Aqara prepares to launch next generation occupancy sensor

Cupertino, October 11, 2021

Smart home behemoth-in-waiting Aqara prepares for release (initially in mainland China, of course) of its latest sensor device, the Aqara Human Presence Sensor FP1. You are forgiven if you think, "oh great, another motion sensor"But for once we have something completely new, as this device does not rely on a PIR sensor that you would find in standard motion detection devices, and certainly does not use any kind of pixel-based detection that you find in smart cameras. The FP1 uses a technology referred to as mmWave which Wikipedia states thusly;

Radio waves in this band have wavelengths from ten to one millimeter, which is why it's also called the millimeter band and radiation in this band is called millimeter waves, sometimes abbreviated MMW or mmWave.

As a result, the sensor is able to detect people with much more accuracy than a standard PIR (Passive InfraRed) sensor, which relies on measuring infrared light emitted from objects in its field of view. This, according to Aqara's blurb, can really resolve whether or not there really is someone in the room, even when that person is pretty much motionless (i.e. asleep). By using 60GHz millimeter wave technology, along with a horizontal angle of 120º, and radial detection of real-time dynamics within a 5-meter radius, the homeowner gets a much more accurate picture of occupancy.

With the upcoming release of a refreshed Aqara Home app interface, the FP1 gets several ways to leverage its presence detection capabilities; so you get standard presence detection in its simplest form, with no specific preconditions, real-time tracking of people or pets in specific locations, motion detection based on direction (i.e. left, right), and even detection based on distance.

You also get options for region mapping, if you're aware of specific movements that you can't change, but don't need to be aware of at certain times, as well as completely excluding specific areas, and even different modes, as explained earlier.

The use of the FP1 would theoretically boost the use cases for motion detection in rooms like bathrooms, where you want to turn off lights when they're not being used, but don't want them to go out when you're lying motionless in a warm relaxing bath, or in a living room, where there may be a lot more activity, but lights should go out when the room is really not being used, but not when you're watching a movie with only a few mood lights in use.

Looking at the images above, you can see that the same standard design used in the Aqara Camera Hub G2H is used here, so mounting to a wall or ceiling is possible, and as with the G2H, there is a power cable attached to the sensor, which due to the nature of its detection method requires power that would not be sufficient with batteries.

And like the Aqara G2H, the stand can rotate to give you the best possible position, and offers both a magnetic plate to hold the FP in place, which can be screwed in place, or attached with the included adhesive patch.

As with almost all Aqara products to date, the FP1 will be compatible with HomeKit, although according to the Aqara website, compatibility won't come until the end of January 2022. However, this does not mean that the sensor cannot be used in the Aqara app, where it will be able to function as intended. The only question that remains is how else it will work within the limitations of HomeKit, if at all, as at this point the details about blind detection periods may no longer apply.

The price in mainland China is currently RMB399, which roughly equates to US$63.00, UK£47.00, or €56.00, so not as cheap as their current sensor line-up, and there's also no word on if and when this will be released internationally, but then this really is a "horse of a different colour" so to speak!

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