Firmware for commercial open hardware products

I’d like to draw attention and solicit input on a use case that seems under served by ESPHome: as a native first class firmware for commercial products.

My impression is that ESPHome mainly caters to enthusiasts who want to build their own sensors or retrofit cloud-based products to use them with HA, where the expectation is that the user authors the configuration file.

Now think about it from the perspective of a manufacturer. I want to foster open source and privacy friendly options, but also deliver a plug-and-play experience to users on many different (cloud) platforms. Uploading custom firmware is encouraged, but only for advanced users.

ESPHome offers some compelling features, but I see many manufacturers build from scratch or fall for Tuya. What I’m looking for is an open source Tuya that is a compelling platform for businesses to build around.

I think the recent OTA platform change is a great step in this direction. It would allow me to host binaries on my servers rather than having to tell customers how to flash them manually.

I think there could be some UX improvements to make various user-specific configurations available in the captive portal. For example, setting an API secret or MQTT message broker IP.

But the biggest gap seems to be integration with cloud platforms which makes it an immediate no-go for a commercial product. There doesn’t seem to be any way to connect ESPHome devices to Google Assistant, Alexa, HomeKit, or others without going through Home Assistant (Cloud).

It seems Tasmota has better support for this by pretending to be a Hue device or via Matter. But AIUI Tasmota is in general not as suitable as a native firmware due to its GUI based configuration. Maybe I’m mistaken, or missing some other options?

Curious to hear your thoughts on first class open firmware for commercial products.

Well perhaps I missed something but that’s the first feature and very important one of HA, it doesn’t depend of any cloud or third parties ! If you want to do these you can do it still in HA but no point to do it in ESP devices themselves :wink:

For info Athom for example that sells ESPbased devices with ESPHome firmware works perfect without any cloud feature in it (all clouds things if you want them can be done in HA itself :wink:

I do see the point in cloud support. All the devices I look at on Amazon or Ali prominently list “works with” for all the cloud providers. The average user might look at your device with just one “works with HA” icon and figure it’s an under-supported outlier.

So, how would you put more “works with” labels in the ad for your ESPHome device?

One way would be to be dishonest, like many of the others. Next to “works with Alexa” you’d have an asterisk, and a note in the fine print that says something like “if you use it with HA and the Alexa integration.”

This is not a HA question. The vast majority of people do not use HA. Designing a product that only works with HA has a minuscule market. If ESPHome is only suitable for use with HA it has no place as a first class firmware for manufacturers. That’s how you end up with even European manufacturers choosing Tuya firmware for their products.

Yes, you love HA, I love HA, we all love HA, but if I’m developing a product I need a firmware that my users can use out of the box with Alexa or what have you.

ESPHome is incredibly powerful, and I believe could be a Tuya killer, but only if there is a way to provide a good out of the box experience for customers with one of the cloud based platforms.

btw I did find there is an open issue for matter support which might go a long way Matter (formerly Project CHIP / Connected Home over IP) Application Layer support in ESPHome? · Issue #1430 · esphome/feature-requests · GitHub