What’s Driving Home Automation? – Forbes
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Mike Krell is an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy covering the Internet of Things (IoT).
Iâ€™ve been thinking a lot lately about what exactly is driving the recent explosion of home automation applications and equipment. Over the past few years we have seen a great deal of change. The plethora of equipment includes (and this is a small sample, not an exhaustive list):
Do it yourself systems
- Iris from Lowe’s Cos Lowe’s Cos
- SmartThings (owned now by Samsung Electronics Samsung Electronics)
- Wink from Wink, Inc.
- iSmartAlarmÂ from iSmart Alarm, Inc.
- Piper from Icontrol Networks, Inc.
- XFINITY Home from Comcast Comcast
- IntelligentHome from Time Warner Cable Time Warner Cable
- ADT PulseÂ from ADT ADT
- Digital LifeÂ from AT&T AT&T
- Home LifeÂ from Cox Communications Cox Communications
Point solutions (NOTE: many can be integrated into both types of systems)
- Plugs / Switches: Belkin International, Inc. WeMo;Â D-LinkÂ Corporation
- Lightbulbs: Philips PhilipsÂ hue;Â LiFi Labs, Inc. LIFX
- Thermostats: Nest Labs, Inc. Nest Learning Thermostat;Â Honeywell International Honeywell InternationalÂ Prestige
- Cameras: Nest Labs, Inc.Â Nest Cam;Â Withings, Inc. Home
- Locks: August Smart Lock;Â Kwikset Kevo;Â GojiÂ Smart Lock
Not to mention the proliferation of consumer-facing standards in the home market:Â Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Thread, and HomeKit (and the further downstream like Works with Nest, Open Interconnect Consortium and Allseen Alliance). With all this going on, who can tell â€œWhoâ€™s on First?â€ (Abbot and Costello).
What I want to know is what is driving all this real and potential growth? I got a glimpse at some data that gave me a few clues last week, with the release of a report commissioned by Icontrol Networks, Inc., the 2015 State of the Smart Home Report. For those unfamiliar with Icontrol Networks, they are an intelligent smart home platform provider behind some of the major installer-based systems, including XFINITY, Pulse, IntelligentHome, and Home Life. In addition, they have two products in the consumer channel, peq and Piper.
The report is not focused on vendors but rather on what makes the Smart Home tick. Things that marketers think aboutâ€“like what applications are driving growth, who is buying, what channels they use to make their purchasesâ€“are all discussed. A few of the insights I gleaned from the report include:
- Security is the main reason people start looking for home solutions
- The potential of cost savings in energy is starting to take hold
- Ease-of-use trumps technology
- The under-45 set prefers to shop at a security company, technology company, or repair store (note the missing cable or telco)
- Consumers want smart devices that automate themselves
That last item, â€œConsumers want smart devices that automate themselvesâ€ is the most interesting concept to me. With all this discussion of consumers wanting to interact with â€œthingsâ€, when asked what they really want, consumers most desire things that donâ€™t require any interaction.
- Vacation or away modesÂ Like my Nest Thermostat, where the device knows I am away and acts accordingly: turn up or down thermostat, sets lighting, alarms, motion detectors, etc.
- Set-it-and-forget-it itemsÂ Turn on my outside lights at dusk and off at sunrise, water on a schedule except when it rains.
- Motion detectionÂ Turn on lights when I enter a room, unlock a door when I get close.
All these items require little to no interaction but can make a big difference in quality of life. They are associated with the main drivers of security and energy savings; in addition, all of these applications require data, applications, and sensors to work together to allow devices to work on their own.
I believe in these concepts and how they should affect decisions about what products and services home automation providers develop in the future. I donâ€™t see change the color of my lights, spend lots of time fiddling with my stereo system, or watch my IP camera as drivers. What I do see is making home automation products and services simple and intuitive to setup and use.
Make it work on its own, and notify me if I need to do something. Set it, and forget it.
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Disclosure: My firm, Moor Insights & Strategy, like all research and analyst firms, provides or has provided research, analysis, advising, and/or consulting to many high-tech companies in the industry, includingÂ thoseÂ cited in this article. I do not hold any equity positions with any companies cited in this column.
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