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Supporting a connected home is about education, not troubleshooting

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When I first installed a SmartThings kit last summer I proudly looked at my pile of sensors, my connected outlets and locks and wondered, now what? It was a deflating moment and could have ended the march into my newly connected life. It’s one reason I think people are better off buying a connected device they know they want rather than a hub to later build out home automation.

As service providers, DIYers and others are getting more curious about smart homes though, the big names are thinking about how to get consumers past that “now what?” moment and into a happily automated lifestyle. This week I chat with James Morehead, the VP of product management at about how to get consumers over the chasm and into a smart home. We also talk about recipes and the need for profiles or some level of customization in the smart home. The trick is doing that at scale. I suspect the solution will be intelligent algorithms, but we’re not there yet.

Meanwhile, Kevin Tofel and I start off with a chat about security gaps in his connected cameras and a connected garage door. Instead of getting excited about the ability to see if my door is closed or not, I’m more excited about the door as a trigger. In fact, I suspect that once people start thinking of their connected devices that way, they’ll have a lot more fun.

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Host: Stacey Higginbotham
Guests: Kevin Tofel and James Morehead of

  • Are Kevin’s webcam’s secure? Does he care?
  • Connecting my garage door and thinking different about why I’m doing so.
  • How do we get mainstream consumers to care about the smart home?
  • The worst time to try to sell people on the smart home is right after installers leave.


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5 Responses to “Supporting a connected home is about education, not troubleshooting”

  1. I’m looking forward to hearing your experiences with the MyQ garage door system. I recently upgraded my Liftmaster opener (made by Chamberlain) with the MyQ 888LM Control Panel (replacing the original opener button and controls) and 828LM Gateway.

    I like the features added by the new control pad including:
    o Motion sensor control of the garage light
    o Automatic closing of the garage door after selectable time delay
    o Adding new remotes and control pads from the control panel (there’s a Learn button on the control panel, previously I had to use a ladder to push it on the opener.)
    o Smartphone and web control of the door and sensing of the state.

    However, it is a completely closed system developed for Chamberlain by Arrayent. You can make it send you emails when it opens/closes so sensing could be done via IFTTT, or use SmartThings solution of attaching a Multi module to the door. To command it you’d likely need to either use a relay wired in parallel to the button on the control panel, or to the button of an extra remote.

  2. Nicholas Paredes

    Think of the various technologies that required technical skills. The camera before Kodak. The auto before Ford. I’ll leave it to you to determine whether products that require special skills to operate will meet success.

  3. Samir Shah

    People and analysts say Apple was crazy not buying Nest. To them I say ‘crazy like a fox’.
    History repeats itself and I will give an analogy to prove the point

    Nest is like IBM Personal Computer in early days, Nest is like the first microcomputer that sparked a Personal Computer revolution.

    Bluetooth Smart is like ISA Personal Computer standard bus standardized by IBM. ISA bus worked quite well for Personal Compters but it had limits when one wanted a powerful Pesonal Computer (not electrical power but conceptual power). In same way Bluetooth Smart works OK for connected home but is not poweful enough (not electrical power but conceptual power) for a connected home.

    Then EISA authority brought EISA, it addresed some concepts but was more or less a rehash of ISA. Wi-Fi is like EISA. Wi-Fi can address some needs of connected home but needs too much electrical power and hence it is, in a way, like a rehash of Bluetooh Smart. Both Bluetooth Smart and Wi-Fi were made for mobiles and were never intended for connected homes.

    Enter Intel with PCI bus specifically made for Personal Computers, PCI bus worked so well that ISA and EISA were forgotten in a jiffy. Same way Apple will introduce a connected home bus and perpherals that address both conceptual (Plug and Play) and electrical power considerations (equivalent to or better than Bluetooth Smart) targetting connected home.

    Google just baught a maker of connected home environment which Apple did not want. Apple did not buy Nest because they want a connected home ecosystem where they can set standards.

    Stacey, there was a lot of discussion about Google, Apple and Nest. Here is my two cents worth.

    • beenyweenies

      PCI bus would never have been so widely adopted if it were a proprietary standard that was managed the way Apple manages their proprietary standards. For example, mfrs. of speaker docks and other devices that want to include an Apple 30-pin connector must be approved by Apple, pay ridiculous fees and the product must be fully subjected to Apple’s approval. No FRAND licensing here, that’s for sure.

      I think Apple’s role in the smart home will be limited to their own series of expensive devices featuring high end industrial design and fully proprietary standards, something that will mostly only appeal to the Apple ecosystem faithful.