The consequences of lag

Not sure that this belongs in the mobile app category, but it’s not specific to any device.

Yesterday, I arrived home and the garage door was ignoring my presence so I opened the door the old fashioned way with the remote. I didn’t think much of it until 15 minutes later I saw a notification on my phone that I had arrived and I heard the garage door opening. Had I not been paying attention the door might have sat open for quite a while. Not cool.

We also have a sensor on the mailbox to let us know when the mail has been delivered (our carrier isn’t very predictable in arrival time). I didn’t grab the mail yesterday because it was raining so grabbed it this morning as I left. I got the notification 10 minutes later on my commute to work.

We’ve only been on ST for a week and I really love the concept, but the reliability and the potential unintended consequences of late actions are starting to concern me.

I understand the likely source of the lag (I’m a software geek). But that understanding doesn’t matter to the other household members who prefer their tech to be reliable if it’s going to be embedded into their lives. As a non-lag related example, the hue lights don’t always turn off when they are told to.

If ST really wants to stick around for the long haul (and I sincerely hope they will!), reliability really has to improve.

Yeah… it happens. Sometimes by a little; sometimes by a lot (or not at all). It is why I don’t have SmartThings open anything, and also why my sensors for detecting temperatures that might freeze pipes are hard wired to the thermostats. With my luck, SmartThings will fail when I need it most.

It is also why the “logic” I deploy with SmartThings is of a “never assume” nature. I get notified when important things are checked/actuated.

It is however the nature of the beast at this point. They are working on some local functionality for the next hardware revision of the hub, but even that won’t help with MyQ garage doors as that is also cloud based.

And while it may seem like overkill, here is how I have my garage door set up:

1.) SmartThings does not open it automatically.

2.) I get a notification every time it opens or closes.

3.) When I leave, I get a notification that tells me if it is open or closed, and it closes it if it is open.

4.) If it was open and SmartThings tried to close it, I will get the notification via #2 above if it in fact closed.

5.) I have a IP camera in the garage in case I have any doubts.

The notifications are such that I don’t have to pick up my phone. I use Tasker to speak my SmartThings notifications. And since they haven’t yet fixed the bug in Android SmartThings app to not have a notification sound, I recorded a silent one I can choose for it so I just hear the speech.

I also get a notification when I arrive that Tasker traps so that it can “welcome” me home, and return my phone’s settings to non-driving mode (and, if it is after 5pm, turns on my main and garage A/V systems and starts playing the 5 o’clock news that was TiVo’d (c:)