The Launch Review: Cozify Smart Home

May 10, 2016

Smart Home Testing Scenarios

The Kitchen Music Scenario

So back to my setup. I’ve got my rule setup. When the motion detector senses movement, music will start playing. Now to figure out sensor placement… Kim and I start to engage in an elaborate game of “hold the sensor still over there while I move around over here”. As you’d imagine, the sensor is remarkably sensitive and impossible to hold still without anchoring it against a wall etc. It also (obviously) has a field of “view” in which it can detect movement, meaning that if you’re using a single sensor for a room, you’re likely to have some blind spots.

If I were serious about wanting to automate my entire house (and willing to invest a small fortune in the process), I’d probably get myself multiple sensors per room to save myself from having to wave my arm across the room at a sensor because I happen to be standing in one of those blind spots. As it stands, a bit of experimentation later and we’ve got a decent position for the sensor which covers most of the kitchen.

Possible use cases...

This was the first thing I setup so I didn’t really know much about all the functionalities and just dived in and setup a basic rule. It was nice for the evening. It got slightly disconcerting when one of the kids got up in the middle of the night to go into the kitchen to get a drink and the music started blaring out but there we go. When some phone calls came in the next day and we couldn’t pause the music as moving around would instantly turn it on again, we decided it was time for the music to be not such a smart thing and to delete the rule and shift the sensor to the lounge.

Small criticisms here:

  • I still had to have the Sonos app itself installed on the phone and of course it’s not my preferred music app. More on this later.
  • If I have the rule as always on, I can turn it off from the rules screen but then I still need to pause the music to take a call making stopping the music a two step function.
  • If I associate the rule with a scene and give it an automated trigger, I can’t temporarily suspend that automated trigger (for example movement if taking a call).
  • If I have the rule set to always on and you suspend it by tapping it from the rules screen, the rule will no longer be enabled, but if the rule was “in use” (i.e. music was playing) at the time suspended, it will continue playing. Additionally, it will continue playing even if the sensor doesn’t trigger thereafter so you need to manually stop the music. It seems the state engine doesn’t recognise a disable of the rule as an intent to switch the device to the “off” state, perhaps that’s by design, but it seems slightly counterintuitive to me.

The Lounge Lights Scenario

So after my experiment with the sensor in the kitchen, it was time to put the sensor in the lounge. I wanted to do this as my second test because in all likelihood, this is the one which will be permanent and makes sense to me.

Sensor positioned appropriately in the lounge to capture most movement, I setup a new rule. It’s a quick and easy rule which takes less than 30 seconds to setup (including turning on/unlocking the phone and firing up the Cozify app!). I honestly don’t know what to tell you about it other than there is no drama! The lights work as expected. After a couple of times with the lights timing out with the sensor set to turn off after five minutes of no detection I go into the rule and extend it to 10 minutes, and then subsequently to 15. That seems to be the sweet spot for us.

The spots themselves are tuneable directly in the Cozify app from a nice and warm 2703K to a positively chilly bluish tinged 6536K and brightness percentages from 0 – 100, even though 0% is actually not off, just very dim which is slightly odd.

Hmm, what about when I want to watch a movie? No problem, I just need to create a scene right? So into the scenes tab I go, and create a new scene. It’s a simple scene with a device state for lights set to off (not 0%, actually off). I tap my newly created scene button and what do you know! The lights turn off!

As I turn around to call Kim and show her, the lights turn on again. Hmm, wasn’t expecting that. The scene is still active on my scenes screen (highlighted blue). The always on rule of lights turning on when detecting motion must have turned them on again.

More use cases...

After a bit of experimenting, I discover that I can dim the lights in a scene, even set them in the app to 0% brightness (aka very dim) and this will be fine, I can move around all I want and dance the running man in front of the sensor, lights stay dim, but the moment I make the scene turn the lights actually off, the sensor kicks in and overrides the scene and turns the lights on again.

That’s not to say that you can’t get this working. It’s just a bit more cumbersome than initially anticipated. Going to the rules tab and suspend the rule (remember from above, the lights will still be on), then going into the scenes tab and enabling the movie scene to turn the lights off now means I have actually off lights which won’t come on again when they detect movement.

Is this the end of the world? Absolutely not. Is it a small inconvenience? For me, yes. I’m sure there is some way of setting up a combination of rules and scenes and device states which would allow me to get the intended result I was after to begin with, but I’ve yet to find it.

It’s fair to say though, what I’m looking for here are edge cases. Scenarios where the everyday standard rule doesn’t quite do what I need it to. 99.9% of the time, I’m going to be very happy with my lights which turn themselves automatically on and off where I don’t need to worry about forgetting to hit a light switch.

What if I wanted to set these up in my bedroom though? There that becomes a cumbersome workflow every night when I want to go to bed. Turn off rule, set scene, turn rule on again in the morning? Hmm.

I reached out to Cozify to find out what could be done here. Their suggestion is have two scenes, a day lighting scene and night lighting scene using the twilight sensor. Those two scenes go on and off based on timers you setup. Again, this seems perfectly feasible, but to my mind relies on a consistent daily schedule in that case. Maybe your daily schedule is consistent, I have young kids though so mine isn’t particularly.

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