Reimagining the connected home
The Connected Home of the future provides numerous solutions for safety and security, energy management and monitoring, health and wellness, and smartphones.
Nicholas Langston, Senior Manager, Business Development, Communications Solutions
The Connected Home of the future is a brilliant, shining example of modern opportunity and convenience. One can imagine a residence that knows and understands us as individuals and protects one’s family with a level of depth that reflects the connected-ness of the rest of our lives. A garage door that automatically opens as one approaches, doors that unlock upon arrival, lighting that sets itself based on the time of day, and a thermostat that adjusts to maintain the preferred temperature. These conveniences are part of a long-promised future that are only just beginning to be realized. From Silicon Valley garages to corporate innovation centers, a staggering variety of innovative and break-through products and services are being created. All products seeking just the right application and use case to drive adoption into the tens and hundreds of millions of units.
This scenario is just starting to be played out in the market. Although the connected home’s killer application has yet to be discovered there are some very clear trends that can help product developers, strategists and entrepreneurs align themselves with the maturing consumers.
Safety and Security
Consumers today are most interested in purchasing connected products that allow them to feel safer at home. There are a wide variety of products on the market today to address this need with a varying level of success. Smart smoke detectors like those from Halo Smart Labs have quickly gained traction by allowing mobile users to know about an issue even when they’re away from home. Video doorbells like the Skybell or smart lock systems like August are bringing connectivity to the front door and allow owners to see who is at the door without having to be there. Some of these devices can also provide access to individuals with customized permissions (between 3 and 4 pm or on Wednesdays only, etc.) External and internal video monitoring systems like Netgear’s Arlo system or Google’s Nest (formerly Dropcam) system also take advantage of the smartphone as a remote monitor. A Nest user can be anywhere in the world that has internet access and see in real time what is happening in their home. Even insurance companies see the benefit these new products can offer. Liberty Mutual recently launched an incubator called Solaria Labs to examine the potential benefits new products and services can deliver to the connected home.
Energy Management and Monitoring
Attitudes about climate change combined with increasing utility costs are driving consumers to conserve resources. Companies like Ecobee and Nest have developed smart thermostats to optimize heating and cooling within the home. Other companies like Rachio and Edyn have developed smart sprinkler systems that can take into consideration the soil conditions, weather forecasts, and even a consumer’s target spending per month. As society becomes more eco-conscious consumers can expect to see products and companies like these find a lucrative market and consumers that are ready to support them.
Health and Wellness
While smartwatches and activity monitors have emerged to help us quantify our health throughout the day, a new segment of connected products are emerging that are used within the home exclusively. Smart bedding such as the SmartMotion bed from BeautyRest or Beddit’s sleep tracking device offer new insight into a common activity. Other products such as Withing’s connected BodyCardio scale offers detailed information about overall health indicators. Within the health and wellness segment we also see smart appliances and gadgets emerging for use in the kitchen. The smart scale from San Francisco’s startup, Drop, works with a smartphone app to help users make perfect meals by measuring the exact amount of ingredients, ensuring that nutritional content is matched correctly. Hestan Cue’s connected saute pan and burner will help ensure that dishes are prepared perfectly every time.
No single piece of technology has made more of an impact on modern life than the smartphone. It’s estimated that there will be nearly three billion smartphones in use in 2017; they are ubiquitous in the developed world. Consumer’s reliance on smartphones as a central point of communication and information will hold true in the connected home era. It would be too much to say that every connected home device or service will require an app, but the value of these new products must be tangible to a mobile user. The most successful products currently have made use of the smartphone’s ability to provide real-time information .For that reason, integration with smartphones, tablets and perhaps even wearable devices is critical to success for any connected home product allowing access to information about our homes while residents are away.
The connected home is just beginning its evolution and we can be certain that it is still unclear what products will drive the highest adoption with consumers. However, it’s clear that products which address the basic concerns of security, health and resource management will be among the most valuable to consumers all while utilizing smart phone capabilities.