The home security and home automation industries didn’t change too much for their first three decades, but over the past three years, new technologies and business models have upended traditional practices in these sectors.
In a Webinar on Thursday, Nov. 9, we will discuss new trends, themes and opportunities in these industries – with today and a one-year timeframe in mind, not some future era.
As a preview, here are three of the issues I’ll be discussing with Avi Rosenthal, principal of IoT Consulting LLC and a former security dealer, home-tech integrator and manufacturer.
Open vs. Closed Ecosystems
Traditionally, both security dealers and smart-home integrators have worked with relatively closed ecosystems. Connectivity and reliability were almost assured because devices came from a single manufacturer or its close partners.
Today, however, open APIs and standards-based systems invite more interoperability from a vast array of vendors. Goody for opening the ecosystem, but it comes at a price: consumer confusion, challenging tech-support and a potentially worse user experience.
Over the past few years, many have taken the middle ground with a “curated” ecosystem, supporting only those attachments vetted in the labs or endowed with some special piece of software/firmware that guaranties reliable interoperability. Apple is famous for this. Comcast takes this approach. Amazon is now employing the model for its Echo Plus system, supporting a small but growing roster of third-party ZigBee devices.
Cloud vs. Fog
Even though Icontrol and Alarm.com launched their cloud-based security and home-automation platforms some 20 years ago, the cloud wasn’t really a “thing” until the Nest thermostat arrived in 2011. Now everyone’s using the cloud, often as the primary “central controller” for security and automation. Nest, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Ring and numerous camera manufacturers have done virtually all of their integrations, reporting and storage through the cloud.
But we might be going back to the good ol’ days where more stuff happened locally – video storage, device communications, alarm reporting to the central station, and more. This is known as “fog” communications – like a cloud, but on the ground.
The big benefit of fog-enabled ecosystems is they don’t require full-time Internet connectivity, and they usually quell the latency introduced by cloud communications. Although it’s not always the case, many consumers view local communications as more secure than Internet-reliant services.
We are seeing a definite shift to the fog in terms of home control, and we expect a return to local storage for surveillance systems.
Insurance Drives New Tech & Services
“Insurtech” is the big word these days in the field of insurance and the smart home (among other things). The insurance industry is starting to drive product development and consumer adoption of home technology. More insurers, for example, are demanding they receive data from security systems before doling out their typical 10% discounts. They’re not necessarily checking to see that you're arming your system, but they do want to know that it is actually connected to a monitoring station, that batteries are juiced in products like smoke detectors, and that the Wi-Fi network is sound.
They would like to pick up other data along the way, again not necessarily to spy on policy holders but to gather intelligence to better assess risk in different environments.
This is one reason we’re seeing a slew of new multisensors that gather a whole lot of measurements at once – temperature, humidity, motion, ambient light …. Stick one on the door ostensibly as a door sensor, but gather all the other data while you’re at it.
These and other trends, along with real-world products and implementations will be presented during the Webinar.
Thurs., Nov. 9, 2017, 2:00 pm Eastern
Presenters: Julie Jacobson, Avi Rosenthal
Sponsors: Z-Wave Allliance, Napco, iPdatatel + Resolution Products
Producers: CE Pro and Security Sales & Integration