For the connected home to be realized, devices need some way to exchange data. This can be achieved at the device level, through a hub, or through a cloud service. Many manufactures have their own ecosystems of connected devices, but this is a barrier for wider adoption. There are also multiple proprietary and open protocols that are widely adopted by the industry for use in connected devicesÜthe problem is, users have to go through hoops to make them work together.
Interoperability is essential for the smart appliance industry because consumers want to have the flexibility to buy best-of-breed appliances and have them work together, said Bob Dahlberg, VP of Business Development at Arrayent.
In the case of Blacksumacs popular security and home automation unit Piper, which reached three times its original funding goal on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, Z-Wave was the optimal protocol. _Most users know very little or nothing about smart home technologies, and we wanted to give of users the broadest range of interoperable smart home accessories to make learning about it easy for them. Z-wave offers our users with a huge range of choices and from a large group of manufactures,î said Russell Ure, CEO and co-founder of Blacksumac.
Alarm.coms system is more holistic, working with Z-Wave, ZigBee and Wi- Fi devices. However, not all protocols are created equal. _The main difference for us when we evaluated the protocols available on the market is that Z-Wave had more of a standards approach to their protocol. If you integrated a Z-Wave chip into your solution, anything that is Z-Wave will work,î said Jay Kenny, VP of Marketing at Alarm.com.
ZigBee, on the other hand, has many more variations; different ZigBee devices may run different _flavorsî of ZigBee, Kenny said. _There isnt a standardization of the protocol. It is more like an open-source code base that people modify and use.î
Wi-Fi devices can be even trickier, since some manufacturers, such as Nest and Sonos, do not officially give third parties access to their APIs. Solutions like Revolv work around this by reverse-engineering the APIs of popular devices made by these companies. However, this approach means that users will be shut out if these manufacturers push out a software update to their devices, Bob Cooper, CMO at Zonoff.
In contrast, Staple Connects approach is to form partnerships directly with device makers. _Staples Connect is targeting the mass market consumer and we are focused on building the broadest and most compelling ecosystem for devices. As such, it is important for us to give consumers assurances that the devices included in the ecosystem are done so in an official capacity, with the manufacturers a core part of the experience,î Cooper continued. _At a high level, the more devices we can embrace and bring in to this solution, the better it is for consumers. However, were sticking to our model where we work with premium brands consumers know and trust, while also keeping the ecosystem open for new, compelling and emerging companies as well.î
Standards make for lower cost implementations, since the learning curve is not as steep; it is also easier to create systems in which products from multiple manufacturers work together. On the other hand, proprietary systems afford advantages such as longer range (1W 900MHz networks can go over a mile) and plug-and-play installation and provisioning, Dahlberg said.
It is unlikely that all manufacturers will
collaborate to interoperate in the home by agreeing to adopt the same communication protocol, but interoperability can be achieved relatively easier in the cloud. _Arrayent already has a customer, Chamberlain, that connects its LiftMaster branded garage door openers to an Alarm.com home security app via cloud- to-cloud integration,î Dahlberg said.