What Is API?

The application programming interface is the way devices communicate within a smart home. A device that communicates with an open API is able to communicate and transmit data within a smart home in a deep way. While devices with a closed or partial closed API may not be able to communicate much at all. For example; a Nest Hello video doorbell cannot transmit an IP video stream to a viewing device or app that is not developed by Nest or one of their partners while an open API network camera or smart doorbell such as Doorbird can be viewed on any device or app that can see a live feed of a motion JPEG stream over the local network.

Understanding How Your Smart Home Operates

Smart Homes, much like the human body, operate using a multitude of system languages that work together, communicating about changes or developments as they arise. For the purpose of fully understanding how a high-tech, fully integrated smart home operates, we’ll use this idea of the smart home in comparison with the human body to explore the ways in which complicated systems work together to form one, seamlessly efficient, organism. And please, try to avoid thoughts of a robot home taking over the world for now. We’ll cover potential risks later but, spoiler alert, smart homes ruling the world didn’t make our top list of security concerns. 

How The Message Gets Delivered

Now, back to our analogy. Just as the brain is the control center for our bodies, the processor, or hub as its more commonly referred to, is the control center of todays smart home. It’s through the hub that digital messages are filtered and applied to complete the desired tasks within the home system. These digital messages come in the form of different control and two-way feedback languages such as serial commands (RS232/RS485), proprietary radio frequencies, z-wave, infrared, or WiFi.https://www.youtube.com/embed/vhzLYmiwNTk?wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1

What is Z-wave? | Home Automation for Beginners

However, the way that those languages are deciphered and interpreted relies entirely on whether or not the smart home device has an open or closed API. With an open architecture system control processor, our home is multi-lingual and is able to automatically understand many different device languages to carry out tasks and activities.

Dealing With Closed API

When you’re dealing a closed API system, you’re pretty much locked out. Imagine your brain not being able to control or feel your legs because your brain is not allowed access to them and the commands and feedback needed to control them or what if you could control your legs but not your toes? Our brains need access to every feature of our body to control and respond efficiently. For example, with an open API video streaming device, you would have singular button within your control software that takes you straight to Netflix. You can hit that button on a list of numerous specific controls and because your processor is can communicate in a deep way, it can access Netflix specifically and directly within the device all on its own from a single command. Comparatively, in a partially closed API video streaming device, you may have limited control that only allows basic navigation to find Netflix on a menu and select it manually once you have searched for that feature.

How Are Closed API’s Different?

Perhaps the most common snafu that closed API brings up occur when dealing with brands like Apple, Google, and Amazon home products. When you purchase Google Home, you get a list of compatible products: A voice assistant manager, Hue Lights, Google Chromecast, etc. These are listed as the limited products you can use within that closed API control system because they are all speaking the same approved language transmitted and stored by a proprietary cloud owned and managed by the manufacturer and its partners. Its a partnership that is only being opened up to specific people because it’s money, data and brand-driven. Even if you are loyal to one specific technology brand, the drawback is that even within one brand, things will change over time. Companies roll out updated versions of products and your needs and wants as a homeowner shift as time passes. Ten years from now the list of the devices that are going to work with Google Home or work with Nest, for example, could have limited connectivity or stop working altogether. 

ezgif.com-video-to-gif.gif

The Benefits Of An Open API

Using products with open API has long lasting benefits to the smart home as a whole. Because it is able to process specific tasks across multiple devices (in a deep way), it gives the homeowner the freedom and flexibility to install incredibly specific commands. Dialed in scheduled automations based on status are what we call IFTTT scenes, or “If This Then That”. So if the door is closed and it’s after 8pm then lock the door, turn on the porch lights and activate the security system. It doesn’t matter that the door locks and security system are totally different device languages. They are all open API and can communicate and respond as one system. Smarter Homes of Austin recommends brands that are committed to open architecture: Sonos, Denon, Samsung LG, Ecobee, Lutron, Vantage, etc. are all examples of forward thinking companies that see benefits in cross language control and communication

Speaking And Communicating

So, now that we understand the benefits of our home speaking and communicating product feedback via an open API, let’s dive into the possibilities that having a smart home can afford us. When your home is able to communicate with anything z-wave, you can automate pretty much anything. And just like as your body sweats to cool off when it’s hot or lowers your heart rate to conserve energy when you sleep, automatic responses in a home are incredibly efficient. 

