NOTE: This is an alternative version we’re doing some R&D on in that it will combine the On/Off and Dimmer switch to create one switch. We’re still running the other projects in parallel in case we can’t pull this off, but wanted to put this out there as it has been suggested a few times in the community and resurrected by @EricM_Inovelli himself!
Feel free to tag any of us with questions. Courtney & Darwyn are the go-to’s for overall project management and timeline questions, Eric M is the go-to for any firmware related questions and I’m (Eric H) the go-to for anything else. Either way, we’re all here to help!
- Project Manager (Inovelli): @Courtney_Inovelli
- Project Manager (Manufacturer): @Darwyn_Inovelli
- Innovation Lead: @Eric_Inovelli
- Technical Lead: @EricM_Inovelli
As per our tradition of working with you amazing people, here’s what this thread allows us to do as a community.
- Allows us to keep everyone updated on the project status (either good or bad)
- Allows you to participate and help us develop amazing products together
- Enjoy each other’s company and have fun talking home automation
How this initial post will be laid out is in five sections:
- Project Overview
- Initial Hardware & Software Requirements (edited to remain up-to-date)
- Timeline (edited to remain up-to-date)
- Pinned Ideas & Shout-outs (edited to remain up-to-date)
- 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 a suggestions/wishlist section.
Ok, let’s get this party started!
The purpose of this project is to reach a new market. Traditionally, we’ve stayed in the Z-Wave space (and we will continue to do so) as that’s where we’re comfortable and where we’ve excelled. However, with the announcement of CHIP we made the decision to start developing in that space as well.
The ZigBee Alliance is spearheading the CHIP initiative and when the time comes to launch the CHIP project, certain products will have the ability to OTA the new protocol. In other words, some of the ZigBee switches you purchase now (ours included) will be using the same chip that the CHIP (too many chip references) protocol will use and you’ll be able to instantly OTA your firmware.
In addition, there has been a huge market for switches that work with smart bulbs and while our current Z-Wave switches have this ability already, they’re better suited for Z-Wave bulbs, which are a niche market (at this point in time, I think we’re the only ones who have plans to sell them). Whereas Philips Hue, the most popular and leader in lighting, runs off ZigBee.
We’re excited to start this journey and offer another option for people who aren’t quite ready for a full on hub and maybe are just starting to get their feet wet in home automation.
“New Horizon” refers to us creating something that is new to us. As mentioned above, we’ve staked our existence in Z-Wave, but we’re ready to take on the adventure of a new (to us) protocol in ZigBee and a new (to the industry) protocol in CHIP.
New Horizon - Hardware Requirements
We will be using our current dimmer switch hardware with a few modifications. If you’re really interested in seeing what’s under the tent and how we kick off these projects, here’s the internal PRD (Project Request Document) that we presented.
- 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: should measure the % of how much the switch is dimmed
- LED’s should be RGB (artificial white included)
- LED’s should also be able to be dimmed
- Colors: dimmer switch will be offered in white (matching Lutron Claro wallplates), but the paddle should be able to be replaced to change colors (almond, brown, red, black, grey, etc)
- Slim Design: depth of switch should be as slim as possible so that it can fit into metal boxes.
- Air Gap: UL requirement
- No heat-sink tabs: remove heat sink tabs for easier installation (note: may have to sacrifice max wattage)
- ZigBee 3.0: use the latest ZigBee chipset (should be the same one that will be used for CHIP and compatible with Philips Hue + Amazon Echo Plus)
3-Way / 4-Way Ready: should work in multiple different settings in a 3 & 4 Way setting
- Should work with an auxiliary switch (like GE’s does)
- Should work with an existing dumb switch
- Should work with another smart switch (if wired to another smart switch, it should be able to detect this)
- Power Monitoring: switch should measure the power consumption
- ZigBee Distance Estimator: should be able to estimate the signal strength of the ZigBee signal and notify via the LED bar
Instant On: when tapped 1x (and scenes aren’t used), switch should turn the bulb on instantly (no delay)
- Configurable delay in 100ms increments (see tech doc)
- CFL & LED Compatibility: minimum buzz and flickering
- 600W: increase the wattage to 600 like GE’s
Neutral & Non-Neutral Compatibility: switch should be able to work with a neutral wire or without a neutral wire
- Should auto-detect which setting it’s in (neutral/non-neutral, aux/dumb) and if it can’t, then there should be a manual override.
