The future is…hubs?

I know for the last two years or so it has looked like hubs were going to be less important in the future of the smart home industry. Better battery power management for WiFi, Thread as a more reliable substitute for Bluetooth, and the introduction of stealth hubs inside voice assistants seemed to create a trajectory away from brand-specific hubs.

But now we have Matter. And just as the Philips hue bridge made it possible to add a bunch of strongly featured Zigbee devices to many different control platforms, it’s starting to look like matter will mean homes with several “little hubs“, or more specifically, “matter bridges.“ They will basically work just like Hue Bridges. They will create their own mini networks with devices connected to them, mostly Zigbee, and then you will add that bridge to any app that is a “matter controller.“

Think about all of the hundreds of posts to this forum from people trying to get inexpensive aqara or tuya devices to work with smartthings. And all the custom code required.

If this all works as planned, everything becomes simple. You add the devices to their own brand’s “matter bridge.“ An aqara or Tuya hub, for example. Then in one step you add that matter bridge to the smartthings app and it brings in many of its connected devices. You end up with a quick, easy, reliable, local connection that doesn’t require any custom code. But it does require that bridge device.

The Philips hue bridge has shown that consumers can accept this model if it is, indeed, really easy to use.

So in the future if you want to add a bunch of those cheap tuya devices to your smartthings app, you just do it through a tuya hub. This also means that the devices will get regular firmware updates, something which is hard to do now. (At least, that’s the plan. As always, we will have to wait and see what actually gets delivered.)

If everything does happen as planned, I’m very curious to see how this all works out with the mass consumer market, but it’s an interesting change in direction for industry trends.

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Sounds good and I’d be up for having multiple hubs no problem. I’d like these hubs not use a lot of power/energy though as we all , already have so many appliances constantly running like echo dots, Google hubs, tablets etc. i have 8 tablets running in my home all running actiontiles.

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I agree that this will be the direction, especially early on. It is the simplest way to bring in existing devices. I personally like the model as it distributes the computing and each hub is well suited for its own purpose. I easily stay under the device limits of each hub, and you can even distribute the devices over different channel IDs if you run into clashes (which I haven’t). I like setting up lights in Hue. It is a better experience. Then ST doesn’t have to be everything to everybody. It just needs to allow the hubs to talk and create strong automations. Plug hub-to-hub drivers here… :slight_smile:

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As a side note. I’d also be interested in looking at hub-to-hub integrations for Arlo, Roborock and Switchbot. Especially if their teams check out these boards and want to ship me some hardware :+1:

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In this architecture, it is unclear how the logic would be applied. If each of the mini hubs can only transmit info to other mini hubs and the children devices, how will logic that spans different min hubs be done?

Thats the perfect role for ST (hub of hubs), allowing you to create rules and import the devices from other hubs.

The mini hubs in these examples are like the Philips hue bridge: they are bridging devices between one network protocol and another. Normally LAN communications And Zigbee, but it doesn’t have to be that.

Again, back to my original post, matter would be the communication protocol between the minihub and the ST hub. The integration would just be handled as a normal Matter integration.

@blueyetisoftware is proposing an alternative, where the smartthings hub would use the LAN to communicate to the mini hub, probably to an open API, which is what the Philips hue bridge offers. He would write his own integration using a custom edge driver. That’s why he has a custom Edge Driver that can communicate directly to a Philips hue bridge, not using the official smartthings integration.

But not all mini hubs are going to offer that kind of API, we may just have to wait and see what’s available. :thinking:

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Exactly. For now, it is LAN based open APIs. Once they become matter compliant, they don’t have to offer that separate API. Matter itself would be the API and they would all be compatible out of the box. I’ll be interested to see how matter and edge interact going forward.

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Some SmartThings staff ( and maybe one of the public announcements?) have said that SmartThings’ Matter implementation, at least for local integration, is going to be via edge drivers that are specific to Matter.

found it: see the first post in the following thread:

And….just this morning, Matter Edge Drivers have been revealed:

They aren’t live yet, though. From the approval post:

Note: Tests will succeed after we release the next library version, and these drivers will remain non functional until Matter is enabled across the platform.

