State of smart homes in 2023

I purchased my Samsung Smartthings hub in August of 2016. I began to move to Hubitat July of 2019. This week a few thoughts crossed my mind and I am curious how others feel. I recalled back in the beginning of my smart home days searching for devices that could integrate into my home and finding that there were a fair number of manufacturers making smart home devices. When something came around that I could not get integrated into Smartthings it was the end of the line. Either I could write a driver for a device to work (out of my skill set) or wait for someone to do it for the community. Waiting often meant disappointment over time. At the same time I found purchasing devices made by Samsung or Hue or someone making the integration was my smoothest path. I had lots of Arlo, Hue, Samsung.

As my device list grew and grew I found the walled gardens began to encroach. Companies like Arlo burned me over and over and I found ecosystems supported the latest and greatest devices each year. Over time the methods to bridge the ecosystems came into my life i.e. Homebridge and Hub Connect.

These days I seem to rarely find a device with any smart capability be it an air filter with WiFi, Levoit humidifier or Eufy security camera system that CANNOT be made to work with my home. Yes, in some cases ie Eufy or Levoit I had to step out of my local only setup for control. But versus previous times I can get these device to work for me and automate them in some fashion be it through Homebridge, Homekit or Hubitat.

This leaves me wondering if others feel that we have reached a zenith for smart homes or perhaps we have just built enough bridges into the walled gardens to make device support easier for us? Price means less to me personally and I must admit I am willing to pay a bit more for the "smart" version when buying products. But often there is a choice between a "dumb" version and a "smart" version.

The tools that I have available are easy to configure, cheap and have whole communities behind them. They allow for more possibility then I can take advantage of. Homebridge for instance was seemingly less supported back in 2019 but now can run apps for tons of products and their ecosystems. Heck I can run Homebridge on everything from a Raspberry Pi to a NAS in a Docker container. Plugs and switches are as easy as replacing my current home hardware to provide control.

Smart homes are intensely personal and we all have different goals, budgets and needs. I personally would prefer to have options and not have to bridge the walled gardens. But at the same time I am very satisfied with my system, how well it works and how easily I can manage it.

How about you?

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I'd say your feel of the industry pulse is more or less accurate, as evidenced by the recent emergence of Thread/Matter protocols, whose stated goal is to unite disparate ecosystems. Perhaps by this time next year, as new hardware/firmware follows suit, we will have begun putting those "bad old days" of walled gardens behind us?

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I'm not holding my breath.


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