Activity Schedules And Open API Occupancy Sensors

Using activity-based schedules and occupancy sensors, you can turn your home into an energy-saving machine. If everyone heads out of the house by 8 am, then your home can operate on a schedule with you, turning off lights, outlets, and the water heater when no one is home. Further than that, occupancy sensors can cut down on wasted resources in empty parts of your home. If no one is upstairs then we can save energy by telling our HVAC not to pump cold air into that area.

Open API Energy Control And Metering

We applied our energy efficiency model to the home of Smarter Homes owner, Peter Sandford, creating weekday and weekend schedules in his home that matched up to the kid’s school schedule and their home occupancy patterns. We then gathered energy use data from Austin energy and compared the home’s use before automation to after and the results were staggering.

The Smarter Homes  Energy Monitoring Efficiency  Usage Graph
The Smarter Homes Energy Monitoring Efficiency Usage Graph
https://youtube.com/watch?v=kFklz9bC0yc%3Fwmode%3Dopaque%26enablejsapi%3D1

The Feedback Element

When everything is talking to the hub at once, you constantly have instant feedback about the status of your home: which lights are on, what’s been left open, what the A.C. is set to, etc. That means even when you’re outside of the automation schedules, you can keep an eye on anything they may have been forgotten. The whole idea is to cut down on opportunities for human error.

Organizing The Control Interface

Feedback becomes even more streamlined when you get into the organization of your control interface. By categorizing sub-systems, everything you need is in a succinct location. For instance, on your security tab, you can access security camera footage, gain feedback of lock, gate and garage status, and control all of those systems with a simple touch. That’s an open API for you. Meanwhile, in a closed API system, decisions on when to gather camera footage are pre-determined only when motion is detected. Or you’re going into separate apps to control each individual system of your home based on location or specific sub-system. It’s the equivalent of having to take you your temperature to figure out you’re hot and then, for some reason, using a separate app or page to activate your sweat glands. Okay, maybe our body analogy is exhausting a bit but, you get the idea. 

What Is IFTTT?

When your architecture is open, the door of possibility follows suit. Let’s take the claim that it’s life-changing one step further and boldly assert that home automation can be life-saving. Just say you have a mother-in-law that’s staying in the guest suite and there’s a medicine cabinet inside of her bathroom where she keeps her medicine. You could IFTTT the programming within her suite where if Mom’s medicine cabinet does not open by 11 a.m., please send me a text message so that I can remind Mom to take her medication. Or maybe this – okay, the locks were just unlocked. I set a flag to notify me if the locks are armed between these times now. I know through this text message that my kids are home from school safely, and I don’t have to call them or check on them to see if they got home from school on time.

Optimized-remote-control-smarter-homes.png
SECURE SMART HOME DEVICES WITH A MANAGED NETWORK GATEWAY.Smart home technology keeps the hackers at bay.

Companies With Open API Products Are Forward Thinking

Especially when you consider that closed API systems often choose their partnered technology brands based on profit and partnership to share sellable data. We’re also seeing these types of failed partnerships play out in real-time between companies like Disney and Netflix, Disney is going to start up their own app and as a result, Netflix is going to lose all Disney content. But Disney is happy to create this competition in the name of profit. But as the user, we now have two apps where we used to have one. And those are dissolving partnerships that happen over time in every avenue of the technology industry.

Privatizing Your Network

Open API is the solution to the problem of unified control and feedback of the ever-increasing list of smart home features and options. But what about hacking and privacy within this hyper-connected tech home? That’s where the robo-home taking over the world comes in. As we mentioned in our security blog, having an increased number of devices on the home network absolutely means that you have an increased number of ways to be hacked. The key is to manage and secure your network and devices within it in as many ways as possible. We do this by building you your own, managed network with a security gateway at its core. It’s also never a bad idea to own an open API based “non-cloud controlled system that doesn’t offer free data and information to manufactures who will eventually see a temptation in selling it for added profit.

texas-home_smarter-homes-austin.png
Luxury, Style and Curb AppealThe way your home looks and feels outside is important. We spruce up exteriors with accent lighting that also provides security. We also provide unbelievable outdoor sound and many other smart incredible features to help you better enjoy your homes outdoor areas.

