iPhone App Design Flaw

The first time I saw the mockups of the Smartthings iPhone app I was wondering how you were supposed to tell which icon refers to which ‘thing’ or object you are controlling. After watching the La Web presentation by Jeff I see that I am not alone, He even has a hard time figuring out which one corresponds to which device.

From a UX perspective it seems that it would make much more sense to have some kind of label or indication of what device each icon relates to without having to tap on each icon to find what you are looking for…

That’s a great point - a small row of text - even 10-15 letters would be great to be able to make shortcut notes.

I hope that was not the final version :slight_smile: Ideally things should be automatically grouped into rooms or zones and the app should display “things” relevant for the zone/room you are in. No matter how good/cheap/smart the Smart hub is, its going to be an epic fail if the UX is not good enough. And by that I don´t mean good enough for me or the other early adopters, but good/simple/intuitive enough for the common user. I’m not even sure that the web/app interface is enough no matter how good they are able to make it. I believe that the single most important “smart thing” you need to make available is a cheap simple wireless mechanical switch that is really really easy to set up. Something physical that “just works” that people can put on their wall or wherever they want. I believe that is key to an UX that people in general would want and trust.

Hi guys. Good observations. No the iPhone app is not quite done. There are several customization options that will allow similar device “tiles” to look different. They will still be subtle, however, and we expect the use of grouping to be very common. Most important to remember, however, is that if the users are opening the iPhone app to do very much then that is not smart. We expect people to setup SmartApps (rules) and not need to turn on lights by their phone. Turning on my lights in my phone is arguably a worse interface then the wall switch when I am home.

Hopefully you guys are members of the design group and these sorts of issues can continue to be discussed. I am sure we’ll get all sorts of feedback once we get the app into all of your hands, too!

@RockLobster - We have been testing the Z-Wave in-wall switches and they work well. You can check several of them out in this Kickstarter Update. Is that what you had in mind?

No :slight_smile: Too expensive and too complicated. If that is your best solution you are going to fail commercially.

I already have some (european) Z-wave devices in my home, and like I said its not me or the other nerds already populating the forums you have to target if you are looking for commercial success. Z-wave have been around for years, and is still failing for many reasons.

What you need is a cheap wireless switch that just works(globally) with your hub. No matter how good your smart apps is they can not replace manual switches completely at this point. And in-wall switches is ok if you are building a new home or having a major renovation done, but way too expensive to have installed in an existing one. With more and more things becoming smart/wireless, “in-wall switches” is going backwards into the future.

If you guys really want your product to be a commercial success you should avoid using the term “Z-Wave in-wall switches” outside internal memos.


I am probably too harsh, and maybe flat out wrong, but applying the same solution to old problems usually gets you in the same trouble.


I’m going to agree and disagree with you at the same time RockLobster.  See, in my house I’m a techno-nerd-geek-whatever you want to call it.  I lunge for the new technology whenever possible and love to play with it.  I don’t mind complications or complexities because I know it’s part of the being on the edge of new technology.

But my wife… while certainly no stranger to technology nor a techno-phobe, she’s certainly less likely to jump at new technology.  If the old way is working just fine, why do I need to use something different?  Getting up and flipping the switch on the wall works just great for me.  Why do I want to mess with a Lifx bulb that I have to flip the switch twice to turn off when flipping it once turns it off? It’s stupid.

For people like my wife the in-wall switch is ideal.  We add functionality without changing the way she handles things right now.  Now I have lights that I can turn on or off remotely and she can still use the switch.  Everyone is happy.  I imagine this will also be great for others who are…shall we say “Set in their Ways” and not quick to learn a whole bunch of new ways to doing things?  (like elderly parents/grand parents?)  Provide new technology without changing existing methods and everyone wins.

Now, having said that, I 100% agree without regarding the universal button.  I’ve been asking for this for a long time and SmartThings has said they are interested and working on the idea.  Probably thought of the idea long before I brought it up on the Kickstarter page, but hey, I like to think it was all my idea.  Makes me free important, ya know?  Anyway, I figure something will be coming very soon.

Yeah, I´m just trying to be realistic here. If I pay for premium wireless lightbulbs to use with my smart-hub it would be nice if the smart-people could offer something nice and easy for basic control.

Z-wave in-wall switches is not a good solution if you don´t already have them in-wall. Like I said: Cheap to buy, expensive to install. and cant be moved around.

