Paddle Remote | Project BFF

@Courtney_Inovelli and I will be leading this project. Cut her some slack as this is the first one she’s taking on!

As mentioned in the 2020 Product Roadmap this is one of the projects slated for 2020. In addition, this thread serves multiple purposes.

  1. Allows us to keep you updated on the project status (either good or bad)
  2. Allows you to participate and help us develop amazing products with you
  3. Enjoy each other’s company and have fun talking home automation

How this initial post will be laid out is in five sections:

  1. Project Overview
  2. Initial Hardware & Software Requirements (edited to remain up-to-date)
  3. Timeline (edited to remain up-to-date)
  4. Pinned Ideas & Shout-outs (edited to remain up-to-date)
  5. Weekly Recap


  • DATES & FUNCTIONS ARE NOT SET IN STONE: Just a reminder that all dates and functions are sometimes fluid. We have to make choices based on feasibility, opportunity costs, and overall timeline. I will be as transparent as possible on these decisions, but just a heads up, they may not always be exciting.
  • NO IDEA IS A BAD IDEA: Ok, some are, but honestly throw out anything that you can think of. If we use your idea, we’ll credit you and send you a free device, so take that shot!
  • VERSION 1 VS VERSION 2: Some ideas may be fantastic, but may not make the cut for the first version of the product. Once the product is locked in from a function standpoint, we’ll keep a tally of V2 ideas and then once the product is produced, we’ll move the ideas over to the Suggestions & Wishlist section.

Ok, let’s get this party started!

Project Overview
The purpose of this project is to provide the first Z-Wave remote on the market. This is huge in that it will provide people with the option of a non-wired switch. Perfect for people who rent, and to create new 3-Way (or multi-switch) setups with no need to rewire.

In addition, this remote will match our In-Wall On/Off switch (we couldn’t match the dimmer bc the 7 LED’s would drain the battery incredibly fast) giving you that finished look you’ve always wanted (ie: no-mismatching here!)

Project Name - BFF

We brought out our inner 5th-Grader with this name. OMG you’re my BFF4EVA!

Kidding – the remote is meant to be best friends with our in-wall switches and bulbs and this is where the name came from. You can directly associate the remote with a bulb or switch, which is pretty sweet.

BFF - Hardware Requirements
Here are the initial hardware asks we came up with. Pretty decent start!

Hardware - Initial Mockup

NOTE: This will match our On/Off Switches in look/feel.

Hardware - Remote (Look / Feel)

  • Responsive Paddle: Rests in a neutral state (tap up = on // tap down = off & hold up = dim up // hold down = dim down)
  • Config / Favorite Button: Button should be used for configuration of the switch as well as scene control.
    • Should be able to be held (for config)
    • Should be able to be tapped (for scene control)
  • RGB LED Bar: Used for config and to confirm commands are sent (not meant to be left on all the time due to the drain in battery)
  • Colors: Dimmer switch will be offered in white, but the paddle should be able to be replaced to change colors (almond, brown, red, black, grey, etc)
  • Slim Design: Depth of remote should be as slim as possible so that it looks like a normal switch.
  • Battery Type: Needs to be a commonly used battery

Hardware - Features & Capabilities

  • 700 Series Z-Wave Plus: use the best Z-Wave module on the market
  • Z-Wave Distance Estimator: should be able to estimate the signal strength of the Z-Wave signal and notify via the LED bar

BFF - Software Requirements
Below is what we came up with for the software requirements. Welcome to the next level!

  • Z-Wave Scene Control: 11 scenes (Z-Wave Central Scene Command)
    • 10 Scenes via Tapping the Paddle up or down
    • 1 Scenes via Tapping the Config Button
  • Easy Config: switch should be able to be configured via the config/favorites button.
    • There should be infinite customization via parameters in the firmware, but also set customizations for HUB’s that do not allow parameter changes (ie: Wink)
  • OTA Ready: ability to update firmware via OTA
  • Associations switch should be able to be associated to other Z-Wave devices

Ah, everyone’s favorite part. When is this flippin thing going to be released? Great question – here’s the high-level of what happens leading up to the first release of the timeline:

  1. We present a PRD (Project Request Document) that has all of the above info in it
  2. R&D (manufacturer) analyzes the PRD and we go back and forth until we can align on 90% of the product
  3. Initial Timeline is released and remaining 10% of product features are added/cut along the way

Again, just want to throw this out there – I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t predict things that come up along the way. Trust me when I say we’re trying our best to get things launched on time.

Pre-Initial Timeline Milestones:

  • Present PRD: Completed 08/17/2019
  • R&D Analyzation: Completed 12/12/2019
  • Initial Timeline Released: Completed 01/04/2020

Timeline (Estimated)

The initial timeline will be shown below and will be updated weekly (if needed).

