On our most recent IoT Podcast episode, Brent called in to our voicemail hotline asking how to name devices in the smart home. Brent decided to call one of his lights “mushroom” (maybe it’s a Super Mario Bros. themed room?) and his digital assistant is having issues correctly interpreting the name. Having set up scores of devices with different naming schemes, we have some advice for Brent, and everyone else.
The key is to keep it simple and don’t get “cute” with your device names. The more you stray from that strategy, the more likely it is that your digital assistant will essentially choke on your custom device name.
Stacey actually recommends using device names with two or three syllables, having had more success with that requirement. And it makes sense: The more data, i.e. syllables, a digital assistant has to work with, the better the chances it will correctly interpret the name.
The approach that has worked best for me is to call devices by some intuitive name. So the lamp next to my TV, for example, is called “TV light”. I have two office lamps with multiple bulbs in each and I name each bulb by its position on the lamp stack. So I have a “left middle” and a “right middle” bulb that I can turn on independently from the top and bottom bulbs on each lamp.
This makes it easier to use the lights, not just for me, but for anyone else in my family as they don’t have to guess the names. Nor do they really have to remember any personalized custom names. Once I explained my setup, they got it.
Don’t forget too that you can make life easier in your smart home with scenes, routines, and groupings for devices. By using descriptive names, I can control single devices. But by grouping that TV light with the actual television and some other lights in the same room, I can control them all collectively with the “living room” group name.
An alternative is to use the “living room” moniker as part of the name for some of the devices and just say “Turn Living Room” on. Even without a formal grouping, any device with “Living Room” in the name will be enabled.
Remember, don’t be cute: Keep your device names intuitive and descriptive!
To hear Brent’s question in full, as well as our discussion on the topic, tune in to the IoT Podcast below: