Home Automation without the CTO
Last week I was on my own in my automated house, without my chief technical officer. I consider myself fairly technical and I do enjoy gadgets, but if it were up to me we would probably not have quite so much automation. I certainly wouldn’t have three different hubs installed.
On my own, I use only a few services. I use the garage door opener app to open and close my door (my in-car clicker has been mysteriously broken), I use the Kevo app to lock and unlock the door, I use the Roomie Remote to control the TV, and I use an app to turn off the lights at night (I just use the wall switches like a normal person during the day).
For the most part, these all work fairly well with few glitches. The CTO set up the Roomie Remote app so that it has all the different services available by clicking a button. We have a dedicated living room iPad Mini that we use to run it. I can run all these devices pretty much without problem now, the only issue is that I usually (though not always) have to click the service button twice. For instance, if I want to listen to the radio, I click Denon Radio, it comes on, then after a few seconds it goes off, and I have to click it again. It’s more consistent than when we first started using it, and I’m used to it now. Once you get to the service you want it is really easy to use. It shows you a picture of the device’s actual remote and you can run it on the screen the same way. It is far more reliable and easy to use than the old Harmony One remote. I used to get so frustrated with that when the CTO was away I didn’t even try to watch TV.
Turning off the lights at night has been interesting. We have a script in the Smarthings app that is supposed to turn off all the lights at bedtime. Lately, that app has been very unreliable for me, it works like 1 out of 4 times or so. It launches with just a huge plus sign, and I can’t do anything. So I’ve had to resort to turning off my bedroom light with the Phillips Hue app, which we almost never use, which means I have probably left another light on somewhere in the house. But at least I can go to sleep.
My conclusion is, all this automation is neat, but it is still not simple, even for a bit of a techie like me. I don’t think any of this is close enough for my mom to use, other than maybe the Nest thermostat that you just install and and let it learn about you. I think we have a ways to go to really make it foolproof.