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Smart Home Developers Aim for Simpler and Seamless Solutions

Neil Strother
Oct 08, 2019

Smart Home

It is both refreshing and concerning when an expert admits that setting up a smart home is a challenge. The expert in this case is Alexey Makarov, CEO and cofounder of Qulix Systems, a large-scale software firm. Makarov recently wrote on Forbes: “It’s not easy to create seamless, secure software for smart home systems…One of  the primary challenges is planning out a simple and seamless smart home setup.”

Amen to that. In setting up half a dozen or so smart devices in my home, the simple and seamless aspects have rarely materialized. Eventually, the lights, thermostats, and voice assistants worked, but not without some hassles and ongoing integration issues. The reality is that the smart home is still too complex, even for geeky people.

Makarov does provide some guidelines for developers. Among several ideas, he suggests the following:

  • Implement automatic plug-ins to create a better customer experience for setting up new devices
  • Provide a QR-code for identifying the system and avoiding an accidental connection to neighboring devices
  • Deploy cloud servers in a cluster to lessen the risk of users losing access when a mobile cloud server fails just when it’s most needed
Security Risk: Internet Traffic Intercepted

Another thing he recommends seems obvious, but it’s unclear how many developers do it. Many users have concerns about their data traffic being intercepted, which is a valid fear. His solution is to have developers simulate many scenarios and search for solutions. While logical, it can be costly. One assumes low budget developers avoid this time-consuming step or do just the bare minimum.

Despite the challenges, some companies in the smart home market have come up with better products that could help overcome the hurdles in setting up simple and seamless systems. A few recent examples include:

  • For apartment dwellers, Brilliant and ButterflyMX have joined forces to create an integrated system that enables renters to both communicate with visitors and management through an intercom system, but also control lighting, cameras, locks, and other smart home devices through a wall-mounted touch screen interface.
  • Intellithings has brought RoomMe to market after a couple of years in startup mode. RoomMe is a personal location sensor that can identify its owner upon entering a room and trigger smart devices to operate based on personal preferences. So, for instance, a set of LED lights could flash the person’s favorite team colors or lower the shades upon entering a room.
  • Appliance manufacturer LG is advancing the smarts in its refrigerators with an AI-powered app service that tells a user if the fridge is being used properly. For example, the service monitors the appliance for a malfunction or possible misuse, such as overcrowding the fridge and thus limiting airflow. Once an issue is detected, the user gets an alert to take some remedial action.
What Will Happen?

Smart home problems and challenges are not going away soon. But at least now the market has some maturity. Stakeholders have some experience and better software practices are coming into focus. It will likely be many years before we have truly integrated and seamless systems. For more on the smart home market, check out the Navigant Research report, The Smart Home Overview.