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That was fast :smile:

This is pretty much what I had in mind

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There are many questions in this setup.
Adding more hubs to the system makes it less reliable and there will be a fight between vendors about which hub has a higher priority.

The capabilities are hard. I doubt that all the features will be available on the competitor’s hub, like wake-up lights and scenes for lamps, tv, and music sync, I am sure these “premium” features will be vendor-locked.

What about setup? will I have to set the rooms and groups in every hub? I already have done this too many times (home kit, Google Home, Alexa, ST, Nanoleaf…)

Logging and automation. Who should I blame when my :bulb: goes full brightness in the middle of the night? How do I debug this as a normal user?

there will be funny side effects while “mirroring” devices from different hubs. for example, I am using a Hue remote to dim Ikea, Hue, and wifi lights in the same room.

I agree with all of that except the idea that more hubs necessarily makes it less reliable.

I currently run a set up with HomeKit using a HomePod mini, Lutron using its SmartBridge, two Philips hue Bridges, Amazon echo with an internal Zigbee hub, wi-Fi bridge for the smart door lock, another hub for the security cameras, BroadLink for the automatic door opener, a Flic hub, a SwitchBot mini hub, a delta Wi-Fi bridge for the kitchen faucet, an Aqara hub with sensors, and another Z wave hub and everything is rocksolid. I easily hit my personal requirement of a six months maintenance free operating period, and it’s usually closer to 12 months.

The only unreliable thing I have is smartthings, And it requires fairly constant maintenance. We never historically have gone more than two weeks without some required maintenance or something broken.

So my 11 hub Frankenstein system runs great. My separate Smartthings system chokes at the starting line.

Maybe it would run better if I had a galaxy phone, but I don’t. And none of my other hubs have that issue.

Every system has its own pluses and minuses, and I’m not saying that smartthings doesn’t have a lot of pluses: it definitely does. But so far MFOP is not one of them.

Now if what you’re saying is that the smartthings system specifically will have more problems with multiple hubs, ok, I could see that. :thinking:

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In environments where players compete, the codebase is closed and protected by patents, developers make mistakes and have short deadlines, and customers choose the cheapest goods.

I don’t have high expectations for the multihub interaction

Any idea if you could get Home Depot’s HubSpace to work with SmartThings? It would open up a lot of options for Wi-Fi ceiling fans and landscape lights.

They have a cloud API, but I don’t see anything published for local edge integration.

Although hubspace was developed by Afero for Home Depot, it doesn’t use quite the same API as the published Afero API.

Some folks in the home assistant community have managed to reverse engineer it for some commands, but not all. (Last time I looked they had on/off but not dimming, for example.)

As @blueyetisoftware said, that’s still a cloud cloud integration.

So basically you have three options.

  1. get partial integration now by using Alexa routines as an intermediary.

  2. try to build on the work the home assistant folks have done and create your own integration to the hubspace API

  1. Just wait and see if hubspace introduces matter support. If they do, integration should be easy.

———
If it was me, I would do method one for now and hope for method three in the future. But if somebody wants to roll their sleeves up and try building their own integration using method two, go for it. I suggest starting a new thread for that project, it’s starting to get pretty off-topic here and you’ll get a lot more responses with a meaningful thread title. :sunglasses:

@DOWNSOUTH407

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I guess we will have to see how the next month unfolds. With all the hubs getting matter in the next month along with new Matter specific IKEA bridge, and Hue updating their bridge. The Future of “smartthings” could be as full of hubs as Homekit’s past.

As far as integration, Matter will allow all that to be done at the voice assistant level. Alexa, and Google has been major integrators for years. If your now Matter enhanced hubs will also talk with Apple, platforms like Smart Things or home assi…t will become less and less prominent in my opinion

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