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The Future is not Phone

June 20, 20234 minute read

When we first started building Piston Home automations and discussing it with interested customers, we were frequently asked how our automated system would work. “Do I need to take my phone out whenever I need to change a scene?”“Will I need to open your app in order to change a light?”“How does the system work with multiple people’s phones?” These are reasonable questions as smart devices and services are now often paired up with a smartphone app. The answer is that your smartphone will never be needed to work with Piston Home. We believe the future is not phone

Smartphone apps have changed everything. They’re perfect for complex social networks (Instagram) and services you use occasionally (taxis – Uber, directions – Google Maps, investments – Robinhood, thermostat – Nest). But they’re not the end-all solution for every smart home situation. If I’m in my kitchen and I need a light on, I’m not going to: (1) unlock my phone, (2) close the last app I was using, (3) open the app for my lights, and then (4) turn it to the brightness I need. I wouldn’t even bother asking Alexa (assuming she even hears me correctly). Instead, I’m just going to walk over to the switch and flip it on. Much easier.  When you are consistently performing an action, such as turning on a light bulb, you need a simpler solution than opening your phone or using your voice. Piston Home largely automates lighting based on presence in a room. When I walk into the kitchen, I don’t even need to think about turning on the light switch. A motion sensor is triggered and the system flips on the light in 30 milliseconds. It turns up the brightness based on the time, sun’s position, and local weather. One of Piston Home’s main features is Scene Lighting. You’re able to turn on any set of lights to the perfect brightness with just one click of a wireless remote. There’s a few reasons we don’t like implementing scenes with a smartphone:

  1. There’s likely more than 1 person who is going to use the scenes in your home. Access to these scenes needs to be universal and simple.
  2. Humans are tactile creatures. We prefer to have something we can touch. It’s the reason why Tesla’s touch center console touchscreen are not preferred to the haptic feedback-based knobs in typical cars:
  3. It takes a long time. By the time you take out your phone, unlock it, load the app, and — well, you may as well just go around and turn on each individual light yourself! 

We made it easy for Piston Homeowners — one click of a physical button. A light, durable, cheap, wireless, long-lasting remote like the Lutron Caseta Pico solves all of these. This remote can be mounted anywhere and its battery will likely outlast the length of time you stay in your house. When you’re tired or in a hurry, the last thing you want to do is step your way through a phone app. Now, this is not to say a smartphone app for your lights is completely useless. With Piston, you will have smartphone access to all of your lights through your phone. This means that if you’re sitting on the beach with a mai tai, you can still open the app and check on your lights. You can also receive alerts on your phone about any water leaks or security issues in the home. Taking your phone out whenever you need to change lights in your home doesn’t sound like the future. We’re here to help your smart home be phone-free!

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