Savvy homeowners know how to take steps to make their homes stand out from the crowd. Why settle for an ordinary home when you can elevate your house to something extraordinary in your neighborhood? Here are three ways that you can make your home stand out from all the others around it.

Make It A Smart Home

The latest trend in home innovation is to include smart features that contribute to the overall quality of your house. There are several smart features that you can install to make your home stand out. Solar panels offer many benefits that will increase the value of your home over time. Sometimes you can even get features that let you monitor and control the energy usage in your home. Other smart features to consider adding to your home include an energy-saving thermostat, a video doorbell, and smart lighting. These innovative gadgets automate many home processes for a more convenient and comfortable lifestyle.

Optimized-framed-house_smarter-homes-austin_Texas.png
PREWIRE NEW BUILDING & RETROFIT FOR EXISTING HOMESWhen you’re planning to build, prewire installation gives you every smart feature you plan for. Retrofitting an existing home gives you many smart home features.
Optimized-energy-monitoring-smart-meter_smarter-homes-austin_Texas.jpg

Give It A Custom Design

One way to make your home stand apart is to infuse it with a custom design that differentiates it from others in your area. Regardless of whether you are building your home or merely undergoing a renovation, using different types of materials and styles will give your residence a unique spin. Think outside the box when choosing your overall style and specific materials for a look that is uniquely yours. If you have a homeowners association, be sure to check with it before making drastic changes to the exterior of your house.

Optimized-home-exterior_smarter-homes_austin-texas.png
LUXURIOUS AND CONVENTIEN HOME EXTERIORSBring the beauty of lighting and sound to the outside of your home. Lighting provides added security and curb appeal and outdoor sound is great for any occasion.

Add A Focal Feature

An easy way to make your home distinctive without breaking the bank is to choose just one focal point to concentrate on and highlight that feature. If you are looking to make the exterior of your home stand out, consider adding a unique tree or water feature to your front yard. If you want to make the interior of your house a special place, you can add an element such as a beautifully crafted fireplace or opt for a creative paint scheme. Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone when brainstorming ways that you can use a single focal feature to draw attention to your home.

You can make your residence the envy of the neighbors by turning it into the most distinguished house on the block. With a little creativity, it is easy to transform your home into the perfect reflection of your personality and sense of style.

Learn more here about what we can do to automate your home and make it stand out!

API And The Way It Relates To The Smart Home

What Is API?

The application programming interface is the way devices communicate within a smart home. A device that communicates with an open API is able to communicate and transmit data within a smart home in a deep way. While devices with a closed or partial closed API may not be able to communicate much at all. For example; a Nest Hello video doorbell cannot transmit an IP video stream to a viewing device or app that is not developed by Nest or one of their partners while an open API network camera or smart doorbell such as Doorbird can be viewed on any device or app that can see a live feed of a motion JPEG stream over the local network.

Understanding How Your Smart Home Operates

Smart Homes, much like the human body, operate using a multitude of system languages that work together, communicating about changes or developments as they arise. For the purpose of fully understanding how a high-tech, fully integrated smart home operates, we’ll use this idea of the smart home in comparison with the human body to explore the ways in which complicated systems work together to form one, seamlessly efficient, organism. And please, try to avoid thoughts of a robot home taking over the world for now. We’ll cover potential risks later but, spoiler alert, smart homes ruling the world didn’t make our top list of security concerns. 

How The Message Gets Delivered

Now, back to our analogy. Just as the brain is the control center for our bodies, the processor, or hub as its more commonly referred to, is the control center of todays smart home. It’s through the hub that digital messages are filtered and applied to complete the desired tasks within the home system. These digital messages come in the form of different control and two-way feedback languages such as serial commands (RS232/RS485), proprietary radio frequencies, z-wave, infrared, or WiFi.

