Categories for Devices

Two weeks ago, a staff member from Sense reached out to me directly for feedback on my experience as a Sense customer. She spent 15 minutes on the phone with me, which is yet another reason I love Sense. When was that last time that Sony, GE or Frigidaire called to ask about your user experience?

One of her questions was if I had suggestions for product improvement. I told her I would like to be able to categorize devices. The purpose of this post is to document that suggestion here on the community so other people can add their input. ‘Like’ this post to encourage Sense to work on this idea, or add your own thoughts below!


Sense already has six device categories. The image above is from the ‘Type’ field under Name on the Device Settings tab. I was thinking of user-defined categories, but expanding the usage of these already-defined categories would be almost as good.

Categories could show up as colors on the power plot, as described at Stacked power plot for Always-on, ID's appliances, and other? - #31 by jefflayman and at Multi-color "Now" chart with shading under the curve based on device

Categories could show up as a tree view on the devices tab as described at I would like the ability to break device components into a tree under the main device, or as bubble groupings, I would like the ability to break device components into a tree under the main device - #4 by Jorge

Categories would be most beneficial in the Trends view, where people evaluate usage patterns. I did this on my own using Excel, and posted the results at The first 3 months - #4 by jefflayman

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[NOTE: @brian.chatagnier wrote the note below in place of the original post instead of replying to it. He apologized and said the change was accidental. I restored the post.]

I like this idea, although I don’t think I’d put it at the top of my wish list.

I might be thinking of it slightly differently, but I view it as a grouping with subtotals. For example, I would have a “Cooking” group that would contain my oven, stove, microwave, toaster, etc.

For what is worth, I think it’s a great idea but it comes with a huge caveat… If Sense doesn’t accurately and fully discover all the devices, is it worth it? If you were the product owner (visionary point person) would you focus dev time on grouping before discovery?

If for example it discovered my fridge, toaster, oven and coffee machine but didn’t discover my cooktop and microwave, I’ll never know what my total “cooking” category truly is. Or does Sense already have this idea in the works by asking the location of the device. Is it cooking we are looking for or just “kitchen”?

In general most smart home hubs, which is what Sense could be considered in a quasi way (monitoring and control of multiple devices), group by location of the device. This is true for smartthings, Google home, Alexa, Hubitat and HA.

I would love to hear from a Sense employee as to the reason we have location, since it’s not used in any way other than a label.

@jefflayman I would love to hear your opinion.

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Thanks for requesting my opinion, @DevOpsTodd. It is nice to see how fully you participate in this community, especically as a new member. Since this is my first time communicating directly with you, here is my personal welcome. Your contributions are a big asset, thank you!

I think of Other as its own category. Here is how I rationalize that: not knowing the details of Other does not take away from the knowledge that I do have about everything else. The trend I hope to see over the long term in the Other category is that Other gets smaller and smaller as devices are identified, until it one day disappears. Until then, however, I still want to benefit by finding trends in the rest of my data. Categories help me do that.

I have 18 Kasa plugs, 16 Hue lights, 15 detected devices, plus Always On and Other which everyone automatically gets. That is over 50 devices! (I’ve said before how important integrations are for me – only one-third of these devices are native.) I’m not smart enough to perform mental math with this many items! That is why I ask Sense for help.

You mention developer time, and I know that is an issue. I trust Sense to strike the right balance on that. They know that discovery is important, and have said repeatedly that it is their top priority. They also know, however, that raw data isn’t very useful, and they have produced a wonderful app to help us all interact with their gizmo. The ‘Product Wishlist’ on this forum gives us a place to express what we hope might be added to their lineup, and it is in that context which I express my desire for categories.

Regarding the field in the Sense app for location, I always assumed that was to help users. It certainly helps me! When I see the location label next to the device name, I more quickly visualize the appliance/device in question.

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@jefflayman thanks for the kind words and let me touch on that for a second. I was previously a product owner for an agile team of software developers. I was the guy who always responded “no” and my devs knew that if they waited a day I might say “wait a minute there might be something there”. Kinda like a devils advocate, but also to make the team re-think things as well. Since no one here personally knows me and because there’s no emotion conveyed in a forum, please don’t take my questioning of ideas as a notion that I don’t think they’re valid. It’s my way of putting my thoughts out there so others can mull them over. Sometimes I hit a nail on the head and sometimes I’m off in left field. So even though I would tell my team “No” I would turn around and take them all to lunch immediately after.

Back to your topic. I get the desire to know what everything is. I have about the same amount of devices through integration 28 hue and 19 Kasa. My sadness lies in the detected at 1. The Kasa devices I purchased last week just because I want the same as you, to see it all!

When I read your post I thought that’s a great idea, but wait… Even if I did have a “cooking” category, I wouldn’t have anything to put in it :cry: :panda_face:

That led me to wonder why we have locations. So that was the crux of my post. What are the locations for Sense? Because I could create 10 different locations in my Kitchen and call one cooking, another lighting, another RO etc etc. But what good would it be?

You idea of categorizing made me think that maybe this is what Sense plans on already by using the locations since they don’t seem to have any purpose (although you mentioned that they help you visually).

So in a nut shell, I love the idea, but wonder if this was already on the roadmap in another form.

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@jefflayman @DevOpsTodd this type of detection would require us to reexamine how we detect devices today, most likely expanding beyond our real-time detection methodology into a historical view. Our Data Science team is actively researching how we’d best approach something like mentioned in this original post. George and Ghinwa highlight what we’re calling “Progressive Device Detection” in the Data Science video from February, starting at the 10:30 mark here:

2021 Data Science Update - YouTube

I understand it’s a little vague on what this will look like and entail, but as soon as we have more information we’ll share it with folks here.

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@JustinAtSense, thanks for your response. I am thrilled to know that you are active on something similar to what I requested!

I would like to clarify my request slightly, as your response mentions detection in the same breath. What I am requesting is only within the app; no change is requested on the back end. I am only requesting a new way of displaying data that has already been collected.

The categories I request are simply groups of one or more devices. In my own case, I have assigned each of my 50+ devices to one of nine groups. Some groups have a lot of devices, some only one. For example, my Lighting group has all the Hue devices plus any lights I have on smart strips or natively detected bulbs, whereas my Unknown group just has Other.

I’m sorry that my opening post was not clear in what I wanted. In trying to give you flexibitly in how you implement the suggestion, apparently I was too vague.

I definitely see what you’re talking about now, appreciate the clarification. It sounds like this is requesting the ability to nest devices into groups in the app (I can think of “drag-and-drop” features in other apps that might accomplish this). I believe this has already been requested, but pertains more to the bubbles. I’ll see if it makes sense to merge these: Nested Bubbles?

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