Smart Home

What?

Our aim is to build an intelligent, connected, efficient smart home through a combination of both consumer and DIY hardware, open-source automation software and some basic machine learning.

Why?

There’s been hype about the Internet of Things for years, and home automation is fundamentally nothing now.

We are, however, at a time when hardware and software are on the verge of maturity.

Consumer hardware includes smart TVs, voice assistants and connected lightbulbs.

Developments in software are exemplified by Home Assistant which adopts the following principles:

Where possible, you shouldn’t have to adapt to technology

This one is still tricky – presence detection is largely dependent on technology and voice assistants are still quite rigid about the structure of requests.

You are not the only user of your Home Automation

I’ve worked really hard on ensuring that I meet “partner acceptance” but guests still struggle.

I want to tackle my thoughts on this in another post at some point soon!

Limit the impact of false positives and negatives

I’ve tried to choose hardware based on its ability to fail gracefully - lights always have dumb physical switches. However, it’s a constant battle to mitigate false positives and negatives.

The perfect app is no app

The vast (vast) majority of tasks are achievable by 2+ methods (out of e.g. voice, switch, remote or switch). Sometimes an app is handy (if you’re on your phone already) but it shouldn’t be necessary for someone to resort to the app for >90% of day-to-day tasks.

Your system should run at home, not in the cloud

We’re lucky to have a fast, reliable fibre-to-the-premises connection but that doesn’t make us immune from internet outages. Hardware providers are far from immune from outages themselves – even if they use platforms like AWS.

More work to be done here though.

How?

Unsurprisingly then, we use Home Assistant as the platform for the Cronx smart home - the config for it is published here.

Further details about our architecture are available in this blog post

As time goes by, I hope we can document the rationale for our features, from idea to implementation.

Do get in touch if you have any ideas or comments - see the sidebar for details.