A meeting with the CEO and his team

(Cory S) #1

A few weeks ago I sent a letter off to Dan Lieberman, that was basically venting my frustrations with the stability of the platform. I brought up the snail pace I feel the Android app is maturing, the excessive latency times that were coming around almost every day (these seem to have improved since then), and the inaccuracy of the multi sensor temperature sensors. I went on to say that these were all problems I was willing to give a lot of leniency to as a customer during the beginning because it was a kickstarter, and I really did expect to be a beta tester. But, now they are selling the product at retail and I feel it should be held to a higher, production level standard. I also feel that until these issues are resolved I can’t recommend the platform to my friends or family as I feel it would leave a sour taste in their mouth for home automation in general.

Surprisingly within hours I received an email from Alex Hawkinson saying Dan had forwarded him my email, and would very much like to meet with me as soon as possible with some members of his team. A week or two later we met, and the majority of the conversation was about the latency issues…which they are very much aware of. But, we already knew that, as they have posted here on the forums about it. But, they never really explained they knew how to fix it, or were doing anything about it. That is what really put me at ease about this conversation. They walked me through the road map on converting to a system that could handle the transactions they were pushing. I am a Systems Engineer by trade. I work for a large financial company and am one of the lead Engineers over our 3,500 server environment. I did not at all get the impression they were just pushing buttons to see if it fixed anything; they had a good understanding of the issue, and how to fix it.

The Android app they pretty much admitted they messed up on, but they are doing their best to fast track it. I am a little fuzzy on what their excuses were on this…so I am not going to paraphrase it at the risk of getting something wrong. I do remember going way with the impression that they were expecting it to see some big improvements soon though.

My Multi Sensors are usually off by as much as 10 degrees in either direction. They noticed I had earlier pre-production models, and exchanged them for me. I haven’t noticed any real improvement with the new ones, but have noticed they are all usually the same amount off, which sounds like a calibration issue. They are also sometimes dead on though, so it’s a confusing problem.

As another attempt to troubleshoot my latency issues from all possible angles, Tyler, who I believe is head of support (I’m sorry, if I got that wrong) offered to stay up late that night and manually optimize my Z-wave mesh network. Unfortunately, I haven’t noticed any real improvements from that. I still have occasions where lights take 5-10 seconds to turn on after motion is detected, or my front door misses a command to unlock when presence is detected. I still think these issues are just cloud latency issues, which they seem to be on track to resolve.

This meeting was 2-3 weeks ago, so I’m a little fuzzy on some of the details. I meant to post sooner, but the forum decided to block my IP and I had been too busy to request it be whitelisted :slight_smile:

Please feel free to ask any questions on the exchange,

(Surya) #2

Cory, Did they say anything about running some events locally on the hub than via cloud?

(Cory S) #3

We didn’t talk about that, but I get the feeling it’s not a primary goal at the moment.

(Chrisb) #4

I’m jealous now! I wish I’d complained more. Hope they at least hooked you up with some nice SmartThings Swag! They gotta have TShirts or Ballcaps or something! :slight_smile:

Great post though, thanks for the information. Not that I doubted it, but it’s good to hear that there are come competent people with good plans in place.

(Im Brian) #5

@gopi2212 : Local events (or, as I called them “Hub self-reliance”) was addressed in an office hours. From what I remember from the conversation is that the Hub is not capable of handling these events - it’s basically a simple proxy from Z-wave/Zigbee -> cloud. It’s clear that SmartThings are selling their network as their primary product - and devices as things that just enable you to access it.

(John Essey) #6


Great post! I’m glad the ST Team is taking feedback from the community of adopters, and looking to improve “things”.

Do you mind, or can you tell more about the roadmap of things to come for say… 1) additional devices and services, 2) improved IDE?

  1. When I watched the KS videos and other media of what Smart Things could do, I was sold… I was sold on having a platform that I could tie other products and devices to very easily, and in some ways agnostic to just being another z-wave controller. I cant say that I’ve seen enough support of other products (devices/services) that makes me feel the way I did a few months ago. I enjoy my Smart Things, and I’m still “all in”. I can say from my own experience that this platform is a bit more open than others, but, I feel like I dont see much in the way of things like Fitbit, Lockitron or Ubi or even the Hue. And maybe it’s me, but I recall those external devices being able to mesh well with this platform and product, but I’ve yet to see that happen.

