Technology developers, sensor and appliance manufacturers are looking with a great deal of interest at the potential of the Smart Home. In spite of numerous predictions of multi-billion dollar markets in the near future, the actual market penetration and pick up by consumers is slower than expected. Why is this?
Many Smart Home developers and manufacturers are marketing and selling sensors and devices that do a certain function or set of application functions quite well and can be monitored and managed over the web via a smart phone, tablet or other web connected device. Most of these solutions are being adopted by the so-called do-it-yourselfers and early adopters but the mainstream consumers are waiting. We see two reasons why mass adoption is slow: there is confusion about the communication standards and lack of integrated Smart Home services that matter.
Consumers do not want to be bothered by having to research which wireless connectivity technology or communication protocol they should adapt. Right now there are so many different industry organizations and large companies battling over the Smart Home communication standards that it becomes unclear if the device they buy and install today will still be supported in the future. If they buy a smart thermostat now, will it be able to communicate with the smart TV or appliances they will buy next year?
Smart Home developers need to focus more on building future-proof Smart Home solutions that will convince customers that they are buying solutions receptive to future technology changes. In order for customers to embrace new applications, device makers will have to integrate wireless connectivity chips and software that will work with a variety of communication protocols. They will have to go for a protocol-agnostic approach.
Another reason why the Smart Home revolution seems to be taking longer is that most current so-called smart devices are little more than internet-enabled remote controls. These smart devices are simply connected devices, just connecting a device to the internet so that it can be monitored and controlled by someone over the web using a smart phone is not smart. Yes, it may be convenient and time saving, but it is not “smart”.
Smart means intelligent. Smart means the device and solution can analyze the incoming data and then make a decision to control or activate a device within the home or facility – without having a human being required to press the on/off button.
Imagine the concept of a Smart Home butler, a collection of services in the home, trained to recognize what is happening in the home and to provide the appropriate action. The Smart Home butler doesn’t need to be programmed to open the door or turn on the lights, but takes action based on a self-learning behavior analysis algorithm.
This concept of a Smart Home butler translates in a network of sensors in the house that measures and monitors the environment. This can include who is in the home, where are they in the home, what is the “normal” activity in the home at that particular day and time? And then, by using intelligence and information that the system has learned about the residents, it makes a decision whether or not to open windows, turn on or off the heating, air conditioning, lights or entertainment system, to activate the security system, etc. If there is a leak in the water system, it turns off the water and notifies a repair person.
Opposed to today’s connected device, a Smart Home butler system will have a wide range of connected sensor types, connectivity to a hub or gateway and cloud intelligence that gathers and analyzes this input. It then learns how their family works, what their schedule is, and then acts as the home guardian, ensuring the family’s safety, security and comfort.
It is time to take a new look at how our technology industry approaches. By giving consumers what they want; future-proof, effective and scalable solutions instead of DIY things, our tech industry can further accelerate the growth of “smart” into the world, thereby making our lives safer, more efficient and more comfortable; all for less cost.