Your worst nightmare — Realized!

The reason Aegis decided to define the smart home experience.

Image courtesy of http://sf.co.ua/id55689

Imagine it’s December. The holiday music is playing, the cocoa is brewing, and you are traveling all around. Bouncing from holiday party to holiday party. Enjoying delicious food and of course the company of family and friends. Now, imagine returning home to find that it had been invaded while you were away. What remains of your belongings is either damaged or utterly tainted by the hands of thieves. These thieves decided to throw everything around that they didn’t deem worthy enough to take. You start to panic. You can’t breathe. So many emotions running through your veins. One however, is more prevalent than the others. You have been violated in a way that makes you cringe. You now no longer feel safe in your own home.

It’s at this moment that you are either thankful you have insurance, or realize you are fucked. Hear me now. It doesn’t matter if you rent or own… get insurance! You will be glad you did. Most of us work very hard to provide our families with what we consider a “rich” life. Not being able to recover from an event like this would be devastating.

You might also realize that you could have avoided this in some fashion if you had just installed a security system, or had a big dog, or maybe a turret. But you didn’t… and here you are. So what do you do next? Where do you go from here?

Well, I’ll tell you what I did. After the police report, after the insurance claim, I actually went ahead and had a security system installed. I figured a turret would be taking it too far. My family needed something quickly and since we were already a Comcast customer, we decided to go with Xfinity Home. They offer a decent solution today, but when I had it installed about 4 years ago, it was still pretty new and lacking in quality. Interestingly enough, their system still has some of the biggest issues that I had with them years ago.

  1. Control. You actually need one of their technicians to install new products. As a fairly competent human being I found this to be just ridiculous. Especially since the only thing stopping an individual like myself from installing a new device was a damn technician code. They literally lock you out of having control of your own home.
  2. Integrations. Although they have gotten better in recent years, I would have expected them to be much further along than they actually are. This may be the reason they acquired Stringify. Which, I expect will get consumed into the closed loop of the Xfi-ecosystem.
  3. Privacy. When something happens to you like this, you find yourself being a bit more paranoid about your privacy. In short, I just don’t like the idea of one company having that much of my families actions on their servers. They already knew what we watched, when we watched it, they knew when and who we called, they knew what we were browsing on the internet, and now they could see our camera feeds, and know when we come and go? Just a bit much. In fact, so much, that I resorted to just keeping internet service from them.
  4. Business model. Since we no longer felt comfortable in the house that was invaded, we decided to move. Comcast wouldn’t let us just setup the devices we already had, they wanted us to purchase all new products. Additionally, they would not install the old products along with the new. That might have made sense if they were going to offer newer hardware, but they didn’t.

Needless to say, I abandoned them in favor of a more customer oriented solution. I decided to go with a “Smart Home” system with rules, automation, and you guessed it, integrations. I figured something that calls itself a smart home should have an awesome security solution, right? I mean, how can your home be “smart” if it can’t even secure itself properly? Well, I found out the hard way that is not necessarily true. I ended up going with the Wink Hub because they happened to have a lot of integrations with brands that I was already using. However, even with all their integrations, the security features surprisingly seemed to take a back seat. Don’t get me wrong, Wink is a powerful system, and you can configure almost anything with robots and the right equipment. But you would have to know how to configure it all, and what devices to include in order to make it automated and seamless. Having something like location modes is such an natural and essential part of how humans interact with their homes, that it really should be an integral part of the user experience. If that weren’t enough, I found out that many of the integrations offered were severely lacking in features when compared to the product offering from the intergrated providers. For example, many of the brands that offer camera feeds are just non-existent in the Wink app, like the Ring Doorbell and the Canary All-in-One Security System.

The thing is, it’s not just Wink. It seems that all these connected platforms have some inherently flawed issue that they can’t seem to get passed. SmartThings for instance has some good security features out of the box, but they rely too much on third parties to create extensions in order to integrate devices. This makes the platform geared toward coders, which won’t help the average person get started with connected devices on their platform.

It seems these companies are too focused on doing their own thing. They’re hoping that users will adopt their platform over all the others, and in the process missing the mark altogether.

The strict reality is that no single hardware provider will be able to offer all the users of this fast growing market everything they want. As people get more and more devices, they are inevitably going to have to go outside of the product offerings their hub provides. It’s actually already been happening. I know of too many people with both a SmartThings and Wink hub. This simply should not be happening! There should only be one brain for each location, but people have resorted to this in order to get the functionality they need from their connected home. That’s why people love IFTTT and Stringify so much. They use those services to communicate with devices outside of their platform solution. This however, doesn’t help much for controlling and viewing the state of their products. They still have to use their product’s standalone app for that.

We need to start thinking about the consumer. People ultimately want to have the devices they want to have. Additionally, they want those devices to talk to all their other devices. On top of that, people don’t want to manage 50 different apps on their phone to view and control all their devices.

This is where Aegis comes in.

  1. We believe users should be able to view, control, and manage all their connected devices through a single real-time dashboard. They should be able to do this from anywhere they have an internet connection, not just a smartphone.
  2. We also think that in order for your connected home to be called a smart home, it needs to start suggesting and doing things for you, not just doing what you say.

So what is the plan?

Well to start, we want to focus on the major parts of what we think this experience is. Which on the high level is going to include: location and mode management, rules, as well as artificial intelligence. Many of these features rely on each other, so you may see some of these things getting built out together. Other features will need to be pretty solid before we go to the next. For instance, in order to have anything meaningful happen with modes, we will need to incorporate some kick ass rule management features.

What about integrations?

Hopefully you know by now that we are very serious about integrations, but we also know there are a number of problems with how this works today. Unfortunately, many hardware providers do not provide a public api, and/or they are not really willing to expose their entire product feature set. Our beta has started with a majority of what Wink offers through their api, and this may be where we stay while we work out the kinks of this process. Just know that we are thinking about providing you with the best experience we can. All this really means for now is that we will be working extra hard to garner superb partnerships with hardware providers.

In the meantime… come check out our Aegis Platform beta at https://beta.getaegis.com