It's nice to see somebody is actually thinking about this.
Why has no one got home automation right? I can think of many ways but it all comes down to this...it lacks "automation" and "intelligence"
Failure #1 The Programmable Home - Pretty much every "home automation" product requires I download an app, or access the user interface and first thing I do is set my preferences. Wait a minute, so you're telling me, right out of the box, they left out the "automation". It may as well be called "Programmable Home" because that's what I'm in effect doing. Now that it's a programmable home, they've immediately lost 90% of their audience who are not "programmers". It doesn't matter how easy you make it to program, the point is most people see little value in something that doesn't "automate". Nest is a good example of a device that learns on its own with little to no setup.
Failure #2 The Wireless Home - Since we are down to 10% and targeting just the techie's who enjoy programming, the home automation products lose even more because there are too many protocols and they do not interact with each other. Do I get Zigbee, Z-Wave, WiFi, Bluetooth or a combo of them? Even if I choose all one format, I still end up with 10 apps on my smartphone and none work together. For instance, I come home and I want to listen to music, I use my remote app to turn on my stereo and start playing my favourite tunes. Now the home phone rings. Oh no, before I can answer the phone, I have to open the app or get my remote to turn down the music. Again, I lose the "automation" in home automation, and even worse, they've made my "smartphone" a truly dumb phone again. I still have to do it myself, the only thing I've gained is doing it wirelessly but it's still not "automated". Lowe's recently announced IRIS which tries to play nice with all formats, but now we move on to the next problem which I call...
Failure #3 The Backward Senses - As humans, we naturally communicate with our 5 senses but probably the top 3 are ; Hearing/Speaking, Sight, and Touch and probably in that order from most to least. But how do we interact with computers? Probably in the backwards order of Touch, Sight, and then Hearing/Speaking. So if it's backwards, then we interact with computers on their terms. As example, to communicate to a person we typically talk first if we can. Voice recognition and artificial intelligence is probably the hardest and last implementation in any device so they design them to be touch first with a keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen. The second example is if we want a person to recognize us, we typically will immediately once we see their face or recognize their voice. Computers on the other hand, require you to type a user name and password or touch a profile. Pretty much every computer interaction is backwards from a human interaction. You may argue that computing power wasn't capable before recently for such interaction and I completely agree. But since this is home automation let's have the computer accommodate us for once.
Failure #4 Timing is Everything - Simply, computers and people for that matter cannot read our mind so there's no point in trying...or can they? I can read my wife's mind...to a degree. For example, she comes home, I recognize her, I know what music she likes so immediately I put on her favourite album. She's going to love that I did that for her without her asking...then I get a shoe in the head. Why? Because I didn't see that she was crying. So before I do anything, I check her mood. Is she smiling or upset? Is her voice raised or calm? Also, if she comes home at 11pm, I doubt she'll be happy if I blast the stereo. There are many ways we recognize whether it's the right time to do something and we don't need to be a mind reader to do it. Shouldn't home automation be the same? If it's going to do something for me automatically, it should be smart to know when and what to do.
Failure #5 It's all about me - So let's say you've developed the coolest home automation ever, it recognizes our face, listens to our commands as we speak or gesture. understands our moods, interacts with other devices, but doesn't take into account there's more than one individual in a house, again it fails. As an example, I start watching a movie by myself and had to stop for whatever reason. Later that day I return to the couch and this time I come back with my kids and it auto resumes the movie. Oops! That movie wasn't exactly something I'd want my kids to watch so why didn't it suggest something more family oriented? Another example, I come home with my wife, I like Heavy Metal, she likes R&B, but we both don't like each other's favourite genre. We do however both usually listen to Jazz when we're together. Shouldn't the system be smart to know to play Jazz when we tell it to play music? I can go on and on, but it should take into consideration there are more than one person in a home at any one time.
There are probably other problems or issues I haven't listed here but I think you get my drift. The common failures of home automation products is companies spend a lot of time designing "what to automate" and forget that "how to automate" is actually more important and the missing piece. Why not be the Apple of Home Automation? They concentrated on the platform and API's and left the rest to others. That seemed to make them pretty successful.
Food for thought...