New Vera app - input please

Hi guys,

I’ve been a Vera user for about a year and I’m looking to build a new app. I love the potential that home automation brings, but it seems things can get very complicated.

I want the app to have better design appeal and be really easy to use. Even something that less technical people could work with (high WAF).

I could really use some input on what this should look like. What features do you think would make sense?

You guys are the experts, and it would be very helpful to hear from you.

Try a new approach.
it may be pretty hard to implement but I feel the best way to see your home and what it is doing is to see a 2D top down image or layout of your home. Maybe something you could draw, or import an image.
Then being able to put icons where the doors, windows, motions, thermostats and everything else is. Of course, if there are multiple levels, you would have to switch between them.
The old icon, list view is very old and worn out.
Imperihome is a great way to do it also, but it lacks one thing. Being able to see your whole home in one image.
My 2 cents.
Good luck. I would be glad to help further. Just ask.

Thanks for the info. I like the approach you’re suggesting and Imperihome looks pretty good. I hadn’t heard of it before.

Another app I like is the Savant app (high-end home automation company):

I don’t think it has a whole home view either, but it looks great and is very intuitive. We’ve all invested quite a bit of money in devices, so I think creating a better user experience will really add value.

I agree.

Everyone’s needs are different, but for non-technical individuals I found a room type organization structure very easy for them to pick up. For Android I suggest you look at AuTHomation which does it just about perfectly. For iOS look at VeraMate.

I would also like to see a home layout picture option. The user could import a .jpg that they create via other means and the app could simply allow icons to be placed via drag and drop.

I’m certainly no developer but I am willing to help test on either iOS (my primary use) or on Android which I access to.

I also use Imperihome for Andriod and Homewave for ios.

Imperihome I only use in dashboard mode and make a page for each room with a return button in the bottom corner to go back to mast home page. So everything is a click away for the wife.

I also control 3 houses or veras from this one app. Also have my cameras not in vera but direct streaming in imperihome as imperihome does alot more then just vera.

Agree with the floorplan style view, although i fear that you’d need a pretty large tablet for it to not look too cluttered with icons, especially if you have a lot of function/devices on that floor. Maybe a quick filter that shows different types (lights/thermos/AV, etc.) would help.

I like the look of the Savant app. As others have said, you can get really close to this with Imperihome, especially if you want to use your own pictures as background (pretty easy). About the one thing they are STILL missing (for me) is Sonos control.

I find the dashboard view can make for a very powerful and easy to navigate tool in Imperihome.
Certainly gets past the WAF part.

The fact you can also use vera to change pages on Imperi (ie if the doorbell rings Vera tells Imperi to flip to your security page so you see the front door camera straight away) is great for hands off automation.

I love the idea of a top down, or even 3d map of your home, this would be great for showing which motion sensor is active, of for displaying room temps.

check out MyVera
https://sbdomotique.wordpress.com/category/myvera/

its got the ability to add home layouts including 2D renderings plus has various plugins as well like sonos. I think its perfect for putting on a wall tablet!

The Savant app gave me an important insight. I’m actually not too impressed with that app; it is undeniably pretty but I find the navigation a bit too “clicky”, with stuff spread out over too many screens. However many people seem to like it.

And that’s the rub: what we as “z-wave administrators” might find cumbersome or incomplete is seen by end users as friendly. Conversely, our convenient dashboards and complex interfaces scare off regular people.

If you’re aiming for WAF, this is my experience:

  1. Definitely organise stuff by room, with maybe a house dashboard showing the most important things (doors locked, heating off, don’t be tempted to add to much else)
  2. Make liberal use of scenes. I have 8 lights in the living room and I definitely do not expose them individually on my wife’s phone. Instead, I set up 5 scenes or so with light recipes she likes, and added 1 dimmer to adjust the main light level if she wants to. This makes for a much cleaner interface
  3. In your app, you don’t have to go for an interface that mirrors the room layout, in fact if you mostly use scenes such a layout makes little sense and adds unnecessary clutter. You can even get away with a simple list view of devices and scenes, provided that you can filter to show only the relevant stuff, and have an option to rename each item to something that makes sense to others
  4. For better WAF, use more screens with fewer but larger controls, rather than fewer screens with tons of tiny buttons.

I designed HomeWave with a very flexible interface to cater to tinkerers as well as their wives :slight_smile: The downside is that building the interface in HomeWave can be time-consuming. A simple, automatic list or grid view with some customization and option to filter out unwanted devices might fill a gap, though there’s already a few other apps out there that do this. You may want to check them out.

You could build something like the Savant app for some (much needed) wow factor, but in that case I would definitely make sure that the app looks stunning right out of the box. Allow customization, but set defaults and provide artwork that already looks great without any effort on part of the user. That’s what I neglected to do with HomeWave :slight_smile: I’ll get around to that one day…

Anyway, that’s my 2 cents.

Indeed a map of the house would look cool but in practice would not increase the WAF too much, lights are much more WAF friendly if grouped and controlled by scenes.
What would be cool though is scenes initiated by images, so an image of the living room in warm dimmed candle light with blinds closed, which starts a scene on click, or a scene with a movie theater atmosphere which turns on the tv, dims all lights and starts your home cinema when clicked? Would definately increase the WAF 8)

Just my 2 cents…

[quote=“Pietor, post:11, topic:190606”]Indeed a map of the house would look cool but in practice would not increase the WAF too much, lights are much more WAF friendly if grouped and controlled by scenes.
What would be cool though is scenes initiated by images, so an image of the living room in warm dimmed candle light with blinds closed, which starts a scene on click, or a scene with a movie theater atmosphere which turns on the tv, dims all lights and starts your home cinema when clicked? Would definately increase the WAF 8)

Just my 2 cents…[/quote]

This is exactly what I did in ImperiHome. Took different pictures of the same room to indicate the various scene choices, etc. Or sometimes a bit more “artistic”… I use a picture of two of our coffee cups to indicate the morning wakeup scene, etc.

