Let me start by saying I’m not a developer, I’ve no interest in being a developer, I’m a consumer of the products and services provided by developers.Unfortunately, in my eyes, these home automation products are not ready for the “general (non-techie) consumer”.
In my home I have the following:
2 Alexa Dots, 1 echo Spot, 1 echo Show
- Echo Connect
- Hue lights throughout the house (hub required)
- Harmony hub (to control the bedroom TV)
- Several WEMO plugs around the house
- Wemo Light switches
- TP-Link Light Switches and plugs
- 2 Nest 3rd gen Thermostats
- Nest Protect
- Schlage Door Locks
- Ring Pro video Doorbell
- Arlo Pro Security cameras
- AEgool LED light strips
- DreemScreen (on order)
- Chamberlin Smart Garage Hub
- 2 FireSticks wAlexa
I probably missed a few things but you get the idea.I’ve jumped into the deep end of this home automation pool; haven’t sprung for the big ticket items yet e.g., Washer Dryer, Refrig, Ovens.But that maybe in the future If this stuff ever gets to the point where we, the “general consumers” can turn it on and it “just works”
Amazon Echo/Alexa was my choice of the integration tool and expect that product to plug and play the other products. Why do I have to be the systems integrator?I’m paying premium prices for this stuff. $69 for 4 light bulbs, $250 for a speaker with a microphone and a 7 inc video display, $60 for a light switch, $500 for two thermostats, really?, I am crazy! That aside, when I pay those prices I expect to do basic stuff.For example, I want to set up a routine to shut down the house. I want to tell (not yell) Alexa, “Goodnight” and the following happens:
- Make sure all the doors are locked
- Make sure the garage door is closed (If it’s open she should ask if she should close it.)
- Kick the kids off the internet (turn off their access)
- Turn off the TVs
- Turn off the Lights and turn on the night lights
- Start Playing the sleep sounds
- Set the Thermostat to 65 degrees.
- 8)Read my schedule for tomorrow.
- Tell what the weather will be in the morning (if it’s going to be snowing leave extra time for commute.)
- When done she acknowledges by saying, “Sweet dreams you handsome, intelligent hunk.”( Okay, I have self-esteem issues, I’m working on it :-) )
And if I say, “Alexa, goodnight 7 am”, set an alarm for the next morning.
Now, I can do all of this by giving individual voice commands but why do I need to do that?Routines/Scenes, are just scripting languages, right? If I can tell Alexa to do something I should be able to put the same command in a Routine/Script.
Also, the existing integrations are woefully incomplete.A few examples, I have a Ring doorbell.If someone comes to the door I get a notification on my cell phone that someone’s there and I can see and talk to them without going to the front door.I get a certain level of security with the notification, the fact the video is recorded and it works well when I am away from the house but, when I’m home I have other expectations because I have Alexa and I am told, through Amazon’s marketing, “Ring works with Alexa”. Really? So, I expect when someone cones to the front door Ring would notify Alexa, Alexa would announce, “Someone is at the front door.”, display the video on my Show and Spot, and give me the option to talk to them through Alexa and the Ring doorbell speaker.
That’s what I expect when I am told, Ring woks with Alexa.” Instead it simply means, I can say, “Alexa, show me the front door.” When I feel like it and No, I can’t talk to any if they happen to be there.What good is that?What are the chances someone is there when I randomly ask to see the front door? Why not just look out the window? When I’m home I don’t always carry my phone around with me.If my phone is upstairs in the bedroom and I’m in the basement, I won’t get the notification and may not hear the doorbell.I want Alexa to provide value though the Alexa/Ring integration.Is that too much to ask?
Similar situation with the Arlo security cameras, I get a notification on my cell phone and can view the video. I’m told, “Arlo works with Alexa”Yet the only thing I can do is ask Alexa to show me the driveway camera.What good is that?(Again, I can loo out the window)The technology provides me a notification through my cell phone, why not through Alexa as well?
I won’t go into too much detail about the crazy TV situation because I might explode but, I have DVD, FIreStick TV w/ Alexa, and a Harmony hub. (By the way, I bought the FireSticks to view Youtube TV, not just YouTubeThe Amazon/Google feud has rendered that purchase and the subscription worthless!) The “Harmony activities” rarely work with the TV.I am never sure what will work so, I might as well just keep using the remote.Yes, turning the TV on or off, changing the volume, pausing/continuing live TV work relatively well. BUT, I can only do that with one TV in the house!We have 4 TVS. So, If I get 4 Harmony hubs, set up 4 different Amazon Alexa accounts, at least 4 different Alexa devices, and get 4 Harmony hubs.I can turn on/off the other 4 TVs.
Every time I put something new in the system I need to install/authorize/search for devices/reboot/call tech support and hang on the line for hours trying to figure out why something doesn’t work correctly, etc.Not exactly plug-n-play.Don’t even try to tell me “well you can use IFTTT or Yonomi, or what ever” who has time for that?This stuff quickly turns into a full time job, you need your own personal IT department to keep the house running.
Who would be crazy to go through all this? (Apparently, me and a bunch of techno weenies with no life but the “general consumers” think we’re nuts!)
Okay, I’ll end my rant.My request to the Alexa is if you say product X works with Alexa complete the integration!Make sure we can use Alexa as if we were using the native interface in the way a normal person would use it.Your revenues would skyrocket.Otherwise someone else will step in and Alexa with become extinct.
Read ,”Crossing the Chasm” or maybe….. you can get Alexa to read it to you :-)
If you’ve read all this, you’re as crazy as I am.
Be safe out there!