What is Z-wave? | Home Automation for Beginners

However, the way that those languages are deciphered and interpreted relies entirely on whether or not the smart home device has an open or closed API. With an open architecture system control processor, our home is multi-lingual and is able to automatically understand many different device languages to carry out tasks and activities.

Dealing With Closed API

When you’re dealing a closed API system, you’re pretty much locked out. Imagine your brain not being able to control or feel your legs because your brain is not allowed access to them and the commands and feedback needed to control them or what if you could control your legs but not your toes? Our brains need access to every feature of our body to control and respond efficiently. For example, with an open API video streaming device, you would have singular button within your control software that takes you straight to Netflix. You can hit that button on a list of numerous specific controls and because your processor is can communicate in a deep way, it can access Netflix specifically and directly within the device all on its own from a single command. Comparatively, in a partially closed API video streaming device, you may have limited control that only allows basic navigation to find Netflix on a menu and select it manually once you have searched for that feature.

How Are Closed API’s Different?

Perhaps the most common snafu that closed API brings up occur when dealing with brands like Apple, Google, and Amazon home products. When you purchase Google Home, you get a list of compatible products: A voice assistant manager, Hue Lights, Google Chromecast, etc. These are listed as the limited products you can use within that closed API control system because they are all speaking the same approved language transmitted and stored by a proprietary cloud owned and managed by the manufacturer and its partners. Its a partnership that is only being opened up to specific people because it’s money, data and brand-driven. Even if you are loyal to one specific technology brand, the drawback is that even within one brand, things will change over time. Companies roll out updated versions of products and your needs and wants as a homeowner shift as time passes. Ten years from now the list of the devices that are going to work with Google Home or work with Nest, for example, could have limited connectivity or stop working altogether. 

ezgif.com-video-to-gif.gif

The Benefits Of An Open API

Using products with open API has long lasting benefits to the smart home as a whole. Because it is able to process specific tasks across multiple devices (in a deep way), it gives the homeowner the freedom and flexibility to install incredibly specific commands. Dialed in scheduled automations based on status are what we call IFTTT scenes, or “If This Then That”. So if the door is closed and it’s after 8pm then lock the door, turn on the porch lights and activate the security system. It doesn’t matter that the door locks and security system are totally different device languages. They are all open API and can communicate and respond as one system. Smarter Homes of Austin recommends brands that are committed to open architecture: Sonos, Denon, Samsung LG, Ecobee, Lutron, Vantage, etc. are all examples of forward thinking companies that see benefits in cross language control and communication

Speaking And Communicating

So, now that we understand the benefits of our home speaking and communicating product feedback via an open API, let’s dive into the possibilities that having a smart home can afford us. When your home is able to communicate with anything z-wave, you can automate pretty much anything. And just like as your body sweats to cool off when it’s hot or lowers your heart rate to conserve energy when you sleep, automatic responses in a home are incredibly efficient. 

Activity Schedules And Open API Occupancy Sensors

Using activity-based schedules and occupancy sensors, you can turn your home into an energy-saving machine. If everyone heads out of the house by 8 am, then your home can operate on a schedule with you, turning off lights, outlets, and the water heater when no one is home. Further than that, occupancy sensors can cut down on wasted resources in empty parts of your home. If no one is upstairs then we can save energy by telling our HVAC not to pump cold air into that area.

Open API Energy Control And Metering

We applied our energy efficiency model to the home of Smarter Homes owner, Peter Sandford, creating weekday and weekend schedules in his home that matched up to the kid’s school schedule and their home occupancy patterns. We then gathered energy use data from Austin energy and compared the home’s use before automation to after and the results were staggering.

The Smarter Homes  Energy Monitoring Efficiency  Usage Graph
The Smarter Homes Energy Monitoring Efficiency Usage Graph

The Feedback Element

When everything is talking to the hub at once, you constantly have instant feedback about the status of your home: which lights are on, what’s been left open, what the A.C. is set to, etc. That means even when you’re outside of the automation schedules, you can keep an eye on anything they may have been forgotten. The whole idea is to cut down on opportunities for human error.