I think the inclusion of IFTTT was great, but I’m expecting more. I cant define granular statements with IFTTT. It ties into some things well, and I can get a good data dumped out to csv to run reports on of my activity, that is great. But its not the functionality I expected. I enjoy having it, but like I said, I expected more.

I recall seeing in one of the KS videos being able to turn on/off lights using NFC. I use NFC daily, throughout my house, and my office… but why cant I use it with Smart Things? I’d love to!!!

So, I just want to know if there was any real talk about what the roadmap is like for other products and devices? Or, did your conversation solely focus on what is out currently (issues, features, etc.), which to me would mean that some of the stuff in the KS videos and such arent on the immediate roadmap. I could be wrong… just hoping to get an idea of what I should expect.

  1. I have a ton of problems in the IDE… to the point I dont even simulate apps any more – sometimes if not all times I just cant (ie: the simulator just loads and spins when trying to simulate even default apps). Its frustrating to have to try things “in real time”. I understand (through support tickets) that I may be unique in my problem… but I cant be the only one who has a rooted phone here.

Programming isn’t my “day to day”, I deal with large infrastructure, data and 15k in users killing my servers. But I am not too bad at programming that I cant whip up something in the IDE… but I find the IDE to not be friendly to someone like me, who maybe has some knowledge, maybe needs a few examples, but just cant get the IDE to cooperate and/or work intuitively. I know ST is new and the documentation is being updated, and it’s growing. I get great help when I ask for it, but, I think a lot of programs that are in the store need tweaked and customized (due to some options being required). I dont always find the IDE helpful in explain my errors, or guiding me to fix them.

I showed a peer the IDE and a few apps I have, and they were put off by it not being as user-friendly as say Wig-Wag. I dont think the IDE needs to be completely dumbed down, but, I think simplicity in the way you can make apps would really help someone out who is the least bit tech-savy. I dont see why you cant have a better front end to create apps, but still have the code view on the back end.

So, I just want to ask if there was any talk about updates to the IDE going forward?

I guess, after the most recent update (though I see there’s an updated ST app today) I lost the ability to manage my modes in the sense that I can not see (easily) what apps I have tied to specific modes. I have 30+ apps, and, its hard to keep track of them easily (to the point I’m starting to use specific naming conventions for modes and tasks that need to happen during specific times). Point is, it’s becoming a nightmare to manage my apps and modes… and that last update nuked any way for me to do that!

Sorry for the rant. Really. I really enjoy this product, the banter that goes on in the forums and the technology we have. I want to this product to be better, and my services work better.

I’m glad you were abel to get face time, and I hope there are positive things to come in the future. Thats what we all want, right, for this thing to be awesome!

(Cory S) #7

@johnessey Most of our conversation was over stability improvements and not added features. We both seemed to be of the mind that it is best to fix bugs, squash bugs, then release features, squash bugs, rinse repeat. They did mention a huge UI change coming to iOS, but it would take a little bit to hit Android. They were very excited about this UI change, but wouldn’t give me any details about it. They did mention several little changes they would be making to the IDE, but if they are planning any major overhauls they didn’t say anything.

We only had an hour or so, there was a lot we didn’t have time to touch base on. The primary focus of the meet was stability of the platform, and the lack of progress on the Android front.

(Av8rdude) #8

@coryds Thanks for the great update! I understand why they want to market to the masses and focus on IOS for grandma…but why would any creative, smart techie working at STs use an iphone? I have never understood using a limited, closed platform to operate an open system like SmartThings???

(Surya) #9

@imbrian, thanks for clarifying…@coryds, thank you for the update…

(Darryl) #10

@av8rdude : preach it brother!

(Cory S) #11

@av8rdude I am a big Android fan, and work in the tech industry…but the divide between iOS and Android among my fellow techie friends seems to be a pretty even split. I think Android offers ST a lot more freedom to do what they want though, and really hope they take advantage of that.