Compatibility done right... This Changes Everything!
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Its been almost six months since we last posted about website changes happening behind the scenes. In March it was changes to the navigation, but today I'm pleased to announce the launch of a project much bigger... Compatibility version 2.
(First, just for a reference point - we've published this short KB to define just what we mean by compatibility vs. interoperability.)
Some time ago we were the first company to launch and maintain (through our own testing), compatibility guides based on the most popular controllers. The Z-Wave one is still one of our most trafficked pages on the site, even though its not been updated in some time. The reason for that is because it became a full time job testing, which wasn't really our job in the first place! Yes, we want to relay the latest information, but when a company updates firmware and then breaks compatibility with another product, it means testing again. So we took a view to rely on manufacturer reports where available, and park the any new 'official' testing late last year.
However, in parallel (around 18 months ago), we decided to tackle the problem fully. Our vision was to not just to list a table of results, but instead weave compatibility right into the fabric of all product pages, so its much clearer as you navigate the site what works with something else. Now, after ALOT of development time in getting it right, today we're launching our first version - lets call it a beta, but we think its pretty much on the button.
We've effectively migrated from being a shop, to becoming a "Smart Home Compatibility Platform" (which still has the benefits of being a shop you can buy from too). This puts us in a different category completely to other retailers who simply offer products with no real thought or meaning behind how they play with each other. We decided some time ago its not good enough that you buy a product then only find later you've headed down a path with a dead end - so the more compatible products your system is able to work with, the better for everyone (more functionality, choice, etc.)
How does it work?
Essentially any product which has a technical relation to another one will be connected. That connection could be via a technology like Z-Wave, a cloud connection like IFTTT, or even a 3rd party product or plugin which bridges the gap. We've taken all this into account and covered most every possible connection method.
Then we began to pull in existing data made available by manufacturers - in this first phase its mainly Z-Wave controller companies, but will shortly expand to other controllers and then device manufacturers too. Next phase will also introduce our own extensive internal test results, as well as data submitted by existing customers. Yes - we've covered every angle...
Some of the data may vary from different sources, and so we've even allowed for test notes which can reference such details as firmware versions and known issues. All will be gathered and published in an ongoing repository that's free for everyone to both view and contribute too - so the more feedback on a particular product connection the better.
We came at this from the angle of Z-Wave controllers since some work with certain devices whilst others don't. But within this platform you'll see connection types revolving around new ecosystems too such as 'Works with Nest' or 'Friends of Hue'.
You can navigate straight to the product or any category and simply click the compatible products link to then be taken to a new search results page.
Click on the 'How' link next to any compatibility relation and a popup will appear showing the method of connection, along with who provided the data and any notes. You can even click on the method in that popup and be taken off to a more detailed explanation of the method used to connect, for example: Z-Wave Plus, Friends of Hue or Works with Nest
So here's what we've launched with for starters.
This concept is so far ahead in home automation, but we're already nearing completion of a version 2, and specifying the following iteration too. There's alot of new features and possibilities we'll be building out over the coming months, and we welcome all feedback.
As a final note - the data isn't complete and will always be evolving. If it shows as compatible then that's the case, but if there's any missing compatibilities it doesn't mean it won't work, just that we've not yet imported the data.
We also can't be responsible for any incorrect data - this is all currently pulled in directly from supplier / manufacturers and not based on our own testing.
Please, we'd really like to hear what you think - any incorrect information, suggested improvements etc, just send anything to firstname.lastname@example.org