I work at Amazon and I have a couple of Echo devices around. I’ve been very hesitant to invest in “smart home” devices in the past because there just seems to be an overall confusing landscape in terms of devices.

I walked in my front door last week with my hands full, in the dark and decided this might be the time to take a look at what’s out there. It felt like it would have been much easier to say “Alexa, turn on the living room lights” then what I was doing fumbling in the dark. So I decided to look into it more, despite my initial hesitance.

A visit to Home Depot and Lowes left me let down. Now, I’m still annoyed at this mess.

A quick rundown of what I’ve been able to see in terms of connectivity:

  • WiFi
  • ZigBee
  • Z-Wave
  • Bluetooth
  • SmartThings
    • Caséta from Lutron?

I’m sure there are more, as well.

Another hurdle is that every company has their own apps and nonsense to make their devices work. This just seems to be a disaster. I don’t want to start to fumble with my phone, try to remember which app to use to interact with a device. The simple things, like “turn on” and “turn off” seem to be OK with voice, but doing something much more complex seems to be more of a burden.

I came home empty-handed. Visiting Amazon, et. al., didn’t help much.

Everything claims to be awesome… but there are few details to be found on these things. As a consumer, it’s just frustrating. The lack of standards is frankly infuriating. When you went to go buy a standard light bulb you could simply go to the store and buy an Edison-base bulb or a candelabra-base bulb. There were a few specialty bulbs, but nearly everything used one or the other. Now everything is back to being incompatible.

Does anyone have any good advice for this?