Peoples First Mistake
People always experience home control first: the ability to use a phone, tablet or computer to control the device in a new way. They believe that the future is here and their applications will become a distant place in their lives. They only focus on what they have gained, not what they have lost. You have installed some light bulbs and suddenly you will not be able to use the light switch. You will arrive home at night, then you must unplug your phone, open the app, let it connect, and finally you can turn on the lights. All the lights may be turned off when they are turned on. Yes, you can use presence detection to solve this problem. What should I do if your phone is dead? You will have to resort to the switch again.
If you find that using your new home devices is cumbersome, the promise of home automation technology has failed you. Your lights should work with both a switch (or button) at the entrance of your room and via presence detection. Honestly, there are hardly any valid use cases for being able to control lights from your phone except for showing off.
YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY USER IN YOUR HOUSE
People often forget that they are not the only person in the family. As your home developer, you are passionate about possibilities and willing to ignore defects. There is a high chance that other people in the family have different hobbies and only want to take care of their own business. This means everything you automate must work perfectly. If you successfully respond to a stimulus 90% of the time, you will experience a poor experience in 10% of the cases. A common automated operation that fits this mode is to dim the lights when you start watching a movie or series in the living room. It only works when everyone is watching.
LIMIT THE IMPACT OF FALSE POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES
For each type of automation, you must always consider: if it does not work, what will be the impact? Home automation consists of many different systems from many vendors using different protocols, which can go wrong. You need to ensure that they have limited impact when they fail. Ideally, the device should return to the previous experience of the smart home. If you use a regular switch to turn on or off the light bulb, or if it is not connected to a hub, it will behave like a standard light. If the situation gets worse when the system fails, users will be disappointed. For example, the Nest thermostat once had an error that caused it to stop heating peoples houses.
NO APP IS THE PERFECT APP
Home automation should be integrated with your current workflow, not replace it. In most cases, there is no way to control most devices faster than today. The best application is no application. The voice interface is the only interface that is more convenient to use, and visitors of all ages can access this interface. The industry is aware of this, and there are some major players focusing on voice interaction. Take Apple as an example: the only way to control HomeKit devices is to use Siri. Amazon and Google have taken a step further, providing a speaker/microphone that always listens in the living room.
Voice assistants can improve your day to day actions by processing your commands without the need to stop what you are doing and flick a switch or start a timer for example. They are perfect for checking in when you are away, viewing changes in the state of the house or making simple on/off commands.
The voice interface is not perfect either. Since you must wait for a response, the speed of issuing commands is sometimes slow.
SERVERS SHOULD RUN AT HOME, NOT IN THE CLOUD
Clouds are magical things. Somewhere in the world, a computer collects data generated by houses, tests it according to automated rules, and sends back commands when needed. Over time, the cloud will be updated and continuously improved, so that it can provide you with better services. Until it's not like that. There are many reasons why your family may lose its connection to the cloud. The Internet may stop working, updates may go wrong or the server running the cloud may crash or go out of business.
When this happens, your house should be able to keep running. Think of the cloud as an extension of running a smart home, not running it. In this way, you can avoid frustrating situations, where you can't turn on the bathroom light at 3am because the internet is down.
A good home automation server should never be annoying,
but should be missed when it does not work.