I recently read an article on Wired by Simon Hill (dated 11 June 2022, really recent). The article mentioned about how Simon and his family lived in a smart home and the experience turned out differently. For all you smart home owners wannabe, these will be issues you will face in reality. Sadly most home owners will only face these issues after purchasing the devices/System Integrator's beautiful dream. Let's review some of the rants by the smart home gatekeeper of the Hill family and see if there are any solutions to these inherent issues.
1. IoT App Fatigue - Multiple apps
But the reality falls woefully short of that vision. “Dad! The light isn’t turning on!” “Simon! Google won’t open the curtains again!” “How do I get YouTube on your TV?” “Which app is it for the garden lights again?” Invite smart bulbs, robot vacuums, smart speakers, and other wondrous devices into your house, and you will soon see the cracks.
Then there are the apps. So many apps. Every device has its own app. The more smart home gadgets you add, the more cluttered your phone becomes. Keeping track of which app controls which device is tricky enough. But you must also install them for everyone else and train them, or accept your role as the gatekeeper of settings for the household.
You will need to leverage on all-in-one rule engine solution. Note that this is not about an all-in-one application as having a single rule engine will assist you in having all your devices in a single rule-engine hence in a single application.
Home-A-Genius is able to do so as we link to various smart devices directly to our application, allowing for rules to be setup in the admin page. There is no need to set up secondary rules in Google Home. Once the rules are set up in the admin page, all the rules/rooms/scenes will be synced downstream allowing for the user interfaces to be updated.
2. Change Wi-Fi system means to re-setup the smart home all over?!
When things are running perfectly, you can catch a glimpse of comfort and convenience. But when issues crop up—which they frequently do—problem-solving falls on us. If you've ever lost a morning trying to set up a security camera; sacrificed an afternoon connecting your light panels to your new Wi-Fi mesh system.
This is the hard truth for everyone. If there is a need to change the router, the best you can do is to change the SSID to be the same as your previous one. Change of router is often the most tedious steps for all smart home as most smart home devices require a static IP to be assigned to them to ensure stability during connection.
While the solutions are limited, Home-A-Genius has a few strong men to assist in the change in router. Usually a change in router will result in smart home system downtime, but we are able to assist with a small fee. So Home-A-Genius users, fret not! Team Home-A-Genius is all ready to assist when the day comes!
3. Smart Lights that aren't really that smart
Take smart lighting, for example. For it to work, you have to remind everyone in your family to leave the old switches alone. Fail, and your meticulously arranged remote control, voice commands, and scheduling are gone.
Smart Lights had been problematic since the beginning of time. When Team Home-A-Genius implemented smart lights solution, we faced a few concerns from clients. The main one being the smart light won't function if the switch is powered off - as described by Simon. Another being the smart lights are too dim. Home owners would prefer to have brighter lights, prefabaly 13W and above for each bulb.
That was when Home-A-Genius came up with our Smarter light solution. The Smarter Light solution aimed to solve the number 1 issue faced by everyone including Simon. The Smarter Light comes with a toggle button, allowing for less-savvy users to continue pressing the switch, but that will not cut off the power supply to the smart lights. While the savvy users enjoy the automation/routines painstakingly set up by them.
4. Serious Lag time
Even when things do work, it can take a few seconds for your chosen assistant to turn the light off. I feel faintly ridiculous telling my wife not to touch the switch or close the curtains by hand as I repeat a voice command or tap away at my phone screen. “Is this more convenient?” she asks with a bemused look.
When we first did up Home-A-Genius, that was one of the pain points we had to endure when testing the system. That was when we hooked up with Google and embarked on our Local SDK journey with Google Assistant. With Local SDK within the eco-system, we saw voice commands dropped from 3-5s to a mere 1s (sometimes on good days even less than 1s).
5. Google not being able to translate what you mean
I can barely keep this stuff straight. Little wonder the rest of my family struggles. Sometimes I feel like I’m asking Hal to open the pod bay doors. As Google Assistant keeps telling me, “Something has gone wrong.”
I have to admit, we get this quite often from Google too. However the best workaround to this is to use simple voice command. Pod Bay Doors sound too chim in my opinion. Cutting it short to Bay Doors might have easily resolved it.
6. The Matter Dream
Matter, the new smart-home standard, is due any minute now and will tackle some of these problems. ....... But don’t get too excited. As Michele Turner, director of Google's Smart Home Ecosystem, told me recently, it will provide a robust and reliable foundation to build on, but the individual devices themselves still need a lot of work.
Yes, don't get too excited! I have yet seen any framework on Matter as of now much less to say how long it will take for all other device to develop itself on the framework. The same goes for Zigbee 3.0. As much as I'd love to believe the beautiful lie of a fully integrated solution, the current IoT situation is a far cry from a standardised protocol. I'm sorry, but Home-A-Genius has no solution to this yet.