The concept of the connected home and IoT (Internet of Things) has exploded into the public consciousness as few technologies have before. The number of households with some form of smart home system is set to surpass 100 million worldwide by the end of 2015 and nearly triple in the next ten years’ time to over 300 million.
Such is the speed of growth – and certainly the hype – that it is no surprise the current early adopter market is fragmented at best, with a slew of technologies, platforms and standalone concepts battling for consumer acceptance. These range from IP camera solutions to smart lighting systems and thermostats, and digital door locks. However, to date many of these do not integrate with other devices and so limit the potential customer value.
Another challenge is the diversity of wireless protocols standards from ZigBee, Bluetooth Smart and Wi-Fi Direct to proprietary – Z-Wave and HomeMatic – all fighting to be the standard for the connected home. While different technical approaches may help to cover off different application scenarios in the most hygienic way possible, the challenge increases as the range of incompatible technologies grows.
Keeping our options open
A platform-based open ecosystem approach brings with it an immense number of advantages and a move towards this will be one of the major ‘shakeout’ evolutionary moments of the IoT market. Standardised platform approaches inherently mean that a de facto standard is being followed by adherents, which not only inspires consumer confidence in interoperability and consistency but also offers significant cost savings for manufacturers. In addition, the fully connected nature of the smart home depends on this interoperability, in that no new consumer hardware is necessarily required for each new use case. The same sensors can be used for a number of things, from security and safety to energy management.
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