Alexey Pelykh · CEO & CTO

Switchmate Case Study: From Separate Smart Lighting Solutions To Multi-device Home Ecosystem

Switchmate Case Study: From Separate Smart Lighting Solutions To Multi-device Home Ecosystem

Disruptive technologies of the last decade gave a strong momentum for the development of so many new things, and an updated concept of home automation, also known as smart home, was definitely among them. In 2016 Switchmate — a startup company headquartered in San Francisco — saw which way the cat did a jump and focused on developing solutions for smart home lighting and security. The company endeavored to bring automated lighting and safety to every home removing typical issues of the industry — complexity and cost barriers.

Switchmate Smart Lighting Solutions

Switchmate

Due to strong magnets behind the device you can place it right over any light switch in your house

Following the principle “smart can be simple and practical”, over several years of painstaking efforts, the Switchmate company created a set of compelling products that were fully appreciated by both technology experts and ordinary users. “It aesthetically weaves seamlessly into the architecture of most homes. You don’t even notice it. I absolutely love that I don’t have to hire an electrician to install it, that the app pairs with the device via Bluetooth as quickly as I’ve ever seen a pairing happen,” — admitted Scott Cramer in Forbes describing his own experience of using Switchmate. Devices can be connected to a single central hub and easily controlled via one app. Users can still manipulate them manually by resorting to special wall switches.

Switchmate team at the TechCrunch event

The Switchmate team at the TechCrunch event in 2015

The Importance Of Having A Good Software Development Partner

Business is a long distance and if you what to go far, go together. In 2016 the company was looking for a reliable software development partner. However, several attempts to build effective partnerships entirely failed one after another. Three software development teams just couldn’t implement a bunch of critically important features to deliver appropriate mobile apps. When the company contacted BBA for the first time, their team was quite depressed and disappointed. At this stage, our primary mission was to inspire the folks from Switchmate and give them hope for good results in the near future.

We started the collaboration with Switchmate fixing bugs in iOS version and preparing the application for the first release in App Store. But even a quick look at the product revealed some serious defects in the development process. First of all, we faced a problem with team coordination, particularly, in firmware and software departments. Due to a huge mess with tasks the project barely stayed alive.

Also global smart home trends revealed another big issue. From the very beginning, Switchmate invented solutions for smart house lighting. However, in 2016 their product line contained only separate devices that lived their own isolated life. Each new stuff required a new app, but according to the latest smart home trends, it had no sense. Potential customers expected a completely different thing — they wanted to get all-in-one solution. So our next step of collaboration with the Switchmate company was to help them change the general approach and start creating a single ecosystem of connected home products.

A piece of Switchmate UX design

A piece of UX design

Creating Smart Lighting Solutions

BrainBeanApps started cooperation by providing two developers to roll out an app for iOS and Android, but when the Switchmate founders realized how professional we are, they were ready to extend the collaboration. As a result, our team engaged in the project grew up to nine specialists including iOS and Android developers as well as QA engineers. In fact, the BBA company turned into a long-term partner as in total we worked together for almost two years—from December’16 to October’18. Over this time we proved that we can meet tight deadlines, complex technical demands, rapid changes of business priorities and market challenges.

Another piece of Switchmate interface

Another piece of interface

Here is a whole list of features we implemented into the product to make Switchmate a top provider of a better lifestyle:

  • easy control of regular switches and power ports via mobile phone,
  • multiple timers to schedule indoor/outdoor illumination,
  • wireless update and upgrade of an operating firmware running on devices (firmware over-the-air technology),
  • voice control without extra hubs,
  • compatibility with Google Home and Google Assistant app,
  • cloud communications for storage and monitoring,
  • multifunctional security system and away mode for long absence,
  • video recording and playback options,
  • widgets and push notifications,
  • device grouping for better user experience,
  • motion sensor to turn on and off lights automatically.

Typical app layout

Typical app layout

Besides pure code writing, we dealt with UI/UX design, project management, quality assurance and staff recruiting. Due to our deep expertise in Bluetooth and location services, we also helped remote teams from Taiwan, US, and India that worked on other pieces of the project with problem researches and bug fixing, suggesting improvements and alternative solutions. Among challenges we have bravely accepted and successfully completed there was an intensive upgrade of documentation related to firmware and cloud technologies. Our team worked hard to create smart home ecosystem that would be friendly for app, cloud, firmware, and devices. We generated only clear and smooth code for simple maintenance and scaling — if folks from Switchmate need to add new device types, they can easily do it in the future.

Ultimate Reason To Develop Smart Home Software with BBA

Together with Switchmate we spent about 16000 hours of super intensive and creative working time designing a simple and actual out-of-hub system of an automated house. Sometimes customers need not that much to reach a new level and the Switchmate company showed it by its own example.

The story of collaboration with Switchmate revealed a really strong advantage of the BBA company. Our team has enough experience and creativity to catch up the product at any stage of its development. It can be extremely important when the process has already been spoiled with bad solutions and the founders are disoriented what to do next. Our critically valuable skill is to consider any device as a piece of a huge smart home eco-system. It helps us to detect the key mistakes made before and effectively fix them.

Our experts are always happy to provide device producers with in-depth consulting service. We help our clients to see their product from the new perspective taking into consideration actual world trends.

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