The case against scenes in automation

Scenes, in automation, are a great way to control your house and set the devices to their ideal state depending on the time of day or what you want to do at your house.

Would you like to watch a movie? Just press the “Movie” scene, and your house will turn off living room lights, turn on the TV, and even prepare some popcorn. This seems pretty cool… in theory:

Although scenes are really easy to use, they still require human action. You still have to tell your home that you want to watch the movie, and your home cannot figure out if you’re at the living room or anywhere else. What happens if you want to watch a movie in your bedroom using your laptop? Then you have to create a separate scene for that!

A better way to have your house automated, would be through an invisible automation, where no human interaction is needed.

Your home, using artificial intelligence, would be capable of recognizing your patterns and respond back in a seamless way, without your interaction. Let’s say you normally shower during the night before you go to bed, and you like to wake up every morning, dress and go downstairs for a coffee.

If you wake up a morning, your home would automatically set the thermostat to 21 degrees (celsius) and turn on your room or closet lights so you can dress. Then ideally it would wait for you to take the next step.

Now you can decide if you want to go to the bathroom or downstairs. Let’s say you decide to go to the bathroom and take a shower, because the previous night you were so tired that you went to bed right away.

Then as soon as you get to the bathroom, your home automation would set the right temperature for you, turn on the bathroom lights and may be play some upbeat music meanwhile you shower.

Then, if you decide to go downstairs, the living room automation would activate and turn on lights and start brewing coffee for you. Nice way to start the day!

Instead, with Scenes, you would have to wake up and manually press a button for your lights to turn on. And hopefully you have prepared a scene for every type of situation, in case you prefer to go to your bathroom right away and not downstairs that morning.

Ideally the automation would be so transparent that you don’t even notice that you have it in your house

One of the things that people hates the most is talking to their houses. This is, in principle, against human logic. Why should I be talking to a machine? I just want the machine to understand my actions and do stuff for me…

So a better way to tackle the home automation process, is to make it so invisible that you don’t even notice is there.

I have my own automation at home working for me this way. Said I leave the house and go to work: I go out of the door, my automation detects I’m leaving and turns off lights and sets the thermostat to “away”.

I jump into my car, my cell gets connected to the bluetooth and right away it opens waze to my work address. Google assistant detects I’m in the car and asks me what type of music I would like to listen while driving.

My house knows I’m away, so it sets the alarm and closes the front door for me.

When I’m finish working, my car detects I’m driving home and google assistant sets home the thermostat to 21°, my commuting is of about 40 minutes, so it is enough time for the thermostat to regulate the temperature so it is exactly at 21 when I get home.

When I get to my home, my thermostat is ready. Because I have different bluetooth speakers for every room and some automated shortcuts on my iPhone so I can turn on lights and do stuff when I get connected to a specific room speaker. So lights will turn on and stuff will happen automatically if I am in a specific room. Same for the rest of my family.

Finally when it is time to sleep, we go upstairs and a shortcut will detect the bluetooth speakers in my room and run an automation to set the temperature to 18° (we like it cold at night).

When my alarm fires in the morning, I have another shortcut that automatically runs as soon as I stop the alarm. Temperature rises to 21° and changes to heat mode with the fan on, so the kids can go to the bathroom and feel the nice warm breeze flowing. (Otherwise we would have to listen to them screaming “dad, it’s cooooold” for about 15 minutes). My news play automatically and my cell opens the twitter app, so when I’m ready to use it I can start reading my feed right away.

We go downstairs and a similar process happens with lights and the coffee maker.

This is just an example of how an invisible automation, controlling all your devices, is way better than creating manual scenes. There is literally nothing to do but enjoy, and our family members don’t have to feel weird saying things like “ok google, can you turn on the lights?” “hey Siri, please do this or that”?

While with scenes you have to manually push a button, with an invisible automation model, you won’t have to even think about anything and everything just happens at the right moment.

I tell you… You truly forget your home is automated.