Here’s the link to the full Santa’s wish list article.
Our work includes integrating bus-based smart homes with up to 200 smart devices and adding smart assistants into the equation. All the devices meaning all lights, blinds, heating, cooling, air conditioning, wall switches and smart assistant are bound into a centralised system. Due to its centralisation the user can enjoy an automated smart home that makes their life easier and more enjoyable. Minor daily tasks can easily be automated so your home can do them for you, such turning the light on when you arrive and off when you leave.
Our main task was to simplify the process up to a point where every user can install it themselves and connect a smart assistant, no installer’s help or technical knowledge needed. Simplicity is just one of our selling points, see others and how we compare with our competitors in the field HERE.
This means that any Loxone, KNX or Gira smart home owner can integrate Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa or Google Home smart platforms into their home.
This integration brings you:
🗣 Voice control
💡 Integration of wireless systems (IKEA Trådfri, Philips Hue, Sonos, …)
⚙️ Custom automations
We have noticed that each assistant works quite differently and brings several benefits to the table. We have written more about it HERE. We are tech innovators ourselves who follow smart home development and trends and innovate constantly ourselves.
Now it’s the time to explain the features we miss and would love to have in 2021 for each smart assistant platform. There are a couple of missing features or strange product updates that have been bugging us for years, so we have decided to write them down in the form of a Santa’s wish list.
We really like the innovation coming from Amazon and have been big fans since the beginning. They invented the voice assistant category and with it started the smart home revolution we’re all in right now. We really like the innovation coming from Amazon and have been big fans since the beginning. They invented the voice assistant category and with it started the smart home revolution we’re all in right now.
Amazon continues to push this segment forward with their Ring smart line of intercoms that come priced at less than 100 EUR. In the premium smart home ecosystem it’s still quite normal to pay around 1.500 EUR for a device with less features. Similar with their touch displays in Echo Show and Fire Tablets, both for less than 100 EUR. In the past smart home tablets costing between 500-1.500 EUR per unit was the norm.
Their device support is wide, the widest of all three, lots of manufacturers have decided to integrate Amazon Alexa into their devices due to a very simple and straightforward certification process. Great news for all Amazon Alexa users is also that they continue to expand the support for various device types. We’re happy to say that Alexa now finally supports blinds as device type and allows control with different voice commands (open/close, raise/lower, increase/decrease, on/off) as well as tapping in the Alexa mobile app.
On top of that Amazon continues to experiment with new and possibly groundbreaking devices such as the Echo Buds, Echo Frames, Echo Flex, and not to mention the Amazon Oven or Dash. Innovation is hard and you need to place multiple bets to get a couple of wins, and it feels like Amazon is doing just that. It’s great to see new, creative and disruptive products being made every year and being tested by the community. Don’t forget that for example Apple AirPods make more revenue than the whole Adobe or for example Spotify, Twitter, Snapchat, and Shopify combined.
But still there are things we sorely miss in the Amazon Alexa smart home ecosystem. Here are a few we’d be ecstatic to see in the upcoming year:
1. Local connection support
Our biggest wish for Alexa is to enable local connection to smart home devices. Both HomeKit and Google already support local mode which greatly reduces latency and increases privacy. Both high on our priority list. Voice control will probably still require a steady internet connection but when using touch control on Echo Show and Fire Tablet, or when triggering scenes or automations it would be great if they’d eventually work in an instant and without any internet connection.
2. Improve the room support in Alexa
Right now the devices in the Amazon Alexa app can be organised into so called Groups. These can only be defined in the Alexa app and since 1Home already organises the devices into rooms fetching this information from KNX or Loxone configuration, it would be great if we could pass this information through an API. Unfortunately at the moment, users need to go through an unnecessary gruelling process of manually allocating each device into the right group. Also it would be better if Groups would be renamed into Rooms like in Google and HomeKit to unify the language across the platforms.
3. Improve the UI to support bigger smart homes
We have noticed that a typical Alexa user connects a relatively low number (less than 50) of smart devices into the Alexa mobile app. The app becomes very clumsy with bigger installations and users experience delay, some device groups don’t execute well or at all. It would be great to at least add some sort of room navigation in the app. According to the first PR screenshots, it seems the smart home dashboard on the new Echo Show sports a much cleaner look - so there is hope. We can’t wait for the next Amazon delivery to test this out.
4. Optimise mobile app communication with smart home
This request is a bit more technical: when a user opens the smart home section of the Alexa app the app starts to send status queries for each device individually. This means that in our typical scenario of 100-200 smart devices per home, our Bridge gets numerous separate requests at the same time. Our engineering team needed to create some magic to make this efficient and fast even though the number of requests can be quite high. Google, for example combines this into a single request which can be then served with a much lower latency, therefore improving the overall user experience.
5. Sensor support
Amazon Echo already has a wide range of supported device profiles but it still lacks support for popular sensor devices like humidity, brightness, air quality or electricity consumption sensor. Detecting a button press would also be a great feature to have. We suggest just copying HomeKit device profiles, since they cover sensors perfectly.
6. Secure Video equivalent
Apple paves the way to a private smart home, and video cameras and intercoms are obviously a very private thing that nobody wants accessible from the outside. They’ve added HomeKit Secure video which brings camera streaming, recording, and activity notifications directly to the Home app - all of this in a secure and private way compared to the competition. It would be great if Amazon would also add this feature into their repertoire of features.
7. Automation executed in house
We briefly mentioned this in one of the first points above but it’s worth spelling this out. Currently the scenes and automations are processed through the cloud because this is how Alexa works. This means that if you create an automation to turn the alarm on if a motion sensor is triggered, it goes through the cloud and it will also not work if the internet is down.
8. Can’t wait for a Project Connected Home over IP (CHIP)
Right now it’s cumbersome to select the right set of smart home devices which won’t lock you into a specific ecosystem, be it Amazon Alexa, Google Home or Apple HomeKit. A very small set of manufacturers go through the effort of supporting all three equally, so it’s great news that in recent times the promises are big about merging them. If these three can agree on a common and open standard then the manufacturers will have a lot less work to support all three. Since this is an open standard this would mean that it would also be open for new competition or even open-source initiatives.
We’re looking forward to 2021!
Happy holidays & enjoy your smart home!