What is Synergy & Why is it Important?

Synergy is the interaction of two or more home automation devices that combine and result in a greater effect than they each would on their own.  You have likely heard of the saying – “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.  Home Automation really pays off when devices and apps play well together and this is what you should be striving for when adding devices to your smart home.

Three Steps to Achieve Synergy

  1. Think about the information each smart device collects.  For example, a smart lock for your door may collection the following information:  what time a door is open or closed, who opened and closed the door, whether the door is currently open or closed.  A sensor may be able to determine movement, temperature, sound, or light.  Knowledge is power and by combining this information, you can make your smart home even more powerful.  This leads to the next point.
  2. Think about how you can share that information between devices.  Make connections.  Sharing information between devices doesn’t need to be limited to the official ecosystem or devices that the vendor decides should work together.  You can use a free integration application like IFTTT or Stringify to connect hundreds of devices.  You could also use a smart hub to achieve the same effect.
  3. Think about how you can use that information to empower better decisions and influence workflows.  Be creative.  How can you use the inputs from one device to help make another device smarter.  For example, if the windows are all open, don’t turn on the air conditioning.  If someone isn’t home yet, don’t close the garage door.  If there is someone still at home, don’t automatically turn the lights off when you leave the house.

Real Life Examples of Synergy

  1. A smart lock may seem like it serves only one obvious purpose – it allows you to access your home without a key.  However, when combined with a smart hub or an app like IFTTT, the act of locking or unlocking the door could be one of the signals you use to determine if someone, or even a specific person based on unique door codes, is home or not.
  2. A Netatmo weather station can be used to tell you weather-related information but it also includes some interesting sensors.  For example, the Netatmo records the noise level.  You may have your smart home programmed to turn off all the lights at 11 pm but what if you are entertaining one evening and all the lights turn off at 11 with all your guests left in the dark?  You can get around this by combining the Netatmo decibel rating in IFTTT to create a more complex rule that will only turn off the lights if the decibel rating is below a conversational level.
  3. Netatmo also records carbon monoxide levels in your home.  You can create a rule that turns on your smart lights and sets the color to red if the CO2 levels rise above a certain level.
  4. Having the house think you’re gone every time you close the garage door may work five days a week when you drive off to work but what about the days you don’t drive?  What about when you go out to cut the grass on the weekend and close the garage door and the house goes into away mode?  A great way to increase the intelligence of the house is to use multiple inputs for decisions.

What Data Points or Types of Information Are Collected by your Devices?

The more sources of information you have, the smarter you home will be.  Other information collected by various smart devices may include any of the following:
  • Does your thermostat sense that you are away?
  • Do you have other devices that can tell if your mobile phone has left the house?
  • Are the lights off?  Is the music playing?
  • Do any of your sensors sense motion?
  • Window sensors detect open windows?
  • Is the ambient noise in the house loud?
There are hundreds of data points that we can use and more being added all the time.  Synergy is using that data to help our home automation systems make more informed decisions about how a space is being used, what resources should be active, and how devices can be used together. Synergy is the magic of Home Automation and is only limited by your imagination.  Do you agree?  Let us know in the comments how you have creatively achieved synergy in your home.