Organizing The Control Interface

Feedback becomes even more streamlined when you get into the organization of your control interface. By categorizing sub-systems, everything you need is in a succinct location. For instance, on your security tab, you can access security camera footage, gain feedback of lock, gate and garage status, and control all of those systems with a simple touch. That’s an open API for you. Meanwhile, in a closed API system, decisions on when to gather camera footage are pre-determined only when motion is detected. Or you’re going into separate apps to control each individual system of your home based on location or specific sub-system. It’s the equivalent of having to take you your temperature to figure out you’re hot and then, for some reason, using a separate app or page to activate your sweat glands. Okay, maybe our body analogy is exhausting a bit but, you get the idea. 

What Is IFTTT?

When your architecture is open, the door of possibility follows suit. Let’s take the claim that it’s life-changing one step further and boldly assert that home automation can be life-saving. Just say you have a mother-in-law that’s staying in the guest suite and there’s a medicine cabinet inside of her bathroom where she keeps her medicine. You could IFTTT the programming within her suite where if Mom’s medicine cabinet does not open by 11 a.m., please send me a text message so that I can remind Mom to take her medication. Or maybe this – okay, the locks were just unlocked. I set a flag to notify me if the locks are armed between these times now. I know through this text message that my kids are home from school safely, and I don’t have to call them or check on them to see if they got home from school on time.

Optimized-remote-control-smarter-homes.png
SECURE SMART HOME DEVICES WITH A MANAGED NETWORK GATEWAY.Smart home technology keeps the hackers at bay.

Companies With Open API Products Are Forward Thinking

Especially when you consider that closed API systems often choose their partnered technology brands based on profit and partnership to share sellable data. We’re also seeing these types of failed partnerships play out in real-time between companies like Disney and Netflix, Disney is going to start up their own app and as a result, Netflix is going to lose all Disney content. But Disney is happy to create this competition in the name of profit. But as the user, we now have two apps where we used to have one. And those are dissolving partnerships that happen over time in every avenue of the technology industry.

Privatizing Your Network

Open API is the solution to the problem of unified control and feedback of the ever-increasing list of smart home features and options. But what about hacking and privacy within this hyper-connected tech home? That’s where the robo-home taking over the world comes in. As we mentioned in our security blog, having an increased number of devices on the home network absolutely means that you have an increased number of ways to be hacked. The key is to manage and secure your network and devices within it in as many ways as possible. We do this by building you your own, managed network with a security gateway at its core. It’s also never a bad idea to own an open API based “non-cloud controlled system that doesn’t offer free data and information to manufactures who will eventually see a temptation in selling it for added profit.

A big move to a new city can be stressful: relocating all of your things, dealing with movers, timing out your new home’s completion with your arrival, and trying to make that new house really feel like home are just a few of the headaches coming your way. But there’s a lot to be excited about too. We’re here to help you find that silver lining.

Smarter Homes is a company centered around convenience, ease, luxury, and service. We take human error out of any technology-based equation. Today we’d like to bring some ease to you, the new homeowner in a new city, and welcome you to the ATX! You’re going to love it – here are a few reasons why.

Austin is the perfect combination of natural and manmade…

When you take a look at the environment of the city, it is a beautiful amalgamation of technology and innovation with mother earth’s beauty. Lady Bird Lake wraps around the southern edge of downtown. The Zilker trails take you from the heart of the business sector to a natural swimming home – Barton Springs. As much as the city has developed, even within the past year, we have always preserved the elements of geography that make Austin so special, with parks, kayaking docks, abundant foliage, and plenty of wildlife at every turn. Here are some ways to embrace both nature within the city:

No matter what you like, there’s plenty to eat…

Austin cuisine is famous for a lot of things. To list a few – BBQ, tacos, food trucks, ramen, beautiful brunches, fine dining, sushi, locally sourced organics, farm to table, vegan/vegetarian eateries, and more. There are options to satisfy every palette but what’s so exciting about the Austin food scene is that it is ever growing, ever changing, ever pushing the envelope. Entrepreneurs in the culinary world have so many options for success in this city and theirs paths to that destination are fascinating. From humble east-side food trucks, to multiple brick and mortar locations around town, you’ll have as much fun watching trends eb and flow as you will eating your way around town. Here are a few foodie guides to get you started:

