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The End-ALL of Home Automation Systems?


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#1 nolos

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Posted 11 September 2018 - 08:30 AM

Hey Everyone, we are in the process of developing a new Home Automation system that will hopefully put an end to all the additional hubs and protocol integration problems. We were hoping to get your thoughts and opinions on our software and additional hardware pieces that we can include in our final revisions. Have a look at what we are creating. Along with the normal features you would expect in a good Home Automation system, here are some additional things we are bringing to the table. All input is appreciated, good OR bad!

The software and new hardware are what will set this system apart from every other system out there. The hardware makes getting everything connected a breeze. Each module has a unique set of features for your needs. You buy what you need for your application and don’t have to worry about the rest. Each module comes equipped with wifi, z-wave, zigbee, and thread (Nest) technology so all those existing devices will work with our system. In addition, each unique module will have the appropriate hardware integrated in order to provide complete functionality for anything needed for the tasks at hand. For example, the Video module will include the standard wifi, z-wave, zigbee, and thread technologies and will also include and HDMI port for video to the tv, an IR port to capture remote control commands, and USB ports to charge devices and/or for additional addon devices.

The software is designed to bring all the smart home pieces together. Currently Nest devices, z-wave/zigbee home automation devices, wifi cameras, security hardware, and audio/video devices are generally separated from each other and the majority of them require a separate hub. The goal of the software is to provide an easy-to-use system that incorporates all these technologies in one system. Some of the features include:

Software

Dashboard software. You will have the option to mount tablets to the wall or sit them on the tables and use our dashboard software to monitor and control your system. Dashboards are a big piece that’s missing from the popular home automation systems. 
Ability to stream video wirelessly to any Video module in the home
Live TV integration
PVR to record live tv for later watching
Ability to set up a TV Guide
On-screen viewing of surveillance cameras on any TVs connected to a Video module, including the main hub
Automatic on-screen popup viewing of surveillance cameras when motion is detected. If motion is detected then the camera video will pop up:
On any TV that is on and connected to a Video module. Even if a show is playing, it will be paused and the video will display if the setting is enabled
On any TV that is off that is connected to a video module. The system will try to determine which rooms are occupied by a person and will switch on those TVs
On other devices with the mobile software installed such as iPads or mobile phones
On any mounted tablets that are running the dashboard software
Integration with Google Home and Alexa
Complete remote functionality. Ability to control Audio & Video devices that use a remote control, allowing apps and dashboard tablets to control your TVs and Radios
Video pop-up on doorbell ring & ability to “buzz” people in
Location awareness via fobs, sensors, and mobile devices
Security incorporation. Monthly paid home monitoring for fire, security, etc.
Active Inform. Verbally talks to you when doors are opened, where motion is detected, which devices are left on, etc.
Fully customizable rules
HVAC smart control
Integrates with smart home controlled air vents to only heat/cool rooms outside that room’s temp threshhold
Suggests opening windows if outside temp is helpful in raiding/lowering inside temp
Suggests/Auto opens blinds or drapes to help change inside temp
Track when it’s time to change filter
Constantly adding support for wireless devices that aren’t designed for smart home integration. For example, even though your wifi body scale is not part of your smart home, the system knows it’s located in the bathroom and that your are on it so your are in that room. And you can set rules accordingly.
Home intercom between any devices running the software including dashboard tablets and mobile devices.
Calendar integration
Local camera streaming. Option to only send video to the cloud for recording when motion is detected, saving bandwidth. 

Hardware
Individual modules for each specific need including:
Video/Game – includes support for Z-wave, Zigbee, Nest, Samsung, Wifi, USB, IR, HDMI, Bluetooth (has ability to plug in controllers for playing games)
Internet - includes support for Z-wave, Zigbee, Nest, Samsung, Wifi, ethernet jack, USB
Audio - includes support for Z-wave, Zigbee, Nest, Samsung, Wifi,USB, Bluetooth, IR, headphone jack, speaker terminals & integrated amp to power external speakers
Extend - includes support for Z-wave, Zigbee, Nest, Samsung, Wifi,USB ,Bluetooth
Supports current Zigbee, Z-wave, Nest, and other home automations components. You can continue using all your current product without having to replace everything.


Additional phases will include the ability to stream DRM content (like roku and firestick), ability to recognize individuals by voice & personal devices and change to their rulesets, integration with IPTV services such as XUMO, sound sensor to detect the beat of the music and automatically change the light colors to the beat. AI to anticipate needs and movements.

