Thursday, 3 April 2014

Play the Connected Home mix?

With so many different pieces of software, hardware, architecture, devices, and technology available right now for the Connected Home/Internet of Things, it’s hard to know what the right mix is.

Here is what the connected home looks like now!

Or as this journalist so eloquently put it;
‘It’s ironic that home automation, which promises to simplify our daily lives, is such a massively complex market, with hundreds of competing products, disparate standards, interoperability concerns, and more’.

So the ‘trillion’ dollar question then at the moment is “what will the home owner go for?”

We said ‘trillion’ because that’s what the Internet of Things will soon be valued at. Its projected to be valued at a lazy $8.89 trillion by 2020 see here for more.

Ok, we’ll the Connected Home is only a small piece of that Internet of Things ‘trillion dollar pie’ -  it will be valued at a modest $357 billion by 2020 see here  for more.

The other ‘trillion’ dollar question is “will the home owner go for what is forced down their throats?”

AT&T, Cisco, GE, IBM and Intel know that there are so many different combinations and permutations for the connected home right now, so they’re coming together to define what they think the best mix is. They’re doing this through the formation of the ‘Industrial Internet Consortium’ ICC. 

Last Thursday an announcement was made about the ICC, a non-profit group that will work to ‘identify requirements for open interoperability standards and define common architectures to connect smart devices, machines, people, processes and data’. See more here.

Let’s hope these big powerhouses can work together to define the best, safest, and most efficient mixes based on what actually is the best, safest and most efficient.

We don’t want the tech powerhouses to set the standards for the mix based on the most profits they stand to all make, and force something down our throats that we don’t want, or do we?

In the meantime, as the mix of standards are being set, it’s really all about speculation at the moment. Its all about trial and error to find that right mix. 

Service providers, telcos and vendors are trialing different products, mixes, and partnerships to see what hits and what misses.

And as the battle rages on for the connected home, there will be plenty of journalists and commentators quickly jumping to conclusions about what the right mix is.

For example it was claimed in this article here that NFC is non-factor in the smart home mix.

NFC - in or out of the mix?

Here is what Michael Wolf from said;

“Taking a brief survey of the smart home landscape, it doesn’t appear that there is much traction for NFC.  In 2011 Yale, one of the big-three lock makers, announced they would integrate NFC into one their electronic locks and even demoed it at CES 2013, but they never released a NFC-integrated lock and based on my conversations with the company, it doesn’t look like one is imminent”.

Perhaps it’s a non-factor in the smarthome mix as we’re getting something else being forced down our throats?

Yale, owned by the world number 1 lock manufacturer Assa Abloy, certainly have been busy of late forming partnerships with other companies going into the Connected Home space, to deliver a wi-fi/hub connected lock.

Here you can see Yale with AT&T’s home control package.

Here is Yale partnering with Staples to connected with their ‘connected hub’. 

Is this starting to feel like a ‘forcing down your throat situation yet?’

What other choices do we have for the connected lock? Not many at the moment– there are a few locks from Schlage and Kwikset, but that's about it.

Also, did you notice something else about all those locks? Did you like their design?

Or perhaps it’s true that NFC is really trash, and it should be chucked out of the connected home?

On the other hand, NFC in a lock (as part of a greater tech mix) might actually be a safer, more efficient mix? It might be cheaper, and offer better design, and offer more functions than the wi-fi/hub connected lock?

The consumer may actually prefer a NFC mix lock to a wi-fi/hub mix lock, but how will we ever know that if the consumer is never actually offered an alternative?

What’s possibly an even worse situation is that the Industrial Internet Consortium makes decisions not on science, reason and facts, but on the power of big business instead.

Let’s hope the ICC gets it right.

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