Week 7: Paul's Smart home diary

What smart home platform should I use?
Week 7: Paul's Smart home diary

The wires and cables are in. The boiler is being put back together and will be ready for Nest Thermostat connection imminently. I'm almost ready to have the broadband installed to get my smart devices connected. I need to start thinking about what smart home platform I should choose.

That was my thinking a few days ago, at least.

Now, after some research, I've realised that the world of smart home connectivity is a bit messy. Actually, that's a massive understatement. It's a clusterfuck of confusing tangents.

Works with Nest. HomeKit. Wink. Z-Wave. Zigbee. SmartThings. Brillo… These are just a handful of the many, many words that will eventually blur into one complicated ball of disorientation in your mind when reading up on the latest smart home standards.

We've got one of the clearest explainers about the differences here on Wareable (natch) but, even with that, you'll find there are no right or wrong answers.

The trouble is that, although the big names – Apple, Google and Samsung especially – all want in on the smart home action, the genre is still so embryonic that no-one has really set the standard yet. And while you'll find a bunch of articles online about how the fragmentation of the smart home will be its downfall, that's not really true.

I've chosen a bunch of cool tech to kit my home out already – which I'll be talking about in more detail in the weeks to come – and I'll be dipping my toes into an array of platforms and standards right from the off.

And I really don't think it's that much of a problem. Most of the high profile stuff works across platforms anyway. Take Philips Hue for example. You can control the smart bulbs, officially, using Android and iOS and there are loads of third-party apps for Linux, Windows, Mac and more. Philips Hue also 'Works with HomeKit' and 'Works with Nest'.

Why should I pin my colours to the Google or Apple mast when a smart home giant like Philips hasn't?

Even when dealing with a company specific product – such as Google's Nest Thermostat –the door still isn't shut. You can control it with iOS devices, as well as Android, and while you might not get the single command luxury that HomeKit affords Nest rival Honeywell, you can always cook up recipes using IFTTT or Yonomi.

Even Samsung, king of the guarded castle, knows that shutting up shop is a bad idea. Its SmartThings open platform lets you control hundreds of connected devices from other brands.

Samsung SmartThings
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Yes, for starters I might end up with a few 'hubs' connected to my router and that isn't ideal. But it's hardly a disaster and I'm sure that, over time, things will become more streamlined and I can begin to dump those extra little boxes.

So, my advice is not to get too bogged down with specific platforms or brands when starting out with your smart home planning. It's early days yet and it's not clear yet what platform, if any, will go on to dominate.

Let me know which devices, standards and platforms you're choosing and any issues you've had getting individual smart appliances and products to play nicely together in the comments and on the Wareable Forum.

Now read Week 8


Week 1: Planning the ultimate smart home
Week 2: Getting started with home networking
Week 3: Deciphering the matrix
Week 4: Burying Ethernet cables
Week 5: Not much happened
Week 6: Things are heating up

What do you think?

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