I love the comfort of movies at home. You can get up, make a snack or use the restroom, and not miss any action thanks to the pause button.

In the scientific interest of asking what's was possible (but not necessarily useful), I wondered: "can we remove the remote from this equation"?

I set out to evaluate (given off-the-shelf IoT components) how cheaply & quickly I could automate this toy problem: pause the TV when a user gets up from the couch and resume it when they return.

What You'll Need

  • Pressure-sensitive mat
  • Rechargeable batteries (for the sensor - more environmentally friendly!)

Instructions (Hardware)

To build the hardware piece, you'll re-wire the pressure mat into an IoT sensor that can be repurposed to accept any normally-open circuit.

(1) Take the pressure mat and use a wire stripper to separate it from pre-wired buzzers / control panels.

(2) Optionally, solder the wires to headers for better connection strength and flexibility (they'll fit into any breadboard and the terminals in an Ecolink sensor).

(3) Wire the mat into an IoT sensor. In this example, I repurposed a Z-Wave door sensor that also has a terminal input, but you could use a Raspberry Pi, ESP8266, etc.

How To (Software)

(1) Add the sensor to HomeAssistant as a binary sensor (by including it to your Z-Wave network, using GPIO pins, etc.)

(2) Make an automation to send your TV a pause command when the sensor switches state:

# automations.yaml

- alias: Pause TV when getting up from couch
  - entity_id: binary_sensor.couch_pressure
    from: 'off'
    platform: state
    to: 'on'
  condition: []
  - data:
      entity_id: media_player.lg_webos_smart_tv
    service: media_player.media_pause

(3) Make a similar automation for the unpausing action:

- alias: Unpause TV sitting down on couch
  - entity_id: binary_sensor.pressure_mat
    from: 'on'
    platform: state
    to: 'off'
  condition: []
  - data:
      entity_id: media_player.lg_webos_smart_tv
    service: media_player.media_play

(4) Restart Home Assistant


Yes, this is silly, and no, reaching for the remote isn't that much work.

What's more interesting is how cheap and easy it's become to put your couch on the internet with hobbyist parts. With a little more effort, you could replicate this for under $10 using an ESP8266 ($5) and conductive fabric ($5).

In its current infancy, home automation can sometimes seem like micro-optimization. I see it as an accessible lens through which we analyze the Internet of Things boom - and an entry point to build the a skillset to making, maintaining, and (importantly) protecting a future where everything has an IP address.