Wild West of Smarthome Tech

Is there any reason for every product to require its own communication protocol? Whatever happened to “it just works”. I have several WIFI devices, they all manage to connect to the network, yet I have to go to the cloud to turn off a light?!? A cell phone can control the device, it has more than enough CPU power, but no instead in an effort to make product interaction difficult we have to make things that should be locally controlled cloud based (must be for security reasons right?) Best case scenarios where I issue a command to Google home, it goes to Google to translate the command, pipes the response to a third party server to execute the command. Worse case is when you issue a command to Google, it translates, sends to third party, which in turn sends to hub, which triggers IFTTT for unsupported device, which then returns to the hub to control additional items, potentially triggering additional IFTTT, and 30 minutes later you would have been better off turning off the device yourself. Oh and if ANY of the servers are off line, or decide to change protocols then the entire house of cards collapses. The processing power in a cell phone is more than we used to send man to the moon, yet we can’t figure out how to turn on/off lights? ST promises to do exactly that, yet it doesn’t, in fact ST has only increased my level of frustration.
A frustrated user.

The reason is market forces. It’s the same reason that there are literally a dozen different forms of cell phone charger cable, which of course drive everyone crazy.

Zwave and Zigbee solve this for themselves by creating standard profiles which certified devices have to match. Then the device is “advertising“ themselves when queried, so they say “I am a binary switch. I turn on/off.“ Or “I am a multi level dimmer, I accept values from 0 to 100.“ Or “I am a standard thermostat.“ Etc. This allows the certified devices to work with many certified controllers.

Up until now, there hasn’t been anything comparable for Wi-Fi devices in home automation. Every manufacturer could and did make up their own message formats, leading to the problems you described.

As it happens, there was a new organization formed just last year to solve this for Wi-Fi and other IP protocols called “project chip.“ Amazon, Apple, Google, Samsung, the Zigbee alliance, and other major players are all involved. The goal is an IOT standard similar to that of Zigbee with devices advertising themselves and accepting standard basic commands. Also with additional security built in.

It’s early days yet, and I wouldn’t expect to see anything practical from this for about three years, but I think it is the direction the industry is headed.

See the existing discussion thread. (The topic title is a clickable thread)


Yeah I get it. It doesn’t make me any less upset trying to do basic integration, like when I turn off the TV after 10pm start the go to bed routine. Or automatically turning off lights in kitchen after 10 minutes if it isn’t meal time. It also doesn’t explain why in the world everyone feels they need a cloud based server to turn off a light. I don’t see how that could be cost effective over pushing the processing to a local device instead.

There are a number of currently available successful home automation systems which are not cloud-based except for specific third-party integrations like Alexa.

These include apple’s HomeKit (WiFi and Bluetooth with a proprietary security protocol: Everything is local except voice processing), Insteon (proprietary protocol), Homeseer ( mostly Zwave and Insteon), Vera (mostly Zwave), Abode (zwave, zigbee, and a proprietary protocol used for the security sensors), and of course Hubitat (Founded by former smartthings customers, it uses Z wave, Zigbee, and a Lutron integration, with everything running locally).

SmartThings Is still primarily cloud based, but there are definitely alternatives. :sunglasses:

(I myself am quadriparetic, so I rely on home automation for much more than just something cool to show off to my friends. I need it to work, I need it to work reliably, and I need it to work even if the Internet is down. So I follow this specific Feature area quite closely.)

I don’t use automation to showoff to friends, more just a case of lazy and tired of telling the kids to turn off the damn light. :slight_smile: