IoT Home Automation: a Complete Guide to Developing a Smart Home App

Feb 07, 2022

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Would you like to come home and be greeted by a virtual assistant? When the temperature is just right, your favorite music automatically plays back, and takeaway options are offered. Well, more and more people invest in home automation apps to enjoy such an experience.

Based on estimates, 37% of US households own a smart home device, the highest smart systems penetration rate worldwide. It causes the rise of smart systems sales and creates a tremendous demand for smart home application development services.

If you plan to design software for home IoT automation, this article is for you. It’s a guide that explains what to expect from the IoT automation market and how to design a smart home app.

Smart Home App Market Overview: The State and Future of Home Automation

People buy smart speakers, thermostats, doorbells, bulbs, and other IoT appliances to make their lives more comfortable. As a result of the increasing home applications popularity, this market segment is growing. By 2025, smart home solutions revenue in the United States will reach 47 billion US dollars, almost doubling since 2020. The number of smart homes, home automation app adoption, and other rates also prove the steady growth of home IoT devices.

  • There are 258 million smart homes worldwide and 47.4 million of them in the US.
  • The global smart home penetration rate reaches 12%.
  • In 2022, Google Home will have the largest share in the IoT devices market – 48%.
  • By 2024, Americans will install around 78 million bases of smart home systems.
  • In 2021, 9% of US households owned a major smart appliance.

smart gome technology(Source)

Even though smart systems don’t flood the market as rapidly as smartphones did in the 2010’s, they gradually win consumers. People start seeing benefits in home automation apps that allow them to manage IoT appliances remotely. As smart systems become more common, even consumers who have never thought of smart home solutions before change their minds.

How Does a Home Automation App Work?

All home automation apps rely on the same principle of work. They connect multiple home IoT devices into a single system managed with voice. It allows users to monitor what happens in the house, control devices, and automate processes (e.g., heating the room to a specific temperature). To perform these tasks smart systems consist of three components: a central hub, a connected home automation app, and smart devices.

Main Home Automation Components of Any Smart System

Every device users connect must be integrated with the central hub station and smart home app. It allows turning disparate home IoT devices into a single ecosystem. Here’s what you should know about each of the home automation components:

Smart hub

The hub is hardware or software that works as a smart home automation command center using IoT. It controls communication between devices and allows them to exchange information to align actions. Using the smart hub, the person can, for example, open the garage doors, turn on the lights, and start the kettle in one click. Smart home solutions can control various smart and IoT-enabled devices, including sensors on thermostats, outlets, switches, lightbulbs, door locks, doorbells, window blinds, energy monitors, flood and leak sensors, fans, etc.

The only problem is that with some smart hubs, users can only integrate devices from the same manufacturer. It harms the connectivity of smart home solutions. As a result, when a smoke detector notices a fire, it may fail to trigger the security system, for example. Even light bulbs from different brands may be a problem if each manufacturer offers their custom app.

Predictably, users prefer smart hubs without connectivity limitations, like the Amazon Echo or Google Nest Hub. Hence, when you build a home automation system, make it universal.

Home Automation App

The functionality of the smart home apps is very versatile, from sensor management to security. A home automation app enables users to manage their homes remotely and monitor devices from a single interface. They can change the temperature on their way home, receive alerts when something goes wrong, see energy consumption statistics, and more.

Home automation apps are mostly supported by the manufacturers of smart hubs and devices. Users only need to go to Google Play or App Store to download a suitable version of the home automation app and complete the configuration.

IoT Devices for Home

While the smart home app manages everything and the hub ensures connectivity, IoT devices for home do the dirty work. These are security gadgets, home appliances, lighting systems, air-conditioning, heating, and other IoT appliances that actually complete the user’s instructions.

They are also the most expensive part for end-users since for a truly IoT smart home, many devices are needed. To add any device to the IoT home automation environment, users have to connect it with a smart home app or hub first.

We hired 130+ technology experts to assemble a dedicated team for your unique project needs. Contact us to discuss your home automation app ideas now.

How to Build a Home Automation System App? 9 Steps

Internet of things home automation requires an app that will tie everything together. You won’t turn a simple house into an IoT smart home without software. In this section, we explain the essentials of smart home app development. Follow these steps to build a home automation app that can win users’ hearts.

Step #1. Run Discovery Before Your Build a Home Automation System

Large IT projects exceed the initial budget by 45% and run 7% over time. Moverover, they deliver 56% less value than predicted. What’s the main reason for such miscalculations? Insufficient attention to prior business analysis.

Planning a new product in the Internet of Things home automation field always starts with requirements discovery. The research conducted by professional business analysts will help you understand what kind of smart home solutions are missing on the market and how much it costs to develop such a smart home app. You will predict the budget more accurately and create a product development roadmap.