There’s always something to do in the live music capital…

Being the live music capital of the world has transformed Austin into a vibrant artist’s haven. Between concerts, museums, galleries, art shows, fundraisers, sporting events, and meet-ups, there is constantly a community-driven event going on. It’s really easy to get involved with the city and find a niche group of people that care about your passion. Here are a few ways to keep up with what’s going on make plans at the drop of hat:

We hope that the excitement about everything our city has to offer surpasses the stresses of your home’s construction, renovation, upgrade, or move-in. Keep us in mind as you being to plan, construct, or settle into your new project. We understand your home’s wires and make life with technology just as harmonious as you’re soon to be in the beautiful city.

Check out our website for offers, testimonials, and pricing: www.SmarterHomesAustin.com

Give us a call, day or night, with your questions: (512)775-6101

Welcome to the city and we can’t wait to work with you!

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Smarter Homes Austin
Austin’s Certified Luxury Home Automation, Home Theater, Audio Video & Wi-Fi Experts

CREATE YOUR SMART HOME BUDGET

*The calculated home technology budget range you will receive will includes parts, labor & accessories (Tax not included)
(a round number is OK)
Numerous structures on the property: Dock, Casita, Guest House, Barn, Gate etc. Check all that apply.
Prewire installation calculations assume you would like your home fully wired for ALL home automation technologies shown throughout the budget calculator, including 'future-ready' wiring. Prewire pricing can vary substantially based on what features you would like in your home. The wiring budget is for low-voltage wiring, not for electrical.
Prewire pricing will vary based on exactly what features you would like in your home. Read this article about the importance of wiring/cabling in today's "wireless" world. Your local Smarter Homes integrator is the best resource for exact prewire pricing. Wiring budget is for low-voltage wiring only, not electrical.
Keep in mind that our modern lifestyle and our home's automation technology systems are extremely reliant on a quality network and Wi-Fi system. Most homes are moving towards enterprise-grade hardware and away from the types of network products you could buy in an office supply store or a consumer computer store. We recommend that all homeowners consider the network and Wi-Fi system to be the most important system and installation within the home.
Higher-quality sound or higher-grade architectural finished speakers can range from $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 PER ROOM
Basic background music system pricing ranges from $1,500.00 to $5,000.00 per room including all equipment, labor, and programming.
Range includes video sources such as AppleTV, a Blu-ray player, satellite receiver, and remotely-locating them for best aesthetics. A basic soundbar is included for better audio.
This is called “video distribution” and reduces the amount of audio/video equipment located at each TV location/room.
A surround sound system creates an immersive sound experience, much like a dedicated home theater room, though in a dual-purpose room such as a Family Room, Master Bedroom, etc. If you would like more than one surround system location, click on the "Add Another Surround System" button below
Typically, homeowners want to see the following areas: front of house, front door, driveway / gate, sides of house, and pool. If you are more concerned about security, you may want to add cameras for the perimeter of your property. Good-quality cameras see about 75 feet of distance on average. The high range of the budget estimate includes higher resolution cameras, better night vision, and longer surveillance recording time.
The installation of a lighting control system reduces wall clutter, allows preset lighting scenes at the push of a button, increases security through programming automation, and adds convenience.
Motorized shades add beauty, convenience, address privacy concerns, and can be used to save energy. If desired, provide your best guess on how many windows/shades you want to motorize. The higher-end of the budget range includes higher-end fabrics, large windows, and dual-roller shades (both sheer and privacy shades on one window).
For example, a house music app, an app to operate your TV, an app for lighting automation, an app for locks, an app for cameras, an app to open close garage doors & gates, etc. Or do you want to control the entire house through a single unified app that controls all the automation systems within the home?
Make your home feel larger by balancing the light between indoor and outdoor areas.
Smarter Homes Austin
Austin’s Certified Luxury Home Automation, Home Theater, Audio Video & Wi-Fi Experts

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