Doing research on professional monitoring services (in the US), some/many services claim 3rd party devices can be connected to their service. But it's unclear to me what level of functionality from 3rd party devices is provided from the monitoring service'/system's human interface (H/IF)?

To help visualizing where I am, my understanding is that majority of the home automation systems consist of a central control unit (I guess different vendors call it differently), and the sensors and actuation (alarm, lights etc.) connect to the central unit. This simple diagram from ece.cornell.edu depicts well (despite it looks like a student project):

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Does "3rd party device integration" mean either one of the following, or else?

  • Opt-a. Have the 3rd party device be connected to the device network (via e.g. Z-wave, Zigbee etc.)
  • Opt-b. Show the status of the 3rd party device. E.g. sensory output if it's a sensor. Action status if it's an actuation module.
  • Opt-c. Control the 3rd party device.
  • Opt-d. Have the devices connect to task automation service (e.g. ifttt) via the home automation network (so that you can included your 3rd party devices in your home automation recipes more seamlessly).

My guess is that it's mostly Opt-a, as Opt-b thru d would require custom interfaces depending on the implementation of each 3rd party device? Say for example, I have a 3rd party humidity sensor and garage door opener that I want to hook to my home security system. Humidity sensor and garage door opener may not be the most common functionalities that the lots of home security service supports as of today. So (unfortunately) it makes sense if my home security central system doesn't provide the specific H/IF for humidity sensor and garage door controller.

(In my previous home I had alarm.com, which did support garage door controller so I was able to use garage-door specific H/IF, i.e. it showed the status (opened/closed), and allow us to control (open/close). So in this case Opt-a thru c were covered. But I assume that was rather exceptional).

UPDATE 20210730: Talked to a sales person from ring.com. They have a list of certified devices (support.ring.com) that ring.com supports not just device status but also provides control interface. I'd say the list is not long at all, and the type of the devices are limited to a few categories (light, power outlet, siren etc.), but it's great they certify these.

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    I'm no expert in this. So, take this with a pinch of salt. Many systems will allow 3rd party video cameras because there is a standard for this. Other than that, there are some niche providers that integrate complete "smart home" systems. For eg: Control4 . There's probably more ways "3rd party" can be achieved, as you mentioned. These things have evolved over 20 years and there's more to go. Security companies that charge a fee like to mostly do their own thing since it is harder to support 3rd party devices. Found more in DIY-land. Jul 26 '21 at 19:57
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    I’m pretty sure this is very specific to each system. They need to spell out clearly what 3rd party devices they support and for what purposes, or what external interfaces they support (may be ifttt, or any MQTT broker, or webhooks, or generic or specific APIs…). You cannot guess anything, it may even be “oh sure we can connect to anything as long as you pay for the associated custom development”.
    – jcaron
    Jul 27 '21 at 18:40
  • Thanks for the comments. I think both got the points, and your comments made me realize that I might have asked an open-ended question (no 1-to-1 answer). I'm inclined to agree with @jcaron that it might be up to each service provider (I just confirmed with ring.com, which I added in my OP).
    – IsaacS
    Aug 1 '21 at 2:05

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