch-sensitive displays, and are designed to control a variety of Aqara products. They aren’t able to control non-Aqara branded products, regardless of whether they’re HomeKit compatible or not, although virtually all of Aqara products are in fact HomeKit compatible anyway. Also, like the S1 panel, it would seem that the square sizes are also exposed to HomeKit, as regular wall switches, but with touch-screen control. these displays will not only be able to be controlled via touch, but via voice, gestures, including the ability to distinguish between users.
The MagicPads, also apparently include hubs, as well as feature Aqara’s own AI assistant, much like one would find on Xiaomi audio and video products (Xiao AI), with the Aqara version, apparently called Xiao Qiao (小乔), that uses a display UI and voice assistant. This AI tech will focus on being optimised to work with children, the elderly, and pet care. The tech and algorithms used within the smart assistant are also present in the Aqara G3 camera. On the subject of cameras, it would also seem that the live feed from Aqara cameras is also viewable from the MagicPads, which also includes the possibility to make calls – we assume these would either connect to your phone to make outside calls, or just as likely work as an intercom system within the home between different MagicPads.
The MagicPads are designed to fit in with Aqara’s high-end H1 range of devices, which involve single, double, and triple rocker switches, along with single, double and a dial-based dimmer switch, a smart outlet, a smart outlet with a built-in Zigbee 3.0 hub, and what appears to be an H1 version of the Aqara Cube. This is all part of the company’s ‘Magic Anywhere’ approach, which involves interactive control of devices using voice, gestures, wireless switches & buttons, as well as touch control via displays and the Aqara Cube.
Aqara showed off a couple of brand new sensors – a new motion sensor, and a contact sensor, alongside the recently released TVOC monitor. These are part of the new P-range, which claims to have up to a five-year battery life, with the devices becoming available (in Mainland China) in the second half of 2021.
Whilst Aqara have confirmed that their newer Zigbee hubs will work with lighting products to make use of Apple’s Adaptive Lighting functionality, the company don’t have too many lighting products outside of China, but today Aqara revealed more lighting fixtures that include track lighting, light strips and downlights, all we presume will be Zigbee 3.0. The product range is translated from the original Mandarin, as “True Wireless Whole House Dimming Pro”.
One of the screens revealed some of the company’s devices, including the soon to be released Aqara G3 camera, which we reported on last week.
From the video, it would appear that the G3 has the rumoured gesture recognition as well as pan and tilt functionality.
One device that seems to have sneaked under the radar is a sensor that appears to be a new occupancy sensor, that does in fact use some form of radar technology, referred to as ‘mmWave Radar’ to detect the presence of humans (occupancy), directional movement, and even distance/range detection, and spatial positioning, although the image in question features merely the briefest of descriptions as to what it can fully do, so hopefully, even more details will emerge on this new device soon.
Other technological advances mentioned include Mars-Tech (smart switches working with smart lighting), Ark-Tech, which will somehow allow devices to work without WiFi or even a gateway, which could be part of, or similar to what we may see with Matter products when they start to appear. The company were even keen to stress that they’re going all-in on supporting as many protocols and communication methods as possible, including staples like WiFi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee, as well as LoRa, NB-IoT, Matter, UWB (Ultra Wide Band), RF433MHz, KNX, Modbus, PLC and more. Aqara also announced the official sub-brand Eigenstone, which up until now has been restricted to being used with their Aqara compatible Thermostat range.
How many of these products end up being available outside of Mainland China remains to be seen, but a product range this vast really does cement Aqara’s reputation as a prime mover in the smart home game.