The big change to hardware is it’s delivery process. Everything will be based on your pre-existing wifi connection throughout the house. We will be sending all signals through wifi, including zigbee & z-wave, eliminating the need for placing several different types of repeaters across the house in order to get your different signals to function properly. A good example is for z-wave. When you place one of your modules in the Bedroom to watch TV, it contains all the appropriate hardware in it (hdmi, wifi, usb, IR, z-wave, zigbee, and a plugin so you don’t loose your power from the outlet). All these technologies are either converted or encapsulated within the module and then sent via wifi back & forth to the hub. As long as you have wifi reception in that room you also have all the previously mentioned technologies available. All modules contain a zigbee and z-wave antenna so even if you are plugging in a module for TV,ethernet, or music then all the zigbee/z-wave devices in that room will automatically be connected as well.



#2 ano

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Posted 11 September 2018 - 12:11 PM

Hello nolos:
 
First welcome.  I'm sure you will get lots of comments out of this bunch. Since "home automation" means different things to different people, so consider that when you look at responses.
 
I will only provide three comments where I see other systems struggle. First, people here don't generally like cloud solutions, and this is especially true for security. Security is a big one because much is at stake, so UL approval is a must, but also consider leaving security to the security panels already with an ecosystem and maybe just communicate with them for status. Performing "security" is a big beast, so really consider if you have the resources to enter this area.
 
Second, if you want to communicate with the many home automation devices out there, someone has to make an interface to each, and this can be complex. In addition, these interfaces change over time, so someone has to maintain these. Making the interface open-source helps so people can contribute interfaces. In any case, maintaining these is very time intensive and where things sometimes fall flat.
 
Third, deciding how you will make money is a big decision. One time charge with subscription, just subscription, maintenance charges, etc.  In any case YOU need to make money so you or someone maintains this system, and people need to feel the payments are fair. This has always been a challenge as well.
 
In any case, good luck with your endeavors and I'm sure many here are rooting for you.

Edited by ano, 11 September 2018 - 12:13 PM.


#3 jon102034050

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 07:31 AM

welcome! While I appreciate your enthusiasm, I'll wait to judge once I see a product like this. Do you have a website? That may be a good place to start. 



#4 wkearney99

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 09:27 AM

Call me a cynic, but the road is littered with the corpses of well-intentioned efforts.  Lots of hand-waving, feature lists and big talk about being game-changers.  Most of which falls apart when it comes to actual implementations in the field.

If it was "that easy" then everybody would already be doing it.  When you don't see efforts already doing something it's important to understand why.  More often than not it boils down to the 'good, fast, cheap... pick two' argument.  Sure, an in-room concentrating hub (of sorts) has amazing potential for helping coordinate processes that would otherwise be challenging from a centralized server perspective.  Voice recog being most notable in this respect. 

 

Why hasn't everyone been doing that before?  The initial reason has been, of course, unit cost.  Coming a close second has been physical location requirements, which is coupled very closely with decor restrictions.  As in, it'd be too expensive to generate enough separate devices to effectively cover all the room installation requirements.  On-wall, on-table, white, black, brushed-stainless, etc.  Each of which having product liability and safety testing costs.

I wish you well, but priming the pump with marketing-speak is not going to be well-received without actual devices being presented.



#5 nolos

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 09:25 AM

wkearney99, Thanks for the reply and I appreciate the info.  I completely understand about lots of people promising to forge a new path too but you've got to start somewhere.  We may in up in the same pile of corpse companies along with the rest but if people don't try then there can be no progress.  We have the hardware figured out, we've started on the software, and we just wanted to put some feelers out to see if there are any software features we missed that you experienced HA users could think of that we can add.  The list of features we listed isn't for marketing.  We are showing them to give you an idea of what hardware capabilities the system will have so that everyone can make software feature suggestions based on those capabilities.  We are a ways from selling anything.  We just need experienced input on what other systems are missing from a software standpoint.  I realize you've been through all this before, probably several times, but it costs nothing to offer your suggestions and who knows, if it succeeds then there will be a great product out there that you guys had a direct influence on the end result.



#6 pete_c

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 11:41 AM

Guessing here after many years of automation next steps are artificial intelligence (AI). 
 
Older these days personally I am old fashioned and like many older folks tend to stick to what I can see and touch and hear sourced in my home.
 
It's a hobby here and as such I sometimes do not look at the spend (or total spend over the years).
 
Long math way today the house knows which cars are in the garage, when to turn on lights, which family member is coming in to the house and a series of triggers and events processing using touch or text to speech and or voice recognition.   Relating to automation protocals here use all of them and they all play well with each other. 

I always mention here Cocoontech that anyone can do this with historical automation knowledgebase. Much of my knowledgebase relating to automations comes from this forum and just doing it.
 
