My Home Automation Journey: the Vision
My best friend was spot on when she said, “You’ve always wanted to talk to your house.” True enough! But aside from a few experimental smart assistants like Alexa and Google, I have only been willing to buy into a smart home fully once the ecosystem matured. In my book, a device that only works on a single platform is not “Smart.” And I’ve seen too many manufacturers create devices but then fail to find the economic model to sustain them — and so a few years later, kill them off and the systems that support them. Google is famous for this, but many are at fault.
When Matter debuted in 2022, I became hopeful. While my personal technology is very Apple-centric, my partner prefers Samsung, Android, and Windows. Could Matter be the robust home automation framework I could reliably build upon?
I’ve approached the project with an experimental mindset and planned it as an agile technology consultant would. So, let’s start with… how should it work?
- When I’m walking from the kitchen down the stairs to the TV room in the evening with a tray full of glasses and supper, I want the stairwell and 1st-floor hallway lights to turn on and off automatically, so I don’t trip down the stairs or struggle with light switches when my hands are full.
- When I’m preparing to leave my home through the front door or the garage, I want the hallway lights to turn themselves off automatically, so I don’t have to leave in the dark and struggle to get through the door or struggle with light switches with full hands.
- When I forget to lock the front door, it should lock itself, so that I don’t get yelled at by my partner.
- When I have a house guest, I should be able to give them a cross-platform app, so that I don’t have to duplicate another set of physical keys.
- When I come home at night through the front door or the garage, I want the hallway lights to turn on by themselves, so I can avoid struggling with light switches when my hands are full.
- When I am hosting a dinner party, I want to easily change the lights throughout the evening, from cocktails to supper, so I don’t have to manually adjust a series of dimmers in the kitchen, living room, and dining room.
- All physical light switches must function: no light switch can be taped over with “do not use” so that smart bulbs, controlled by an app, receive constant power.
- All switches must work, even if the WiFi network is out.
- No light may require a phone app, voice interface, or other technology to work.
- All devices must be platform agnostic. No device may work only on Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home, or Apple’s HomeKit.
- Security: devices should communicate through a high-security hub if exposed to the network and Internet.
- Maintainability: no device shall require a subscription or additional pay add-on to work.
- Privacy: no data is leaked from house devices to the Internet
- Performance: all devices should be at least as performant as regular switches.
- Interface: all devices should have minimal, easy-to-use physical controls. No device’s primary interface should look “weird” or technical. Door locks, for example, may not have massive circular switch dials.
Part 2 of this series: what devices did I assess and finally implement?