  • Design Phase: Completed
    • Hardware Design (PCB Design & Testing): Completed
    • RF & Antenna Design: Completed
    • Firmware (For Basic Functions Only): Not Started (est. completion date is TBD)
  • Tooling: Not Started (est. completion date is TBD)
  • EVT Phase: Not Started (est. completion date is TBD)
  • DVT Phase: Not Started (est. completion date is TBD)
  • Certifications: Not Started (est. completion date is TBD)
    • Z-Wave Certification (Technical): Not Started
    • Z-Wave Certification (Marketing): Not Started
    • FCC Certification: Not Started
    • IC Certification: Not Started
    • UL Certification: Not Started
  • Mass Production: Not Started (est. completion date is TBD)
  • Arrival on Amazon, , etc: Not started (est. completion TBD)

Pinned Ideas & Shout-Outs
Here are the ideas from the community. We sincerely appreciate them, we love them, and we couldn’t create the products we do without them. So, thank you for your input and let’s continue to innovate together and change the home automation category for the better (NOTE: if an idea is crossed out, it’s not because it wasn’t valid, nor was it something we didn’t consider – we’ve discussed it internally or with the manufacturer and unfortunately it was not feasible).


  • @harjms: Inductive charged so people can charge up the remote on a wireless charge pad


  • @doublepedaldylan: Find the remote mode, where the indicator flashes it’s status LED (though probably could be programmed through “notifications” if that’s a thing). That or have it beep.
  • @jtronicus: * Multi-channel association. Some zwave devices contain multiple switches in a single node (like a power strip with individually controllable outlets). Instead of showing up as an individual node (node 12), it will show up as multiple subnodes (node 12.1, 12.2, 12.3, etc). Without multi-channel association, this switch would control all outlets at once instead of being able to associate to a specific outlet.
  • Basic-Set Association groups for double-tap, triple-tap, etc (could partially reduce the need to set up scenes)
  • Multi-Level Start/Stop association for things like “double-tap and hold” (coupled with basic-set association groups to allow dimming of a separate device)

Weekly Recap
Every Wednesday, we have a meeting with our manufacturer to go over the various projects (status, issues, timeline, etc) and below I’ll provide a recap as well as edit the sections above so we can all keep track. If you have any specific questions you’d like me to ask, feel free to tag me and let me know so I can ask them as well. The weekly cadence for updates will be Thursday mornings.

March 14, 2020: This project is slated for a June 2020 release. We haven’t shared much on this project due to the fact that we have been going back and forth on the product design for at least 6 months now trying to get it as thin as possible. We didn’t like where it was at until recently and since then, the team has managed to get it almost as thin as Lutron’s Pico. Now that the design is in place, it’s time to work on the firmware.

NOTE: there are still some design changes (config button needs to move up, paddle needs to be wider, etc – see changes requested below)

Requested Changes:

@Eric_Inovelli @Courtney_Inovelli - This thing glow in the dark green or just mock up color?

Anyway to make it inductive charged so people can charge up the remote on a wireless charge pad? You could even make a “wall” charger where it looks like a wall plate and charge it up.

Interesting ideas. Keep it up. I thought 700 series would have more config taps though. I want it to be like a Mortal Combat 3 fatality code e.g. Up+Up+Down+Down= Triggers All lights off and mortal combat music on All Alexa devices.

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Yeah, great question. Glow in the dark green is the new white, in case you haven’t heard. Being on the forefront of market trends is what we’re all about, so we thought we’d offer this in a couple of obnoxious colors: glow in the dark green and almond.

Kidding - yeah, idk why they use that color for mockup purposes lol. It will come in the standard white option (the button won’t be transparent either).

That’s an interesting idea in the inductive charging, we’ll check with them!

Lol, I mean we can add more config taps if you want. We wanted to keep it consistent with our switches… But, our fan/light does have like 42 scenes or something so who knows, maybe we’ll go crazy!

Well let’s just hope it’s the real white this time. I’m happy that my other half hasn’t recognized the two different whites between the aux switches and wall plates and Inovelli’s “white”. :grin:

I would vote for a thicker platform if it meant no battery changes and was rechargeable. Maybe less likely to be lost in the couch cushions? Caveat, I live in the state where we banned plastic straws to save the turtles, but I still use plastic straws, so not that hippy.

Maybe @EricM_Inovelli can program some Easter eggs in the switches.

