An Appeal for More Smart Home Companies to Integrate

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The Josh.ai main dashboard

The surging trend of home automation has led to new companies and connected products emerging on a daily basis. Here at Josh.ai, we’re constantly on the lookout for new systems and devices that can give our clients a great experience. That being said, it becomes increasingly important for our society to stay technologically literate and keep up to speed with innovation.

For home automation there is a wide spectrum of Wi-Fi enabled products. They range from Lutron’s lighting system to Sonos’ suite of wireless Hifi speakers, which can all be controlled by separate smartphone apps. These apps give us the benefit of convenience, allowing us to control devices from our phone anywhere we are. For example, for those of us with vacation or second homes, we can rest easy knowing that if we leave that home in a hurry and forget to turn off the heat or the lights, we can simply check and adjust remotely after we have left.

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Connected systems, such as the Nest Thermostat, allow clients to access and control the devices remotely (photo credit)

However, the more connected products we buy, the more apps we have to download. What happens, for example, if we decide to buy two different brands of security camera, such as Nest and Mobotix? We have to download two separate apps and manage the devices from two different places, even though they are providing the same functionality. We need to learn how to use each app efficiently and make different settings in each so that the products work to our liking. These settings become tedious to configure with a multitude of options and new languages to understand. It is therefore easy to be worried of a never-ending onslaught of apps we will need to download to control these connected products, particularly as they become more and more ubiquitous.

Also, what happens if we lose our phones? Do we lose those settings too? Many settings and preferences are stored in the cloud, but some settings can be locally stored on the app. Learning to use these apps becomes increasingly challenging and can lead to a frustrating dead end.

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A broken phone may cause you to lose some of your settings (photo credit)

In the high-end luxury market, there have been companies seeking to integrate most home products, such as Crestron and Savant. Unfortunately, these integration systems can be extremely complicated to program, leading to unstable control systems that require costly technician follow-ups. Aside from the complicated setups, these systems are also slow to adopt to technologies such as true speech control and AI.

The Right Foresight

Many of these control companies also create their own hardware, often pushing these proprietary, and sometimes inferior, hardware solutions for the hopes of higher revenue. Many times, though, the end-client is left with a sub-par system that works just enough to make the consumer happy, but not enough to delight them. Don’t get me wrong, these systems are pretty amazing, but they aren’t always integrated properly and not every system is appropriate for every customer.

With the right foresight companies can make a transition from proprietary software and closed hardware to a product that is able to communicate freely. By opening up and allowing external developers to build, the companies would essentially be gaining free development resources. By allowing third-party manufacturers to integrate, these companies would grow partnerships and technologies beyond the scope of what was initially thought possible. We’re seeing this happen with Lutron, and recently Sonos started opening up to more and more 3rd party solutions. That said only by opening up these systems can the companies truly innovate, and be proactive in anticipating the technological trends to come.

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This post was written by Benji at Josh.ai. Benji is an intern on the Business Development team. Prior to joining, Benji worked in product strategy for Sonos. Outside of work you can find Benji eating at new restaurants, cycling throughout Los Angeles, and woodworking. Benji graduated from UCSB in 2016.

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