Home, Smart Home?
Smart homes are all the rage at the moment. At CES this year smart home products and technologies received significant media attention, with solutions ranging from smart light bulbs to appliances and even a Bluetooth-enabled pressure cooker. Coupled with that, the ‘Internet of Things’, ie the notion of connecting normally unconnected ‘things’ to the Internet and having them communicate with one another without human intervention, is something that, when applied to the home, could have tremendous implications: energy and cost savings, lifestyle efficiency gains as well as social implications in the way we are able to share and participate in content with each other. The aforementioned pressure cooker describes the atmosphere surrounding the smart home perfectly; excitement is building and new, innovative products are being released into the market with each passing day. The question is, will the cooker’s whistle be sounding anytime soon, or will we have to wait a little longer for consumers to start buying into this concept? One indication that things are ready to take off is the entrance of CE giant Samsung into the fray, having recently announced its Smart Home platform at the event amidst much fanfare; its solution aims to enable seamless device discovery and control across a whole range of connected devices, controlled through a simple mobile device app. The deal-breaker? At this point in time, only Samsung-branded products will be visible to the platform thanks to a proprietary communications protocol developed by the manufacturer. Samsung claims that the platform will eventually reach devices from other manufacturers, presumably through the release of an API. Nevertheless, its initial approach represents one of the overriding issues affecting the smart home at the moment: how many consumers are willing to restrict their options? Choice, convenience and perceived value are the order of the day when it comes to today’s consumer; the brand and its cost serves little more than a benchmark from which to gauge how much can, or should be spent. So what are we left with? Devices connect, but they won’t connect together, and they won’t talk to each other. Sounds like a typical 2.5 household to me. The smart home is here, as our new report observes, but it ain’t that smart yet - just more informed than it used to be. Collaboration between stakeholders is key in order for all of these devices, appliances and platforms to function together: mix that with a pinch of intelligent processing in the background and that pressure cooker will be letting your TV (and you) know: the smart home is ready.