In the future maybe.....
 
I don't want to tell or touch my automation rather I want it to be a personality or home omnipresence that knows me or any body in the house and automates accordingly. 

#7 wkearney99

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 03:11 PM

We just need experienced input on what other systems are missing from a software standpoint.  I realize you've been through all this before, probably several times, but it costs nothing to offer your suggestions and who knows, if it succeeds then there will be a great product out there that you guys had a direct influence on the end result.

 

So, free product development and research is what you're after.  With no promise of compensation or expected delivery dates.  Color me skeptical.  



#8 pete_c

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 04:06 PM

A while back here after an online forum chat which involved a new company start up which many Cocoontech members particpated in got involved.
 
The online live chat was with the person (owner) starting the automation hardware device company.  He did ask all sorts of questions relating to what best features would be in the hardware for automation.  It was beneficial and a lively discussion relating to his start up company. 
 
Personally got an invite to help the start up company pro bono sort of.  The company sent me beta hardware and development hardware stuff gratis and was asked to be a moderator and expert of sorts with their new hardware answering questions about it before and during initial distribution.  I played with it much getting familiar with it.  The initial hardware OS was based in OpenWRT and I had already been tinkering with this stuff.  Sometimes there where hardware modifications sent in a note where I would have to solder or unsolder stuff from the main OS board.
 
I liked the original concept and the company is doing well today.
 
The above said why don't you set up some sort of online presentation which we can all participate in and chat?
 
I am sure you would get a few folks interesting in your new product and you would get some input. 
 
Not sure what the medium age of automators is on the forum.  Thinking many or most are us are seasoned a bit but not over done yet ;)

#9 upstatemike

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 09:00 PM

Curious about the strategy to move everything to Wi-Fi when the general feeling is that most LANs are already struggling with the overload of new devices due to the rapid expansion of IoT. I know I am up to 200+ reserved addresses in my router shrinking my DHCP pool down below 50 addresses so shifting my 200+ Zigbee and Insteon devices to Wi-Fi does not sound very practical. What is the target scalability for this product?



#10 picta

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 10:09 PM

Guessing here after many years of automation next steps are artificial intelligence (AI).

 

"I'm sorry Pete, I am afraid I can't do that"



#11 JonW

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 10:58 PM

"I'm sorry Pete, I am afraid I can't do that"

 LOL  :rofl:



#12 pete_c

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 02:38 AM

For those too young to understand.
 
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)  imdb
 


Yeah here right now try to have no dependencies on the cloud for my automation. I tinker with it.

#13 linuxha

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 08:32 AM

>... the general feeling is that most LANs are already struggling with the overload of new devices due to the rapid expansion of IoT. I know I am up to 200+ reserved addresses in my router shrinking my DHCP pool ...

 

I simply shifted from 24 bit mask (256 hosts) to a 22 bit mask (1024 hosts).

 

But I'm also not using my router as the DHCP server (rather an internal Linux Box is my DHCP server).

 

I do agree with the overload of the wireless. So far my wireless is working but I've switched to multiple APs  (and it's a small home). My setup is not typical of a normal user. Though I think we can agree that Cocooner's are not going to fit into that group (normal users). And to add icing, most of my stuff is wired LAN.



#14 linuxha

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 08:43 AM

Yeah here right now try to have no dependencies on the cloud for my automation. I tinker with it.

 

I'm still trying to understand what data to use to feed an AI. And while I'm at it what the AI would do for us.

 

Perhaps this would be best left for another topic as this seems to be drifting from the original topic.



#15 wkearney99

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 10:13 AM

I posted about more intelligent assistance a while ago, could have been during a thread with the charmed quark folks.

 

It's really a shame Microsoft's Clippy and Bob experiences were tried before the hardware was ready to support them. Because they were on the right track with "it looks like you're trying to..." methods.  There's a lot of really mundane bits of info that could be used to identify patterns that could be used for assistive processes.  Lots of home data and patterns can be learned.  If it's hot and sunny, cold and rainy, if the forecast indicates something, etc.  Those could well be analyzed to provide information for commuting or even alter in-house schedules.  As in, before you wake the house already knows there's bad weather, train delays and unexpected slow-downs on your drive to the train station.  Thus wake you a few minutes early, start the coffee pot a few minutes earlier.  And if you hit snooze have it tell you there's not going to be time to make your planned breakfast.  Yeah, trivial crap like this is definitely the sort of thing that gets larger markets to take interest.  The trick, of course, is collecting all this info in ways that allow doing so without wrecking user privacy concerns.  Well, the larger trick is doing it in a way that remains profitable over time, not just as a one-shot initial sale of hardware.






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