Are you ready for new smart home device triggers? – Stacey on IoT
This article was first published Friday Dec. 2, 2022 in my weekly newsletter.
Depending on your smart home platform, you may already be familiar with, or even using, device information to automatically make something happen in your home. Apple’s HomeKit platform, for example, allows for this, and I use this feature in my own home. Amazon offers limited but growing support for device triggers, while Google is just getting around to adding this feature through its new Household Routines.
The ability to use one device’s information as a trigger event for one or more other devices to change state is what I’d consider the next step forward for the smart home. It may not sound like a huge step, but it’s an important one. And as devices from different brands begin to communicate with one another through the new Matter standard, consumers will be able to get more value from the hardware and devices they buy or already own.
To illustrate, I’ll use one of my home’s device triggers. I’ll also use it to showcase the difference between a device trigger and a voice command or time-based routine.
I live in an end-unit townhome, so my front door is actually located on the side of the house. Way around the corner is the garage door. Next to the front door, I have a standard light fixture with a connected bulb. And over the garage door, I have the Eve Outdoor Cam with a floodlight.
Eve Outdoor Cam Image courtesy K. Tofel
Unfortunately, the two devices are on the same circuit, controlled by a standard switch inside the front door. Flip one switch and you light up the front porch and the driveway near the garage. Which makes sense when you realize the home was built 20 years ago. But in 2022, that’s not what I want. Why? Because I need that switch to always be on for the camera over the garage. If I do that, however, the front porch light is lit up day and night. So we don’t touch the switch. We leave it on and use a voice command to illuminate the porch as needed.
How can you say no to Norm when he wants to go outside? Image courtesy of K. Tofel
The problem is that our dog is getting older. Recently, he started to need a quick bio break in the middle of the night. The first few times this happened, we’d fumble for a phone to open our Home app and enable the porch light. Or we’d use voice commands, which would wake up whoever wasn’t walking the dog. Since neither was a good solution, I turned to a device trigger.
Now, whenever we manually unlock the smart lock on our front door, the front porch light automatically lights up for 10 minutes. After that, the light automatically goes out. That’s enough time to enable a quick doggie break and get back inside. And it’s all kicked off by that device trigger, as the smart lock being unlocked (only during hours of darkness, I might add) effectively tells the smart bulb to light up.
My device trigger solution. Image courtesy of K. Tofel
Unlike using a voice command or the tap of a button to tell the home what to do, my home is reacting to an event and taking an appropriate, albeit pre-defined, action.