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Haha, yeah good reminder on the white. This one still burns a bit as we gave them the Lutron Claro faceplates to match and they didn’t and we didn’t catch on until it was too late. Ugh…

Now we’re stuck with the choice of embracing the Inovelli white or having two different shades in market (Inovelli white and the Lutron white).

Customer Service: There seems to be an issue with the remotes. People keep writing into us saying their house is now so smart that it’s telling them to stop blaming all the problems on the WAF when really it’s just them being picky.

Maycock: It’s working just fine lol


Lol, at least there’d be some interesting stories coming in!


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This is exactly what I have been looking for for years, but have never been able to find:

  • Battery-powered
  • 1+ year battery life
  • Low profile (doesn’t stick out further than a normal switch)
  • Has scene support
  • Separate on/off buttons
  • Z-wave

Until now, the closest I have found is the Aspire RF9500. The Aspire works and has an insane battery life, but the lack of scene support limits its usefulness to me (it is also unusually expensive and difficult to find the buttons in the dark because of how flat is is).

Some software features I would like to see:

  • Multi-channel association. Some zwave devices contain multiple switches in a single node (like a power strip with individually controllable outlets). Instead of showing up as an individual node (node 12), it will show up as multiple subnodes (node 12.1, 12.2, 12.3, etc). Without multi-channel association, this switch would control all outlets at once instead of being able to associate to a specific outlet.
  • Basic-Set Association groups for double-tap, triple-tap, etc (could partially reduce the need to set up scenes)
  • Multi-Level Start/Stop association for things like “double-tap and hold” (coupled with basic-set association groups to allow dimming of a separate device)

Thanks for the suggestions @jtronicus! We’ll make sure they’re included in the wishlist. :wink:

Kudos for making something to compete with the Pico Remote!!!

If this sort of things had been available when I started my smart home, I never would have gotten into buying the expensive Caseta devices.


I’ve been SO close to going this route a few times. Looks like I may not go down this road at all now :smiley:

Would it be possible to power the remote using an existing line and neutral (vice battery)? For instance, I’m looking to add a smart light above my dining room table controlled by a wall switch (the “wall switch” would be the Project BFF remote). There are easily accessible existing circuits at both locations (but NOT the same circuit). I’m wondering if it would be difficult to expand the project to include this use case.

I’d second the idea of line power as an option. (also suggested this in the general discussion regarding multi-button remote). If this would add unacceptable cost consider an accessory clip on that would do the line to battery conversion but would meet UL etc standards. I could imagine a separate small plug in that would just contain an AC line to 3 or 6v DC (or whatever battery level you choose) built around things like the small HiWin supplies readily available from China.

Wouldn’t this be essentially the same as installing a red series dimmer with no load?

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Not if done in the multi button version. Also, it should be cheaper and smaller and a direct piggy back off the battery version.

My mind is on the “cheaper and smaller”!

I’d love for this to be 120v powered.
I think the way to do that would be put contact pads on the back of the remote, and then make a single gang gadget that’s just a transformer with pogo pins and a magnet putting out 3v DC or something like that.
Result is you put the transformer in the wall, and the remote sticks right onto it. That increases usability as you can use the wall socket as a charging base if you use a lithium ion battery. Or just a place to keep the remote if you use a normal coin cell. Then programming wise, LED stays on in sync with main switch if power is hardwired, goes off after a few seconds if on battery.
Of course that means the transformer has to go through UL / CE / etc and that increases cost for everything :\


Using a small format e-paper or ink screens that are strong enough to be buttons with RGB LEDs behind each button. Each button could be a notification to match the current red series switches and flash the programmed notification color. The firmware could have preprogrammed icons that are selected when assigning the buttons. E. G. Press button 1 2x it will display a basic lamp icon. Text could be added as well to say Floor Lamp. The button 1 backlight RGB led would then flash green to indicate the command was sent. Press the button 3x and the scene could trigger living room lights turned on and dimmed to 56% via Red Series dimmer.

Configuration is endless. Basic icons and a large amount of scene controls.

One thing is if the remote is too small, then it will be lost in couch cushion. To have a wall dimmer trigger a find me ring would be pretty sweet.

I still recommend using internal rechargeable battery with inductive or micro (eww) or usb-c port to recharge.

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This is so smart! Then one can still do something like pulling an air gap on the switch in case power need to be cut to light switches completely. This also would allow a complete line of faceplates with different functionality, but all use the same backing.

The Wink Relay operated in a similar manner with the contact pads, although it wasn’t intended to be removable.
You would the base containing the relays to 120v and snap the relay itself onto the base. There were three or four pins that would supply power and control the relays in the base.

Will this remote be wall-mountable like the picos? I would love to replace my Lutron setup with these, once the fan switch (Project Windy City) and this remote gets released.