Smart Home Automation Ideas

First off, I love Blynk. I’ve looked at a number of similar apps in the Google app store and this definitely has the most attractive, professional looking widgets. I definitely plan on using this when I am messing around with my Arduinos and Pis.

Unfortunately I don’t think this will work great as a control for my smart home. It’s possible that with more use I’ll be more comfortable with it, but here are my initial thoughts on this:

  1. It only supports a single device per “project”. This is fine when I’m prototyping something, but my family doesn’t care which physical device they are controlling, they just want to close the garage door or turn on a light (or whatever I’ve got hooked up). They don’t want to change screens to do this.

  2. Can’t share screens. The family all have their own devices. I would love to be able to share the screen with any of them. We do have a main controller tablet, but it would be convenient to control stuff from my phone as well.

  3. Connect with SmartThings or other smart home systems. I’ve got SmartThings in the home and Hue Lights and find that I already have to go to different apps to do different things. Not sure what the future holds for smart home systems, but there has got to be money in tying these systems together somehow (if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth much :slight_smile: ). You already have a great start.

If you are interested in fixing any of these issues, here are some ideas…

  1. Instead of having “projects”, have “devices” and “screens”. Setup the devices that you want to be able to connect to, then create 1 or more screens to connect to them. I’m fine with having a default device for a screen for those that are prototyping or want to organize by device, but for those that just want a command and control center for all there devices, let them change the device when setting up the widget. This would allow a single screen to support multiple devices. It would also be nice to be able to move between screens by sliding the current screen out of the way (I keep trying to do this :slight_smile: ).

  2. Not sure if the projects are stored on my device or the cloud (I had to register when installing Blynk, so something must be cloud based). However, if configuration was stored in the cloud, then perhaps a simple share feature would suffice. Sharing should have some type of permission whether to allow editing or not. If each person has their own Blynk account, I could just share with my wife using her email address. She gets an email with a notification that the screen was shared with her and a link to install the app if she doesn’t already have it. Then there should be a screen where you can go to install the screen. If you also do #3, this might also have publicly shared screens for different types of devices.

  3. Nothing simple about integrating with smart home systems, but if you are familiar with SmartThings, then you probably know they can use some help with their UI. Blynk would be a great way for me to control my smart appliances. I would definitely pay money for a good solution to this. The Blynk UI integrating with my Hue light bulbs and SmartThings app would be a killer combination. It doesn’t need to cover everything that SmartThings does, just the simpler things like detecting open doors, turning on/off lights, showing temperature, etc.

I hope you like some of my ideas. If Blynk wasn’t already awesome, I wouldn’t even bother mentioning them, so I hope you don’t think I’m being too critical. I’m also a developer, so I know that we typically hear about all the problems, but rarely hear about things that are great :slight_smile:

Also, I can’t figure out how you are making money on this project. I was expecting to pay money for the app or have in-app purchases, but I didn’t see anything like that. Perhaps you should have a pay version just so people can give you money. Free is nice, but I would prefer to pay money in order to ensure this project is continued. Or just have a “donate” button somewhere on your site using PayPal.

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Thanks for your ideas! We hope that you’ll be delighted with Blynk in future, because most of the points you’ve mentioned are in the development. We should definitely think about adding popular existing Home Automation platforms like Smart Things

  1. You can control more than one device from one screen. You even have 2 options:
  • use Bridge Widget, which actually allows many devices talk to Blynk and exchange data
  • use same Auth Token on all the devices and send commands over Virtual Pins (hope that 32 pins will be enough :slight_smile: )
    Unfortunately, swiping screens may interfere with some widgets, like joystick or slider which will affect the UX significantly. However, we have ideas on how to add multiple screens. Not very soon, but it will be implemented of course.
  1. Sharing is in the active development right now. If you are Android user, you can get a first feel of it. We just introduced a new feature - Project Sharing.
    Sharing Access will look very similar: you generate QR code for every external user you need. They download Blynk, straight from Login - they scan QR code and instantly have an access to your project. Only you can modify the project, others can only control/view data.
    This will be a first paid feature.

  2. You are right, we are looking at a few of these platforms and might consider integrating with them soon

We will implement paid more features of course, we want Blynk to develop further!

Thanks for your feedback, this is super valuable! Please always share what comes up to your mind, because we are building it for people like you.

I’m glad you are looking for ways to improve and monetize your app. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this project evolve over time.