Roomme Sensor installed above a doorwaySource: Christopher Close / iMore

Despite the rising popularity of modern smart home accessories leading to a bevy of different devices and platforms, there has always been one common goal: to make the home truly personal. Motion sensors and geo-fencing have bridged some of the gaps that currently exist toward that future, but motion sensors are not personal, and geo-fencing stops at the door.

I recently installed a new type of smart home accessory that takes a slightly different approach to the way automations are handled, the RoomMe Personal Location Sensor (PLS). This rather small and unassuming device installs directly on the ceiling, relying on signatures from paired phones to determine who has entered, and what accessories to toggle on.

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Much to my surprise, the RoomMe PLS can deliver on a large portion of this smart home future, reacting quickly to my presence, setting things just the way that I like, and not springing to life for others. As with all things though, there are a few catches that prevent it from becoming the ultimate home smart home solution.

Personal automation

RoomMe Personal Location Sensor

Bottom line: The RoomMe PLS provides personalized automations that activate quickly upon entering a room with your connected smartphone. However, limited HomeKit support, and reliance on having your phone in hand keeps it from being a must-have accessory.

The Good

  • Easy installation and setup
  • Fast response times
  • Works with popular smart home accessories

The Bad

  • Automations require phone in hand
  • Limited HomeKit integration
  • Batteries not included


Above it all

RoomMe Personal Location Sensor: The features

Roomme Sensor installed on a ceilingSource: Christopher Close / iMore

The RoomMe PLS features a clean all-white plastic design, that is similar in size and shape of most smoke detectors. Just like with smoke detectors, the PLS is intended for installation on the ceiling, preferably above any entrances. Only one sensor is included for the price of admission, which works for common areas such as living rooms, but entire home coverage does require more than one.

The PLS unit is pretty sparse which is not a bad thing, with just a single LED indicator light and an integrated button. The back of the PLS is basic as well, with just a couple of battery slots and an indention that houses the ceiling mount. Since the RoomMe PLS is completely wireless, it does require two D batteries to power it up, which are, unfortunately, not included. While these batteries are not overly expensive or hard to find, they are not ones that everyone just has lying around, which may lead to a trip to the store.

The PLS uses Bluetooth 4 Low Energy to communicate with most smartphones and some Samsung Tizen OS smartwatches, but unfortunately not Apple Watch or Fitbit for some strange reason. Automations are stored and ran locally on the sensor, and programming the sensor occurs via the RoomMe app. When setting up a sensor, room, or adding smart accessories, the instructions are synced to the sensor, which creates a short delay, but I appreciate that it keeps things local and doesn't rely on the cloud.

Roomme Sensor AppSource: Christopher Close / iMore

Supported accessories are limited to certain categories and manufacturers, but RoomMe covers some of the more popular options such as ecobee thermostats and Philips Hue lighting. The PLS also supports smart home platforms like Apple's HomeKit, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant. Recent updates have expanded functionality to include Siri Shortcuts, and a neat home status report feature that can tell you who's in your home with just a shout.

Speaking of whose in your home, profiles can be set for each member of your household, allowing it to react differently depending on who enters or leaves. Thankfully, RoomMe provides users with the option to also assign priority levels, preventing scenarios where another family member's music starts blaring or overrides any current tunes just because they happened to step into the room.

Easy installation

RoomMe Personal Location Sensor: What I like

Roomme Sensor back viewSource: Christopher Close / iMore

Installing and pairing the RoomMe PLS is extremely simple, with unboxing and discovering it through the associated app taking under 10 minutes. The RoomMe sensor is designed to be installed on a ceiling above an entrance but doesn't require any wiring as it is wireless. Simply install the required batteries, put in a couple of screws to secure it, and you are ready to go.

The RoomMe app walks you through account creation and the process of pairing, which uses Bluetooth to communicate to your phone that you hold near the sensor. Discovering the sensor was fast and worked on the first try, and the same was true for adding my existing smart home accessories. In my testing, I connected my Philips Hue lights directly, which required pushing the large button on the Hue hub, as well as some of my HomeKit accessories.