Design a simple cheap wireless switch and order tens of thousands of it so it can be sold for less than 30$ or ideally, 20$ ( and reserve 10 for me please!)

I don’t follow you at all.

Z-wave in-wall switches is not a good solution if you don´t already have them in-wall. Like I said: Cheap to buy, expensive to install. and cant be moved around.
Z-Wave enabled switches are $40, and even I can flip a circuit breaker, unscrew a faceplate, switch out a switch, and screw a new faceplate back on.  This is not some major home improvement project.  If I were renting this would be a bit more of a pain, but then I could just keep the old switches and change them back out when I move.

Another advantage here is that you don’t need to buy something ridiculous like lightbulbs with built-in wifi (or zigbee, if such a bulb existed).  You just replace the switches with Z-Wave switches, and now you have both your old means of switching the light on and off, plus you can operate it from your phone or the Internet or wherever you want.  Why would you want to go the other route?

Oh, and in another thread you complained that the SmartButton someone offered doesn’t have a dimmer.  Yet another advantage to simply replacing that wall switch with a Z-Wave switch: you can get one with a dimmer!  Again, around $40.

We are not allowed to diy with electricity in my country, so I would need an electrician to install everything. Also euro z-wave switches are a bit more expensive. For me to install a single z-wave switch would be around 300$. Would be cheaper if I did many at once but still an major investment that would not add value to my home.

Now wireless lightbulbs and wireless switches does not sound that ridiculous any more?

And I would still go for an insert module and a wireless switch combo if I were to install more z-wave stuff in my home :wink:



Ah, well, if that’s how it works for you then I see how your case could be significantly different.  But above you seemed to be arguing that Z-Wave switches wouldn’t work for the vast majority of people.  Certainly here in the US, any idiot (even me!) can replace a switch or an outlet.  So to address your point above, I don’t think that a product relying on cheap, widely available Z-Wave switches and outlets like those cited here is assured of commercial failure.


That’s not to say that it necessarily addresses your particular needs, though.

I belive the vast majority of people is found outside of the small niche of American home autmation enthusiasts :wink:  If SmartThings can´t reach any further it is a comercial failure. Because someone is going to get this right over the next years and reach many many millions of consumers. Just look at all the inovation to be found on indiegogo and kickstarter etc., even the big guns have started lookking into this(Philips, Microsoft, Google, Apple ) I still think SmartThings have the potential, but betting on the wrong horse could be fatal…

Z-Wave is not the future, its just something you have to support for the time beeing. Im only sure of one thing the future  of smart things is wireless, and its global. Z-wave is not global, and even after several years on the market its just a handful of expensive devices available here in europe. I think wifi, zigbee, bluetooth etc. is better suited for the future. Im happy with my Z-Wave devices, but given the price and what else is happening out there I would not recomend anyone to upgrade their house with Z-wave in 2013. And at least not in anticipation of an unfinished product like the SmartHub.

But hey, Z-Wave gets the job done and its a lot cheaper in the US. Gadgets was never supposed to be good investments anyway :wink:

What about Zigbee makes it better suited for the future? Just curious as to your point here.

Like Gray said, here in the US even the “Non-Techy” “Niche” home automation market is following the DIY install trend using Z-wave. Large Big-box hardware/home retailers like Lowe’s (With Iris http://www.lowes.com/cd_Products_1337707661000_) in the US have recently jumped on this selling light switches, outlets, etc for anyone to go and buy and install themselves. And they are marketing this to the non-techy everyday person.

So while some people like myself have been using Z-wave for many years and building our own systems. Many manufacturers are entering the market and most actually did settle on Z-wave.

The great thing that SmartThings IS doing, is NOT tying it to one technology like so many others. Its open to Z-wave, Wifi, Zigbee, potentially bluetooth, and really any other protocol when paired with SmartThings ThingsModules and Arduino ThingsShields. This is the first one of these “Internet of Things” automation companies that has done this and made things OPEN. and I certainly welcome that.

The Iris products look nice… and remarkably similar to smartthings does anyone know if they will connect to the smartthings hub as normal zwave addons or do they only work with Iris products?

Many, but not all of the Iris products ARE Z-wave. The outlets, the switches and Door locks I know for sure. I suspect some of the other items like the fobs, motion sensors and panic buttons may be Zigbee.

This is actually great, because up until Iris - it was tough to find those light switches and outlets for cheap at local stores, and now every Lowe’s has them.