I haven't received my Flic Hub yet, but from what I've seen in instructional and review videos, I'm finding the device unusable for my setup :/. I hate to say that because I've been extremely excited for the device. With its support for 64 buttons, it sounds like the solution I need.
I've got over 40 Flic buttons, and it's a pain to manage them through my own system since it requires a new Raspberry Pi for every 10 buttons, and I have no way of updating their firmware nor do I really know which Raspberry Pi each button's connected to. If I move a button, it's a lot of trouble to switch which Pi it's listening to. I was hoping the Flic Hub would provide a solution to the issues.
Different from the phone connection, the Flic Hub only solves the problem of phone Bluetooth, but I see it doing so much more. I know there's IR functionality, and I'm excited to see if that would work better than my Logitech Harmony setup, but that's none of my concern right now as I backed the device specifically for smart home control.
Here are some suggestions I'd like to see in the Flic Hub software:
- Add functionality to manage devices at scale such as making bulk edits or some easier interface of making configuration changes quickly. This way I wouldn't have to manually configure 120 button combinations (40 buttons x 3 press types) on a phone one-by-one. Yuck. I have better things to do with my time.
- The ability to have double-press-and-hold and triple-press. I use these extensively in my own buttons. My whole family's been trained to use them, and it's made triggering scenes super easy for everyone. Even triple-press-and-hold would be great. I understand my home-grown solution for this has some drawbacks specifically because it's based on Bluetooth lag and works strangely depending on the button's distance away from the Raspberry Pi.
- Add the ability to change the response time on the buttons (debounce time). This is especially important for making the buttons feel less laggy. When turning on lights, I need it as immediate as possible or family, guests, and I get frustrated. Light and fan switches are immediate so everyone expects Flic buttons to work the same. The best way to achieve this is lowering the debounce time. If I buy an expensive button, it should be more-convenient and snappy feeling than voice control.
- Alphabetize scenes in the LIFX connection and switches in the WeMo section. I have too many devices and scenes, so it's a major pain to find them all when they're scattered randomly. I've noticed a bunch of other home automation companies have this same issue and don't understand it. It's like no one producing these products actually uses them. It's not unreasonable to have hundreds of lights in your house or a bunch of AC-connected devices.
- Show names for all the Google Chromecast devices. For some reason, my list shows a Chromecast Bedroom (even though I don't have a device with that name) and a bunch of Google Home Minis and Chromecast Audios with really strange names. Looks like the device name plus a SHA hash.
- A web interface to manage devices. This way I could do it away from home or at my computer. I get that this isn't super high-priority when you've got a working product, but I do web software engineering for a living so it's probably more important to me.
I believe adding press types and a configurable debounce time require firmware updates. Is that true? Is it a problem to write changes like this to the buttons' NAND flash?
I hope these suggestions are doable. Since my Flic Hub's coming soon, and going to be non-functional for my use case and button count, if you are considering any of my suggestions, which ones and what's a possible timeline?
I understand Flic's a growing company, and I'm only one of many users so I understand if none of these are priority; although, I was really hoping the product I backed would really solve the problems I've come up against when using a bunch of Flic buttons in my home.
Even if all I get is the ability to upload a JSON configuration file for all my buttons with extra press types and debounce settings, that would be a significant improvement because I'd be able to actually use the device I backed for my specific setup.