At the discovery phase, you need to:

  • Brainstorm your business idea
  • Understand the user persona and the target audience of IoT home automation
  • Analyze competitor smart home apps and the market
  • Draw the concept of the future smart home app
  • Determine the scope of software development tasks and deadlines
  • Assemble the team based on discovered business and technical requirements

Step #2. Choose the Type of the Home Automation App

After the business analysis, you will already know enough to decide what kind of smart systems your target audience needs. Generally, smart home solutions fall into two broad categories: single-purpose and multi-purpose. As the name suggests, single-purpose smart systems complete one main task, like managing a specific device. They are convenient to use and have only essential features. Multi-purpose smart home solutions are all-in-one systems that allow users to manage all home applications from one interface. They have rich and sophisticated functionality.

The choice will depend on whether you create a smart home app for a specific task or want a universal system. Nowadays, comprehensive multi-purpose smart home applications dominate.

Step #3. Decide Between Ready-Made and Custom Smart Home Solutions

Your engineering team can use one of the existing platforms to build a home automation system (AWS IoT, IBM Watson, Google Cloud IoT, Salesforce IoT, etc.). They have ready-made functionality to speed up the development process and cut costs. In particular, such platforms help connect parts of the hardware, implement security and authentication features, utilize protocols, add data collection and analysis, and more. Yet, you will need to pay a subscription fee and be ready for limited capabilities.

We recommend custom development to avoid limitations while designing your smart home solutions. When you build a home automation system with a custom approach, you are free to choose the tech stack, protocols, and operational capabilities to create something unique.

Step #4. Create Smart Home App User Scenarios

This step is the task for UX designers. Only by knowing how end-users act, you can offer them a smooth in-app experience. Therefore, working on an IoT automation home app, you need to create user scenarios. These stories map how users can behave to achieve the popular goals in an Internet of Things home automation app. They reflect users’ needs, motivations, and barriers.

Step #5. Come Up With the List of Features of IoT System

Now it’s time to finalize the functionality of your smart systems. The features of IoT smart home solutions vary depending on the devices they connect. Nevertheless, there are some standard capabilities most home applications offer:

  • Sign up and profile
  • Home screen
  • Device dashboard
  • Groups and scenarios
  • Push notifications
  • Room selection
  • Access configuration
  • Onboarding guide
  • Settings

Step #6. Pick the Connection Method for IoT and Smart Home Tech

For connecting home automation components, you need to enable data exchange between the smart home app and devices. The type of connection depends on the protocol. The most popular solutions for smart systems are Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and ZigBee.

Protocol   Description
Wi-Fi An affordable option with a 10-100 m connectivity range. It supports most of the existing smart home appliances. The main drawback is high energy consumption and lowered efficiency when the distance between the signal source and the device is considerable.
Bluetooth A low energy consuming connectivity technology that saves the user’s battery. It offers high data security and fast data exchange being one of the best options for home IoT automation.
Z-Wave Communication between devices is enabled through a radio channel. The Z-Wave protocol can connect up to 1500 devices, but the connection quality is unstable, just like radio frequencies in some locations.
ZigBee ZigBee is affordable and works with many existing home IoT automation solutions. Yet when there are multiple devices on similar frequencies, the connection deteriorates.

Step #7. Decide What Devices Your Home Automation App Will Support

You need to know what devices users will pair with your smart home app to implement the necessary features and UI elements. For example, the most popular smart devices in the living room include a speaker (35.6%), television (25.7%), gaming console (25%), hub with a screen (21.5%), and robot vacuum (6.6%). In the kitchen, people are most likely to use a fridge, oven, dishwasher, and microwave. Apart from that, users often connect thermostats, light switches, and other devices.

popular smart devices(Source)

Step #8. Choose the Type of Data Storage

Those who build a home automation system should expect to collect lots of data. Every device connected to the network will gather and process information. Hence, it’s essential to think beforehand about the best data storage option. Basically, you will choose between local and cloud storage.

Cloud enables users to access data from anywhere anytime as long as they have an internet connection. Cloud systems are also more convenient in terms of data recovery and scalability. When you keep data locally, it is stored on the FTP server or built-in memory storage. This option is less popular due to increased power consumption and expensive hardware maintenance.

Step #9. Develop a Security Strategy for Smart Systems

Security is a big problem for home automation and Internet of Things solutions since they handle lots of personal data. That’s why you should build a home automation system with security in mind. Make sure to implement authentication for all services and endpoints, use data encryption, and continuously update the home automation app to eliminate any vulnerabilities.

Why Leobit for IoT Automation Software Development

If you want a tech partner to build a home automation system with custom features, Leobit can help. Leobit is a full-cycle web and mobile application development provider for technology companies and startups across the globe. Since our team has already launched IoT smart home apps, we know how to build a home automation system that meets business needs. A home security mobile app utilizing IoT technology is one of our projects. Leobit has strengthened the customer’s team with software engineers and QA specialists to create a software component for the IoT in-house security system.

smart home appIoT Software for Smart Houses Developed by Leobit

Tetiana Paratsii
Tetiana Paratsii
Marketing Analyst at Leobit
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