Kristian Glass - Do I Smell Burning?

Mostly technical things

Building a Smart Home: My User Stories

I want to augment my home with technology.

I can go out and buy commodity kit, except that mostly seems to consist of WiFi-connected lightbulbs that will DDoS the neighbours, and other tech that displays a woeful lack of security and/or interoperability.

I can plug in timer sockets before going on holiday then remove them on return, but that’s not especially convenient. I can buy plenty of “remote control power sockets” but they’re often controlled by unsecured broadcast radio that anyone could emit.

Fortunately in 2017 there’s plenty of available kit for me to DIY something better.

On that basis, here are some of my user stories for augmenting my home. They’re not necessarily novel or hard, but represent achievable things that will provide concrete improvements.

Suggestions of your own? Let me know!

For my home I want…


…lights to flash if I’m in the study when the doorbell is pressed, because sometimes I don’t hear it because I’m listening to music

…a time stamped photo of anyone pressing the doorbell because sometimes I’ve had deliveries claim to have been attempted, and I’m not convinced

…an intercom system in the doorbell linked to my phone so I can talk with any couriers who turn up while I’m out

…to know the open/closed state of external doors because I keep leaving the house and then getting paranoid that I left the front door open


…to track the temperature in my bedroom because I suspect it affects my sleep quality


…to be able to generate lights/noise indoors reminiscent of human activity while I’m away so the house still looks occupied

…automated blinds/curtain control so I can simulate activity while I’m away from the house and ensure our plants still get some light


…to be able to turn off lights from bed, for those moments when I get into bed, turn my bedside lamp off ready to sleep, and realise I accidentally left a light on downstairs

…to know the light level, occupancy and if the window’s open in a room, so I don’t accidentally leave the study window open when it gets dark and find that an army of moths has invaded

…more centralised control of lights in a room because my wife loves side lamps and I don’t want to have to go round the room switching them on/off individually


…a centralised abstracted event hub for connecting sensor/actor devices together, so I can separate “automation logic” from “interfacing code” - even better if the interfacing code is done for me!

…some kind of zero-config UI that provides an automatic basic control interface with no effort, so that I can just add a new device and immediately get some basic value from it (which I may then enhance later), rather than having new devices be useless until I do a bunch of work