Alarm.coms approach to interoperability relies on its cloud service. _Our system consists of communication devices that go in the home, a cloud service connects all the different elements and cuts rules and automation for the hub to bring them all together, and apps to make management and operation simple for users,î Jay Kenny, VP of Marketing at Alarm.com.
The devices dont have to talk to each other in the house. The door sensors talk to the hub through radio waves; the door lock and thermostat through Z-Wave, Kenny continued. _They dont talk to each other, but our system can talk to them in a choreographed way, so if you open the door system, the thermostat can adjust, for example.î
Kenny provided another example, _Our video cameras connect over broadband. They dont talk to the other devices, but theyre aware of whats going on the house because they talk to our service. The devices dont necessarily talk to each other, but they can do intelligent rules because they talk to our cloud service.î
Cloud services also allow device makers to offer more advanced features that may not be possible when limited to the hardware of a single device, especially when the device itself has limited processing powerÜsensors, for example. With richer features, device makers can also differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market, said Dirk Wyckoff, VP of Sales and Marketing at UniKey. _These technologies are enabling us to succeed in a demanding environment.î
It is, however, important that users do not lose the ability to control their devices even when their Internet connection at home is down. The advantage of a point-to-point solution is that if the Internet goes down, the system will still function; when you press the light switch, the lights will go off, because it does not depend on an Internet connection, said Bob Cooper, CMO at Zonoff.
_Even in 2014, broadband service in the U.S.A. still isnt 100 percent reliable all the time. Most people, even with some form of broadband, dont realize its not always consistent or reliable. Downtime of less than a minute may not be a big deal when web surfing, but it matters when you come home late at night and your lights dont work. We believe a home automation solution needs to work even when the Internet is slow or down,î Cooper continued. _When Staples Connect customers are inside their home using a smartphone or tablet, they connect to the hub via their home WiFi network. When they are outside the home, they connect via their cellular network, through the cloud, to the hub,î Cooper said.
The key factors for a successful cloud service are scalability, latency, security, and reliability, which are also the some of the biggest challenges in making cloud software, Cooper said.
Internet Connectivity = Security Issues
Any device that connects to the Internet is bound to have vulnerabilities, especially when manufacturers are inexperienced in making these types of devices or deliberately neglect security to cut costs.
_First and foremost, security aspects cannot be compromised, and I cant stress how intricate those elements are. Opening a door with a mobile device is one thing, opening it without vulnerabilities is another,î Wyckoff said. _Our product has been on the market for four months and has been publicly declared attack against by the black hat community. This speaks volumes about our architecture and implementation. This element is so often overlooked in the Internet of Things, but when you couple this to the access to your home, security cannot be compromised in any fashion.î
While some try to argue that tighter security impacts user exerience, it is not necessarily a zero-sum game. _We believe that security is the responsibility of the device manufacturer, and at Blacksumac we take security very seriously,î said Russell Ure, CEO and co-founder of Blacksumac. _Security problems are due to poor testing and poorly defined internal test programs rather than a result of improved usability.î
Exciting thing ahead…
At the moment, device makers and service providers are still trying to come up with a compelling scenario that will convert even non-believers. Five years from now, every device will be connected; for the next two to three years, manufactures of different products will continue to learn and experiment, Kenny said. _I think there is a very clear path. Everything in the house will be connected, and were at the very early stages of understanding how these devices can connect to each other and what they can do with that connectivity.î