INSTEON Builds Secure and Reliable Home Automation Solution Using PubNub

INSTEON-R-2C-squaredINSTEON is the world’s only dual-mesh IoT wireless network with over 200 home automation products. With an iOS, Android or Windows smartphone app and an INSTEON Hub, users can turn on lights, lock doors, view cameras and receive instant alerts from sensors whether they’re on their home network or remote in realtime. Easy to install and use, INSTEON creates a seamless and secure home automation experience.

Going Beyond HTTP

INSTEON originally built their home automation solution with HTTP to enable communication between the INSTEON Hub and the client iOS, Android and Windows smartphone applications. This infrastructure worked for INSTEON when their users were connected to the same network as the Hub (for example, when they were in their home), but wasn’t as reliable when the user was outside the home.

“Communicating from mobile devices to a Hub over the same home network is fairly straightforward. Users in a real world environment are moving around, jumping on and off different networks making connecting difficult. That’s where PubNub comes in”, said Hank Jacobs, Lead iOS Developer at INSTEON.

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Picking PubNub

As a result, INSTEON needed a reliable and secure messaging infrastructure that would enable several different types of devices to communicate in realtime, no matter what environment the user was in. With an aggressive timeframe, INSTEON wanted to avoid building a realtime infrastructure from scratch.

“PubNub was the complete solution. We needed to move quickly and didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. PubNub provided us a one stop shop with its infrastructure, its reporting, and its monitoring, all with very high SLAs. For a company like us, PubNub was the solution we needed”, said Carlos Anchia, Director of Software Development at INSTEON.

INSTEON HUB

Instead of building out their own infrastructure, the INSTEON development team needed a messaging network with a wide variety of client SDKs, which would dramatically reduce development time and cost.

Because of PubNub’s 60+ client SDKs, INSTEON could capture all their target client platforms. This significantly reduced time of development and increased development flexibility.

“Looking at speed of development and flexibility, we evaluated other solutions, and the length of development to go from nothing to something with other platforms was huge. The simplicity and power of the PubNub system gave us a much shorter development time than any other implementation would have”, said Jacobs.

Building a Reliable Realtime Communication Layer

“Reliability is huge with home automation. You’re going from a physical light switch in a home, which every time someone turns that on, that light turns on. The same exact expectation is going to be there for home automation”, said Anchia.

INSTEON believe that both reliability and security are paramount. In looking at reliability, INSTEON needed a way to enable users to connect and trigger actions in realtime with smart devices in their home. Using PubNub Data Streams, users can communicate with the Hub, their smartphone, and physical items in their home, all in one reliable realtime communication layer.

“PubNub enables a reliable, steady pipeline of communication to our devices within the home. That’s reliable and fast communication regardless of what the environment is.  Whether you’re on your cellular data plan, where it’s maybe slow or spotty, or you’re at home, PubNub allows us to communicate the same way”, said Jacobs.

Home Automation Security

en-INTL-L-Insteon-Wifi-Camera-White-DHF-01317-RM2-mncoJust as important as reliability is security, INSTEON needed to ensure that every message sent between their client, Hub, and cloud was sent securely. With home automation solutions, secure messaging is essential.

“Security is of the utmost importance when it comes to the Internet of Things and home automation. We’re in people’s homes, and we control actual physical hardware in people’s homes”, said Anchia.

To build the highest level of security in their solution, INSTEON has implemented a number of PubNub security features for secure, realtime messaging. With PubNub’s standard AES security for each message, and PubNub Access Manager for fine grain access control, INSTEON built out a robust and secure home automation solution.

PubNub Access Manager enables developers to provide fine grain control and create individual and secure channels for realtime communication between the client, Hub and INSTEON cloud. This allows INSTEON to authenticate users and create and close private channels.

Building a Seamless User Experience

In addition to security and reliability, a seamless user experience is vital for INSTEON’s users. This means that from set-up to installation to use should all be easy and self-explanatory for the customer.

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PubNub significantly increased the ease of customer on-boarding and configuration, allowing INSTEON to work seamlessly with end user firewalls, anti-virus solutions, and home or business networks.

“When you buy something at the store, you don’t want to have to go into your router to configure the new device. You want it to join the network and have it talk like every other product. And PubNub is that for us”, said Anchia. “PubNub provides the ease of use for a low to zero network configuration at the residential site”.

Before implementing PubNub, INSTEON had over twenty customer service representatives to solve implementation and onboarding issues from customers. In implementing PubNub, customer tickets have dramatically dropped.

Using PubNub Data Streams, INSTEON streams firmware updates and device provisioning, delivering mission critical updates for app security and functionality. This includes updates for the Hub, smartphone applications, and connected devices.
“Adding PubNub’s realtime messaging network allows INSTEON to do what we do best, focus on providing world class experiences for home automation”. said Anchia.

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