About a year ago, this project started as an alternative OpenHAB UI that was mainly addressing my personal pain points with existing options. As the time went on and user base grew, I noticed that although the project was improving UI experience, the setup was still suffering. A lot of posts and bug reports were about confusion around sitemap elements, item types, item configs and so on. Slight improvement would have been possible with a better documentation, but it would still be a lot of time and pain for a user to convert generic examples to personal configurations. I saw this as an opportunity to introduce the application with a goal to improve that part of user experience.
Now, a year later, as the application grows and continue to shape itself into user friendly UI, I came to a conclusion that this next step will allow for the most flexibility and convenience. The next progression for the project is to detach itself from OpenHAB sitemaps and allow the app to easily support multiple platforms. OH1, OH2 and any other home automation system, or even any combination of them can be implemented in one place with a single UI. Any supported platform will be treated as a collection of devices and items that could be controlled through the app. Dashboard setup will be done entirely on a device itself, and widgets will be fully agnostic to any specific system. Initially, OpenHAB, Home Assistant and MQTT systems will be supported with a possibility of adding more later. Therefore, from this point forward Project Rotini is transforming into generic home automation application rather than an exclusive OpenHAB UI.
Below are some features that would be in the initial beta release as well as the ones that are planned to be added in the near future. The initial beta release would happen within the next few months.
Initial beta features
- Most of the current functionality (screensaver, themes, widgets)
- On-device dashboard setup
- OpenHAB support
- Home Assistant support
- MQTT support
- Tablet-only at first
Near future features
- Phone support
- Platform discovery
- Widgets (thermostat, blinds, person, etc.)
- Improvements to current widgets (map, music)
- Location tracking and geofencing
- Speech/sound announcements and on-screen notifications
- More screensaver options (photos)
- More built-in backdrop sources
As it was mentioned at the inception of this project, it is likely to become a commercial application. That will happen at the official release in a few months’ time with an expected price point of $10-$15 per device (e.g. tablet, phone). Each device license would be transferable to a new device at any time. Commercial aspect of the project will help with the future support and sustainability. Trial version or limited version will be available for sampling the product.
That being said, I would hate for any of the current users to be put under pressure to transfer or be left without any options. For those of you who would like to transition to other solutions, sufficient time will be allowed to do that at your convenience. In order to do that, the new beta version will not be replacing the current build. Instead, a separate application will be released in the play store that could be installed side-by-side with the current one. The current version will be available for a few more months before it finally expires for good.
A few words about the pricing per device rather than one-time fee. I made a choice for this pricing strategy to allow a lower entry point for someone who is just starting out with home automation overall or a particular platform. In addition, it also provides a sustainable pricing in the long term by ensuring the fair balance between the application usage and the price paid.
I hope you will find improved application and the future vision of the project beneficial and I’m looking forward to continue to improve your home automation experience.