Thanks for all the great suggestions and the offer to help test. Will definitely take you up on it when the time comes.

Some of the underlying ideas are similar - a wholistic view of the home with a focus on visuals. The floor plan concept
has a lot in common with the room-based approach. I think there might be a way to combine the two together - maybe not use a traditional floor plan but allow the room images to be arranged (dashboard grid concept) in a way that’s similar to your home’s layout. Just thinking out load right now…

[quote=“sceneflow, post:13, topic:190606”]Thanks for all the great suggestions and the offer to help test. Will definitely take you up on it when the time comes.

Some of the underlying ideas are similar - a wholistic view of the home with a focus on visuals. The floor plan concept
has a lot in common with the room-based approach. I think there might be a way to combine the two together - maybe not use a traditional floor plan but allow the room images to be arranged (dashboard grid concept) in a way that’s similar to your home’s layout. Just thinking out load right now…[/quote]

Depends on the size of the house, tablet, and how many devices you have. I liked the floor plan layout idea, but 90% of any control is from a phone not a tablet (phone always on me home or away, tablet on a table or wall mounted in one location) and I have way to many devices that it just became to much crammed into one screen (I have Note 5 and the screen is not small for a phone). But if you talking about a central mounted 10" plus tablet then it might work.

[quote=“integlikewhoa, post:14, topic:190606”][quote=“sceneflow, post:13, topic:190606”]Thanks for all the great suggestions and the offer to help test. Will definitely take you up on it when the time comes.

Some of the underlying ideas are similar - a wholistic view of the home with a focus on visuals. The floor plan concept
has a lot in common with the room-based approach. I think there might be a way to combine the two together - maybe not use a traditional floor plan but allow the room images to be arranged (dashboard grid concept) in a way that’s similar to your home’s layout. Just thinking out load right now…[/quote]

Depends on the size of the house, tablet, and how many devices you have. I liked the floor plan layout idea, but 90% of any control is from a phone not a tablet (phone always on me home or away, tablet on a table or wall mounted in one location) and I have way to many devices that it just became to much crammed into one screen (I have Note 5 and the screen is not small for a phone). But if you talking about a central mounted 10" plus tablet then it might work.[/quote]

I think the key to pleasing everyone is to do what everyone wants. Imperihome did it and did it right in my opinion. They include a visual display and a list view. This gives you the option to use it on a small screen and a large one or if you like it one way or the other. Options are always a plus.
My 2 cents on providing a useful visual display is to include a way to pinch to zoom the image. On top of that making sure that the icons shrink as well. Nothing worse than having the image shrink and all you see is a bunch of icons on top of each other.
If it is possible, a 3D image of the home would be great you could rotate and zoom and strip the exterior off of, but I am just dreaming now.

How about an app where users only see certain devices and can read / Control them based on what they have access to?

[quote=“Jamr, post:15, topic:190606”]I think the key to pleasing everyone is to do what everyone wants. Imperihome did it and did it right in my opinion. They include a visual display and a list view. This gives you the option to use it on a small screen and a large one or if you like it one way or the other. Options are always a plus.
My 2 cents on providing a useful visual display is to include a way to pinch to zoom the image. On top of that making sure that the icons shrink as well. Nothing worse than having the image shrink and all you see is a bunch of icons on top of each other.
If it is possible, a 3D image of the home would be great you could rotate and zoom and strip the exterior off of, but I am just dreaming now.[/quote]

I get your point about the icons, but not following re: pinch to zoom. Are you suggesting the zoom for going to a “room details” or “scene details” kind of view?

My thinking was to not allow shrinking a “tile” for a room or scene beyond a certain size because it becomes difficult to view and interact with it. When the user touches one of the icons on the tile, they’ll get the controls for that device.

Very useful - definitely on the list of features

Vera doesn’t have anything in UI that blocks certain devices from certain users. So if you have a kid that you don;t want to open secure room there is not a good solution. Also default VERA doesn’t need even a user or password to access the web UI from the local network. You can turn this off but then you need to rely on the internet and vera’s servers 100% of the time. You won’t be able to change this back if either the internet or their servers are down.

Imperihome has password protection so you can setup a dashboard with the devices you want (leaving out the ones you don’t) then lock it down. But this is not bulletproof, someone smart can install another vera app and login to gain access to everything bypassing what you setup.
Unless they don’t have a VERA user and password (you didn’t share it just setup their phone). This also assumes you have vera locked out for local use.

If your only talking about a semi secure way to prevent your spouse from pushing the wrong buttons or having access to certain virtual devices you don’t want her to see then you will have no problem. It’s really only if you want to be super secure and lock out a smart teenager that can find away around it, then you won’t find a real good solution.

Rather, I have 3 apartments and want them to be able to see their current power consumption, accumulated powerconsumption in kwh per the 1st day in a month, turn on and off power to electrical outlets turning on and off engine-heaters on their cars or charging their EV manually and on Schedule… And ultimatley report to me their monthly consumption on Power =) . That is what I really really want to do. And yes, securely