Auto-Detect Line/Load (and if possible other terminals)
- No matter how customer wires it, the switch should be able to detect what’s wired/where.
Auto-Detect Type of Load:** Switch should auto-detect if it’s installed on a dimmable load or an on/off load and adjust it’s relay accordingly
- 05/28/21: Unfortunately this is not possible at this time. This will be set from the switch
- Auto-Detect Neutral/Non-Neutral: Switch should detect whether or not it’s connected to a neutral wire or not
New Horizon - Software Requirements
Below is what we came up with for the software requirements. A lot has been inspired from our Red Series Dimmer switch!
ZigBee Scene Control: 15 scenes (if possible – not sure if ZigBee supports this yet)
- 14 Scenes via Tapping the Paddle up or down and holding/releasing
- 1 Scenes via Tapping the Config Button
- Aux switch compatibility: Should work with aux switches when scene control is triggered
Notifications via RGB Bars: RGBW Bars should be able to change colors based on events set up by customer (ie: if window sensor is opened, RGBW bar changes to red)
- User can choose to sync the bars or have them show separate notifications
- RGB Bars Config: bar should be able to change colors and also dimmed to the customers favorite level
- Auto Timer: switch should have a timer that shuts the switch off after a certain amount of time
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)
- Internal Relay Disable: internal relay should be able to be disabled locally and via ZigBee
- Set Min/Max Level: minimum dim level / maximum dim level
- Ramp Rate Configuration: ability to change how fast/slow light turns on
- Ramp rate & instant on/off separated
- Default Dim Level: ability to set the default dim level
- OTA Ready: ability to update firmware via OTA
- Associations switch should be able to be associated to other ZigBee devices
- Smart Bulb Mode: mimic our Red Series smart bulb implementation but for ZigBee
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:
- We present a PRD (Project Request Document) that has all of the above info in it (see above section for the pdf)
- R&D (manufacturer) analyzes the PRD and we go back and forth until we can align on 90% of the product
- 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.
In addition, we are using a separate manufacturer for this project so there may be a learning curve. Nothing wrong with our current manufacturer, just this new one is more specialized in ZigBee.
- Present PRD: Completed (April 15, 2021)
- R&D Analyzation: Completed
- Initial Timeline Released: In Progress
The initial timeline will be shown below and will be updated bi-weekly (if needed).
TBD - More info at the end of July – we’re targeting Q4 2021
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).
|Step||Current State||New State|
|1||Press and hold switch up||Press and hold switch up|
|2||700ms pause||Scene command for button pressed is sent|
|3||Scene command for button held is sent||700ms pause|
|4||N/A||Scene command for button held is sent|
Every Wednesday evening or Thursday morning, 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 (or afternoons depending on when we have the meeting).
April 15, 2021: Sent over the PRD for analysis – we should have preliminary feedback on May 13th.
May 28, 2021: We’re moving forward with this design. Preliminary timelines have us in September/October timeframe. Tooling will begin the first week of June and will last 50 days, with the first engineering sample to be received at the end of June. But this switch has almost everything we could ask for (decreased depth by 5mm, no heat sink tabs and basically all features we’ve asked for)
@BuilderTroy – I think they nailed your ground-screw idea too:
Full CAD Viewer can be found here: https://a360.co/3i0WTHG
July 16, 2021: LET’S GOOOOOOOO! Final pricing has been confirmed and we’re off to the races. Apologies for the delay, and this happens every time with a new relationship, but as the manufacturer starts to learn what the switches actual capabilities are, the price seems to go up. So, we had to work over the last month or so to really analyze the costs and work together to bring them back to an acceptable price, while making sure both companies were happy with margins. It was painful, but we finally are in a good spot and agreed to pricing this morning. Even better news, is the manufacturer, in good faith that we’d agree, kept working on the PCBA design and is almost complete, with delivery of the final product still in Q4.