Reading all the posts last week from people whose smart home setups stopped working recently, either because zigbee communication isn’t working or because Z wave devices suddenly start acting like they’re some other device class or because virtual cloud devices just stopped working… I am forced to face the fragility of the smartthings architecture.
Let’s take the zwave motion sensor which is suddenly being reported by smartthings as a leak sensor.
The zwave sensor hasn’t changed. It’s sending the same reports It always has, in the format required by the independent third-party specifications. It would work fine with any other certified Z wave hub.
But smartthings layers its own architecture over the top of that independent third-party specification. Originally that was device type handlers. Now it’s edge drivers.
And because this architecture is proprietary to smartthings, and not part of an independent third-party process, This layer is not fully documented and certainly we do not get detailed change logs for every time the platform changes.
Every certified Z wave platform has its own unique rules engine, and you can get weird stuff that happens at that level. But there are only a few where once you have added a ZWave Device to your network the essential messaging between the device and the hub might be reported so differently that it looks like a different device class.
I don’t think I ever fully acknowledged this before, although it’s been true from the very beginning. And there have been several platform breakdowns in the past because of it, particularly around the issue of the management of multiendpoint Devices.
But until last week I didn’t fully acknowledge even to myself the ultimate fragility of this design approach. It would be one thing if, like Philips hue, there was a culture of detailed changelogs. But there isn’t.
I’m not saying that there aren’t a lot of great things about the smartthings platform: obviously there are. But I also think it’s important to acknowledge the wild wild west aspects of operating without an independent review and logging process for changes.
It’s possible that matter will improve some of the stability issues, but maybe not. Certainly smartthings has not as yet done much about documenting exactly how they are supporting matter, and where there might be gaps.
I’m not sure what else to say at this point. This is an amazingly creative and supportive community and they have been able to do fantastic things on the basis of this architecture. I’m just not sure it’s a safe environment for anything essential to a household.
Maybe everybody else already realized this and has taken it into account. I know personal priorities differ, and that’s fine. Choice is good.
Lots to think about, anyway.