October 10, 2022

Hi Doppler family!

We thought we would send over a quick update to announce where we are with the new features of the Doppler and talk some more about the 1.5 update that we are releasing to Beta today!

Hopefully you have been enjoying the features we have added since release and we are much happier with the product we have now. If you still don’t have the awesome features we added in the previous update (Hourly weather, Smart buttons, etc.) please let us know in the comments, by emailing support@sandmanclocks.com, or checking out this previous update.

Thanks again for following the development of the Doppler and we hope you’re enjoying yours. We would love to hear how much you’re loving your Doppler and want to continue supporting us. Tell a friend about the Doppler! Go write an Amazon review! Write a review on our website! These are the best ways to continue to support us.

Balancespring (1.5) update

While the Doppler is in a much better spot now than it ever has, we want to continue adding features and improvements to make this product as good as possible. The next major features we are adding are local control, Home Assistant, and iOS Shortcuts support! While these features aren’t necessarily the most important for everyone, they are all incredibly powerful and will allow you to unlock the true power of the Doppler. Let’s dive into what we are adding in the 1.5 software update, codenamed "Balancespring".

Yes the "spring" update is being released in the fall. Balance springs are a clock thing!

First off, we have some quality-of-life improvements to make your everyday life with the Doppler easier.

-We have added a new feature called Snooze Remaining mode. When the Doppler is snoozing, the mini screen in the bottom right hand corner will countdown in minutes (and then seconds) to when your alarm is going to go off. The color will also slowly change from blue (the snoozing color) to your set alarm color.

-Along with the Snooze Remaining mode, we have added another use of the small display – the seconds mode. This mode will display the current seconds on the mini display effectively giving you an extra two digits of the time.

-24-hour mode has always been available on the Doppler, but with this update we are adding the ability to turn the leading zero on or off, make the colon flash once a second, or turn it off entirely. We hope these tweaks allow for further customization of your Doppler!

-Want the Doppler to fade slowly to the next minute of time? It looks really nice and makes for a smoother transition of time. It’s very calming when you catch it.

-The weather service we were using wasn’t always the most accurate, especially compared to some other services, so we implemented the National Weather service data for our US-based customers. This should give more accurate weather on the Doppler display.

-Webhooks on the smart buttons! This feature will allow you to trigger a webhook or a GET, PUT, POST API call to any URL when a smart button is pressed. This allows for more advanced smart home automation. Want even more smart home automation? Keep reading :)

We have also added some more information to the Doppler information tab as well as some bug fixes.

Local control!

But the big thing we have been working on? The Doppler is getting local control! What does this mean? Well, currently when you use the phone app with your Doppler you’re actually sending commands out through the internet to our cloud server and then back to your Doppler. When you’re 2 feet away from your Doppler you shouldn’t have to contact anything outside your home network in order to change the color of your Doppler or any other setting. A lot of companies do this for data collection reasons, but we implemented it because the cloud based connection does have some advantages; regardless of where you are, as long as your phone and your Doppler are connected to the internet you’re able to control your Doppler and it’s also more secure as we can control both sides of the communication. But we wanted to add local control for a multitude of reasons, so in order to implement the speed of local control and the utility of cloud control, we are implementing a hybrid approach that will seamlessly transition between cloud and local control without you having to do anything. If you’re at home and on W-Fi, you’ll connect via local If you’re not, you’ll connect via cloud.. It’s that simple. No matter the speed of your internet and Wi-Fi connection, we hope you’ll notice a massive increase in speed when controlling everyday tasks on the Doppler. We have implemented this local control in a way that is still very secure and it also has the ability to work if your internet or our cloud servers go down. Hopefully this experience is seamless and further improves your Doppler experience.

Another thing that local control allows us to do is integrate with a home automation platform called Home Assistant (HA). This platform focuses on local control and privacy and is incredibly powerful! Now this power does come with a downside – HA isn’t the easiest to setup or use, but its power and customizability is truly unmatched in the home automation space. If you consider yourself pretty handy with computers and smart home tech and you want to take the next step, Home Assistant is an amazing (albeit sometimes frustrating) option to achieve just about anything you want with your smart home.

So how can the Doppler integrate with Home Assistant? HA acts like a bridge between smart home devices and has support for just about every smart home device ever made (either directly or indirectly). We have also added a couple of new features that the App can’t do, like the ability to customize the screen, write text/numbers on both the big screen and the mini display, and customize the light bar. You’ll also be able to make the Doppler talk using Alexa text to speech, and just about every feature in our app will be integrated into HA as well. By allowing the Doppler into this ecosystem natively all the following things could be achieved relatively easily using HA:

1. Set the color of the screen based on the day of the week or month. This could be useful for garbage day or street cleaning day.

