An Introduction to Home Assistant, the Open Source Home Automation Platform that Can Even Talk to iTunes

5 minute read
| Deep Dive

If you want to automate your smart home, you have plenty of options. Want to control your lighting and iTunes at the same time? Not so much. I did find a way to do it, though, all from a single location. It’s definitely an involved process setting it up, but it was worth it in the end. By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll have a solution that can not only manage your smart home devices, but also automatically dim your lights when you start watching a movie in iTunes. That’s right, I’m diving into Home Assistant, an open source home automation platform that can even talk to iTunes.

Before you dig into this, bear something in mind. You’ll need to have at least some Terminal skills, along with a bit of technical know-how to make this happen. I’ve tried to break everything down into easy-to-understand steps, but much of the configuration and operation of Home Assistant and the other services used aren’t for the faint of heart or the technologically impaired.

home assistant automation that can talk to itunes

Home automation is fun, but the tipping point is when you can identify a real solution to a real problem — such as automatically dimming the lights when you start playing a movie in iTunes

The Stuff You Need to Automate Smart Lights With iTunes

To make all of this happen, you’ll need a few things. Smart home accessories, obviously, but also software. For the example we’re flying with, here’s what you need to have up and running. I’ll walk you through how to set all of this up, but go ahead and purchase and/or download what you can from the links provided.

  • A Mac or Hackintosh, with the latest version of iTunes. Preferably, you should set this up with a static IP address on your Wi-Fi router
  • A Philips Hue Starter Kit, with the bulbs in your entertainment room light fixtures
  • Homebrew, which you can install using my guide
  • Python 3, which you can install from Homebrew or using John Martellaro’s guide
  • Home Assistant, an open-source, community-supported home automation service
  • Maddox’s itunes-api, a non-Apple software service that monitors and controls iTunes

You should have your Philips Hue hub and bulbs already set up, and when you see fixture names, just substitute your own.

Next: Installing Home Assistant and itunes-api

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