Here is my ideal smart lighting system:

  1. Lights turn on and off as you enter/leave rooms.
  2. Lights in rooms visible from my current room are on (maybe dimmed).
  3. Lights adjust their intensity based on ambient conditions. If the sun is shining brightly through the windows, they dim, but you don’t notice because the overall level of light in the room doesn’t change.
  4. Lights adjust their color temperature gradually at sunrise/sunset.
  5. Exterior lights turn on at night and, if the house is empty, some interior lights as well.

In short, to the occupant it would appear that the lights in every room were just always on and set to a pleasant, consistent brightness. The system makes sure that the lights are off inoccupied rooms.

This is all in addition to the general rules of home automation:

  1. Nothing unexpected happens. You’re never sitting in a room and have the lights turn off because the clock ticked over.
  2. Guests understand how to “use” the house. Light and lamp switches turn work as expected, overriding automation rules if necessary.
  3. You never have to talk to the house.
  4. Everything degrades intuitively so that lights don’t turn on unexpectedly after a power failure or cease to function when the internet is down.
  5. Ideally no light bulb, lamp, or switch is connected directly to the internet. They network locally and talk to a hub which is the single point of security concern.

I’m not aware of an existing system that does all of this. It would require infrared occupation sensors in every room (not just motion), ambient light sensors on every bulb, and better software to manage it than is available at present.