This was not the case at all, as the PLS picked up my phone and turned on my lighting at what seemed like the exact moment the sensor came into view, every time, which was impressive.

Once your accessories are discovered, you are now ready to create "charms", which is the term used for automations like turning on a specific device when entering. This process was again, simple with easy to understand language making setting up automations just a few taps away. In addition to setting charms for entering and leaving, you can also set them for specific times, and the app includes some neat suggestions, such as those for special occasions like an anniversary or birthday.

The performance of the RoomMe PLS was surprisingly good. Since the system relies on your smartphone to determine when to fire up charms, I expected some lag or instances where it simply failed to deliver. This was not the case at all, as the PLS picked up my phone and turned on my lighting at what seemed like the exact moment the sensor came into view, every time, which was impressive. I did notice that the default times were a little on the long side for exiting automations, but there are settings available to tweak these if needed.

Not so automated

RoomMe Personal Location Sensor: What I don't like

Roomme Sensor Apple Watch NotificationSource: Christopher Close / iMore

As I mentioned previously, the RoomMe works pretty much as advertised, turning on and off linked accessories just by walking into a room with your phone in hand. For the times where your phone isn't in your hand though, things simply do not spring to life automatically. This obviously creates some frustration when you are used to having the lights turn on for you, and it shatters the illusion of having a truly personal, smart home.

Roomme Sensor App Homekit PromptSource: Christopher Close / iMore

HomeKit integration with the RoomMe PLS is also rather limited, and a little disappointing. HomeKit accessories are found the same way as other devices within the RoomMe app, with a simple scan displaying what is available. However, not all HomeKit accessory types are supported, except for more common ones such as the aforementioned lighting and climate control devices. In my case, in a home with around 100 HomeKit accessories, only seven could be added as charms.

What is even more disappointing is how the system handles automations with HomeKit accessories, or rather, how it doesn't. After setting a HomeKit accessory as a charm, and entering or leaving a room with the associated sensor installed, automations will not fire up automatically. Instead, you will receive a notification on your iPhone or Apple Watch letting you know that you entered the room and that in order to run your automation, you must open the app.

Granted, RoomMe is upfront about this with a prompt that informs users of how HomeKit integration works when going to scan for accessories, but it is still a bummer that hampers the overall experience. In the case of Philips Hue lighting that is tied to HomeKit, you can simply connect the Hue hub directly to the RoomMe app, bypassing HomeKit, which allows things to work as intended. In some cases though, you may have accessories that do not have direct integration with the app, and connecting them through HomeKit is the only option, creating a not so automated experience.

Truly personal

RoomMe Personal Location Sensor: The Bottom Line

3.5 out of 5

At the end of the day, the RoomMe PLS partially accomplishes its main task of being a truly personalized automation system. The sensor responds quickly to the presence of your smart home, lighting up your home, or playing your favorite tunes just by entering a room, which is quite a pleasant experience when it is all set in motion.

However, its usefulness is ultimately tied to what you put into it, if you have your phone in hand, and which accessories you currently have in your home. While most major smart accessories are covered, such as Philips Hue lighting products, there may be some cases where some of your devices are left out of the automation party. HomeKit accessories also require that extra confirmation before running automations, which makes it not quite so automatic.

We are certainly closer to the home of the future with accessories like the RoomMe Personal Location Sensor, and I am looking forward to seeing how it evolves through updates. Correcting just a few shortcomings is all that is needed to make the PLS a must-have smart home accessory, so here's to hoping these fixes, like the personal home of the future, come sooner rather than later.

Personal automation

RoomMe Personal Location Sensor

Bottom line: The RoomMe PLS provides personalized automations that activate quickly upon entering a room with your connected smartphone. However, limited HomeKit support, and reliance on having your phone in hand keeps it from being a must-have accessory.

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