Basalte Auro - first impressions

Basalte are a Belgian company that have been around a while and have had a series of very interesting products for some time.  Most of their product range has worked on KNX or RS-485 buses and, as such, was not as straight-forward as it might be to interface with Crestron systems.

Crestron now offer third parties a chip (C2N-CONNECTED-CHIP) to make their devices CresNET enabled. The chip allows them to make keypads, sensors and so on, native CresNET devices (with up to 32 inputs and 32 outputs for each of digital, serial and analogue data).

Basalte have now done this with their Auro Motion Sensor and Sentido switches; I also believe that their Deseo thermostat is on the roadmap to become CresNETified (that's a word now ;)).

Today, we're looking the the Auro motion sensor - though it is a lot more than a motion sensor as we'll see.  For transparency, I was sent a unit for evaluation by Ivory Egg the Basalte distributor here in the UK.  We have a lot of projects coming up with these specified and I asked for a unit just to be fully conversant with it and ensure I understand it's potential and any limitations.

Motion detection and occupancy sensing are becoming more and more widely used in residential applications. Not only can it offer large benefits in terms of simply being able to walk into an area and have the lights come on; it also means we can turn lights off in areas when there is no-one in them.  Bathrooms, closets, hallways, garages are all areas where, in general, we don't need a huge amount of fine control of scenes, but just want lights to be on when we walk in there (that's not to say we can't make the lighting do different things at different times of the day, or even based on the current Lux level).

From being fairly sparsely used, I now regularly see projects with 20 or more occupancy sensors on them.  Crestron (and Lutron) offer their own occupancy sensors and these do work very well, but can be a little aesthetically challenging in the higher tiers of the residential sector. 

This is where the Auro hits the nail on the head - the product looks great.  Really great.  Simple and clean looking (available in white or black - the black version doesn't have the Lux sensor though.  It did also look like the front could pop off easily enough to be painted to match ceilings (obviously likely to impact warranty, so your call on whether to do that).  The unit is also available in a wall-mount version including options to match the rest of your Basalte switches etc.

So, beyond looking less visually obtrusive that other options, what does the Auro do?

Motion sensing (obviously!) - this is simple PIR motion sensing and does not use the dual-technologies of some the higher end (but much physically larger and not something that many interior designers would accept) Crestron units that also feature ultrasonic detection for even better performance.  

The unit can be mounted up to 5m up, but a typical ceiling height of 2.5m gives a detection coverage of around 5m in diameter - it's not quite as good as the equivalent Crestron units, but it's more than enough for the typical applications it will be used in.

Lux sensing - the Auro has a built in light sensor that can be used for a variety of different applications.  It could be used to simply bring the night-light on below a certain Lux level or it could be used to drive logic to bring lighting on to a certain level based on the current Lux reading (ensuring lighting doesn't get turned on if it's a bright and sunny day, but if it's a grey and overcast day, you might need lighting to come on at a lowish level to fill the area a little).

Temperature sensing - whilst not quite as useful as the Lux sensing, it's certainly has applications and could be linked into a BMS/HVAC system for additional temperature monitoring.

Night-light - this is actually what I think is the coolest feature of this sensor!  The Auro has a really nice LED glow to it that is more than enough to guide you down a corridor etc. at night.  It dims in and out beautifully and is a very nice feature.  It can simply operate when there is motion detected or, with Crestron, you have discrete control of it.  

There's not any control of it's intensity, which is a shame, but it is certainly not over-powering in any way, just be nice to have an option to have it at a very dimmed level and then brighten up when motion is detected.

I've shot a quick video of the dimming up and down on motion (the flashing red is from the back of the Auro and would not be visible when mounted in the ceiling).

Overall, I think the unit is a very visually appealing product that is easier to live with than other offerings.  The native Crestron integration makes for a very straight-forwards setup for programming. 

A very powerful product and one that I do expect to see a lot of on projects going forwards.

I hope to have some projects with the keypads (which look fantastic, especially in the mind-blowing Fer Forgé finishes) as well - these are a very interesting product and I think a very compelling user experience.  Certainly when Mrs {ie} saw them at ISE, she declared that was what she wanted in our house!  I better work hard this year!

If you have any questions on the integration with the Auro, or any other questions on Crestron software development, please do contact us here.

Hopefully this post has been of interest and given you some ideas about using this great little sensor.  Masses more information and photos on the Basalte website here.

One photo below for scale:

Photo 06-04-2018, 09 33 50.jpg