2. Scott Hanselman is a customer of ours who has type-1 diabetes and wants to display his blood sugar on the small display of the Doppler. All this requires is a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that is hooked up to the internet and Home Assistant to link the CGM and the Doppler together. Boom, now your blood sugar is displayed on the mini display of the Doppler for you to see your blood sugar at a glance. Scott and PAI CEO, Alex, talked about this on Scott's Podcast a while back and we are happy we can make this a reality for him.

3. When your sprinklers turn on (using a smart irrigation system from a company like Rachio), the Doppler could say "enabling sprinklers" and then turn the screen green or blue. When it's done it could turn back to your normal color. 

4. You could display the battery percentage of your phone or your electric car on the mini display. Better yet, if you forget to plug either of these in the screen could blink or change colors to remind you to plug in when you get into bed.

5. Home Assistant can be granted access to your calendar so you could set multiple alarms before your meeting and flash the screen when it's time for your meeting. 

6. When the front door is opened, the Doppler could say "door" on the front screen, and if you have person detection enabled it could speak who is home.

7. When you press the 1 button it could lock all of the doors, enable your security system, turn off all the lights, set an alarm for 8 hours from now, and play white noise. You can do this with Alexa routines, but Home Assistant has more options and it would all be done locally so this would work if there was no internet access. 

8. You could program your smart smoke alarm to trigger a sound on your Doppler in case of an emergency. 

9. Have the color of the time change when it's time for bed and time for a child to get out of bed in the morning.

10. Have the Doppler screen go to blackout mode automatically once a motion sensor stops detecting motion in your room for an hour. 

Some of these ideas are from customer suggestions and we can’t wait to see what other customers create!

You’ll need to set up your Doppler first using our mobile app and then install the Sandman Doppler integration via HACS (a relatively common way to get custom integrations into HA). We will be working on getting into the HA baseline and getting approval as part of their new Made for Home Assistant program as fast as we can.

If you want to learn more about Home Assistant we recommend checking out some Youtube videos (we can recommend some channels if you'd like), as well as their official getting started guide.

If Home Assistant seems too daunting and confusing to you, we totally understand and we are hoping to integrate more deeply with Alexa routines to allow you almost as much flexibility as HA offers. But we do have another solution for you if you have an Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Watch, or Computer) running the latest version of software, Shortcuts now supports the Doppler! 

The Shortcuts app is available on the latest versions of iOS, iPadOS, WatchOS, and MacOS and is fairly powerful and pre-installed. The different things you can do in the app are split up into “actions” (things that you can set up to do when the shortcut is started) and “triggers” which allow you to automate actions. Both the triggers and actions in the shortcuts app are limited (especially when compared to Home Assistant) but still very powerful. Creating a shortcut is super simple and there is basically zero setup! 

All the examples that we have come up with for Home Assistant work with Shortcuts, but some require a little bit of creative thinking or a third party service like Zapier or IFTTT to function due to the current limitations of Shortcuts.

But even with these limitations, the shortcuts app is surprisingly powerful and it’s easy to share shortcuts between users. The best part? It requires no additional setup (take that Home Assistant) while remaining secure. Just launch the newest version of the app, make sure you’re on iOS 16 (or equivalent for the other product types) and you’re set! You can create your first automation in as little as a minute.

Here is a short video showing just how easy it is to create your first simple shortcut. In the video we create a shortcut with the action to set the Doppler color to green. Then we create two automations that trigger that shortcut – one at 8 am every day and the other for when your phone is disconnected from power. That’s how easy it is to start making some awesome automations with the Shortcuts app. 


We are sure we are just scratching the surface of what Shortcuts can do with the Doppler so we are launching a contest for shortcut ideas! 

The rules are simple, fill out this form with your most clever Doppler automations and shortcuts using Shortcuts and whoever comes up with the most interesting one, wins a free Doppler. We can’t wait to see what y’all come up with. We plan on adding some premade shortcuts and videos on how to use these shortcuts directly to the app, as well as sharing everything to our Discord.

Want these features now? The iOS beta is live! Download the beta version of the app and then opt into the beta program in the Doppler information tab and upgrade your Doppler from the app.

iOS open testflight: https://testflight.apple.com/join/oeRZaDlO

Google play  open beta test: https://play.google.com/apps/testing/com.sandman.app

We plan on launching these features to full public release a couple of weeks after we hear feedback from our beta testers. Please join our Discord to discuss!

That’s all we have for you today folks, we are continuing to work hard on new features and hope to have as many out to you as soon as we can! Is there anything you’d like to see added to the Doppler? If so, let us know and we can try and prioritize it into the next update! For now though download that beta and get automating!

-PAI Team

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