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What to Call Home Automation: CEA Survey Says ‘Home Monitoring’

'Smart home' used to be the term that most resonated with consumers, but new CEA research suggests 'home monitoring' is the best term to describe home automation.


How the heck should you describe your home automation business?

We have a strange industry that’s hard to describe. My elevator pitch is this: I am a magazine editor. I write about smart home technology, like home theaters, lighting controls, security and home automation.

I might rethink this pitch, though. About seven years ago, the Consumer Electronics Association surveyed consumers about this thing that we know as home systems integration, asking them what term best described this concept.

The answer was “smart home.” That is the term that most resonated with consumers.

I advised dealers to use that term as a result of the survey, and I began using it myself.

Fast forward to now, and the latest CEA research suggests that “home monitoring” is the term that makes sense to consumers.

Of the respondents who were already familiar with the concept of home systems, 75% thought “home monitoring” described it well, compared to 62% for smart home, 55% for home automation and 53% for connected home.

Home monitoring won by an even larger margin among respondents who were not already familiar with the concept of the integrated home. “Home monitoring” resonated with 52% of these respondents, compared to 32% for “smart home.”

We might have an industry term to describe our trade – like electronic systems contractor (ESC) or home technology integrator (my preferred term) – but let’s consider terms that are most readily understood by consumers.

If you’re keeping score
, here’s what some of the big brands call their home integration offerings:

ADT Pulse
Xfinity Home (changed from Comcast/Xfinity Home Security; tagline: Your total home security and home control solution)
Vivint (no brand for offering but calls it “comprehensive security and home automation”)
Time Warner Cable IntelligentHome
Verizon Home Monitoring & Control
AT&T Digital Life
Honeywell Total Connect
URC Total Control
Cox Home Security

Source: Consumer Electronics Association: Consumer Perspective on Home Automation

: CEA: 67% of Consumers Want Professional Home Automation Installation

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Article Topics

News · Business Resources · Research · Home Automation and Control · Cea · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

11 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by dh  on  11/19  at  11:37 AM

“for $4000 we can install a HoMo system in your home”

uhhh no

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  11/19  at  01:23 PM

hmmm ... that could be a problem.

Posted by Phil Melton  on  11/20  at  07:28 AM

What’s wrong with simply using “home control system?” The term home monitoring is clunky, with too many syllables, and only describes one aspect of what a comprehensive home control system provides.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  11/20  at  08:09 AM

Yeah, CEA missed a couple of good terms. Home control is one of them. Home technology also. I assume these were weeded out for some reason.

Posted by Verizon FiOS  on  11/20  at  02:33 PM

Looks like we picked a great name for our Home Monitoring and Controls. Thanks for the shout out, Julie.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  11/20  at  03:42 PM

I was thinking the same thing, Verizon. But wait a couple of years ... it’ll be something totally different!

Posted by dh  on  11/20  at  03:52 PM

verizon can name its software:
Computerized Home Environment and Energy Service Endpoint and then they can update their collateral to offer


Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  11/20  at  04:00 PM

I would prefer Cloud Home Electronics, Energy, Security, Environment, but yeah, HMAC & CHEESE makes a lot of sense.

Posted by Rob  on  11/20  at  05:07 PM

Why is an iPhone called an iPhone. I use it for everything else more than a phone, yet it’s still an iPhone. Not a pocket computer, handheld web device, pocket tablet, game, camera ....

It’s because that’s the way it’s MARKETED. Apple says it’s a phone, so everyone knows it as an iPhone.

We in the industry can’t even agree on what to call ourselves, never mind what we do. And we wonder why the consumers are confused? We need a group to standardize things, to educate the public, to… oh never mind someone tried that once and it didn’t work out, CEDIA.

Posted by Bob Sutton  on  11/21  at  01:08 PM

OK, the HoMo is a definite problem with a large portion of our customer base, and home monitoring is definitely a small portion of what we do, but the important lesson is that Home Monitoring is what the customers are currently identifying with.  We might want to try to change what the consumer perception is, but that is a theme for a marketing campaign (Think Happy Cows and “Pork - The Other White Meat), not a strategy for selling our current products and services. 

We need to recognize that Home Monitoring is the portion of our business that CURRENTLY resonates with the customer base, and tailor our services to that while at the same time seeking to educate and expand the perceptions that our customers have.

Posted by 39CentStamp  on  11/30  at  05:51 AM

I use the term Electronic Systems Integrator (the installer) or Electronic System Integration (the profession/trade). We integrate the clients electronic systems.

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