The concept of Smart Home is to make a user’s entire living experience favorable and comfortable by striking a right balance of convenience and cost. That definitely doesn’t end at installing one or two Smart Devices in your house and calling it a Smart Home, it includes automating the trivial tasks of turning the thermostat on to complex operations like monitoring surveillance system and pushing notifications in case of system fail/update.
With all the appliances and devices communicating with each other and user, there is no single platform where all of them could be managed; each device/appliance comes with its own software and remote control system for operation. This becomes a problem for the user since now he/she has to manage each of these Smart Devices independently.
Smart Home Mobile App, could solve the problem of managing multiple devices in Smart Homes via Smartphones even at remote locations. Users are already comfortable with mobile apps and have a tendency to spend more time on their mobile phones than any other place, providing a facility to control their home appliances via a mobile app is a definite winner.
This article highlights certain points to be kept in mind while developing Smart Home Mobile Apps.
Different vendors design their devices in different ways and have a different mechanism of controlling them, apart from the basic task of power on and off there is a huge platform dependency in controlling these devices from a third party controller, usually, additional hardware installations are used to enable compatibility between devices.
Mobile apps can be used to solve the problem of interoperability in device communications by providing a common platform at which data between the devices can be shared. Devices can send their data to the app and receive data from the app, without even knowing the real source of data. A single Smart Home Mobile App can be used to consolidate other device-specific apps on a single dashboard to provide a user-friendly interface to operate multiple home devices.
The mobile app should be able to use local WiFi spot or Bluetooth/ NFC type connection to communicate with the devices and control them from a remote location. Probably with the help of a central server at home, the mobile app should be able to control devices even via internet. So when you are away from home you have means to switch OFF any of the appliances that have been left ON or running.
Notifications are one of the most important features for which users are even ready to pay for. While away from home many feel anxious about the security of their home or leaving devices running. The Smart Home Mobile App should be able to push notifications regarding gas leaks or lights or doors left open etc. Information regarding the current status of devices are equally necessary, the battery life or soft updates available should all be notified to the user for implementation.
Security and Data Privacy
Proper security protocols must be followed to communicate with Smart Home devices and Proper firewall settings should be recommended to prevent the user from snooping attacks, and data thefts. The Smart Home app should not become an additional risk to user security; on the contrary, they should protect users from not just physical threats but soft ones too. Notifications regarding latest security updates should be pushed to the user if not set to “update automatically”.
With Smart Home app bringing the control of all the devices on a single dashboard there are many ways in which the apps can be controlled in mix and matches. For example, user can add preferred devices in the home page and create scenario or routines that when activated should perform a group of actions, for example, a routine like “morning alarm” will activate the blinds to open, switch on the coffee maker, and water heater, put on morning news etc… and a “good night” routine would close the blinds, adjust room temperature, switch off lights and TV, set the morning alarm and etc.
The user interface of Smart Home Mobile App is crucial and has to be extremely simple and user-friendly, it should not confuse user between devices leading them to switch ON or OFF wrong devices. The User interface should be clear and easy to comprehend, the user should be able to choose icons and color scheme so that they can familiarise with the app easily.