'What comes to mind when you think of a smart home? Wi-Fi enabled
light bulbs, video doorbells, cloud-connected robot vacuums, or smart
fridges perhaps? Brands like Google/Nest or everything enabled with
Amazon’s Alexa? While often providing some genuine convenience, these
devices are also usually designed to invite and lock users into
manufacturers' ecosystems. Create a cool piece of hardware, you’ll
make one sale. Create a cool piece of hardware that extracts recurring
monthly service fees for cloud storage or to unlock extra
functionality, and you’ll have sales for life.
Compounding our collective frustration, these ecosystems are often
incompatible with each other and require multiple different apps for
control. Not only are subscriptions and upselling part of the game,
the underlying business models for these products are built around
planned obsolescence and mining user data.
Luckily, aspirational smart home folks in 2021 have at least one
viable alternative: Home Assistant. This piece of open source software
is the proverbial ring “that in the darkness binds them.” It is the
glue for smart home gear spanning all sorts of manufacturers, from
behemoths like Google to minnows like Shelly. It’s a project that has
set out to change all of the smart home pitfalls listed above by
putting local control, privacy, and interoperability first.'
Dept. of Computer Science
University of Waikato, NZ
+64 (7) 577-5304