Smart Homes Getting Smarter

According to Juniper Research, a Smart Home as one that is designed to deliver or distribute a number of digital services inside and outside the home, through a range of networked devices. Since the rise of the smartphone, the term ‘smart’ is used in the loosest possible manner in the current marketing landscape, where ‘smart’ may refer merely to the fact that a device has on-board connectivity.

While high-speed Internet access is not essential for all devices deployed in the home, the full functionality of a Smart Home depends on the availability of a permanently accessible broadband Internet connection, notes the report.

Parallel to the trend for using the term ‘smart’ as somewhat of a misnomer, the Smart Home cannot yet be classed as ‘smart’. It would be more accurate to refer to the Smart Home as the Connected Home, says the report. Nevertheless, the end-game will undoubtedly deliver services throughout the home via an integrated network of connected devices in intelligent fashion.

The report shows the entertainment segment of the Smart Home to be the most viable in terms of consumer uptake, for the simple reason that entertainment services are almost universally desired. This trend was reflected in the last edition of this research, when entertainment services were forecast to command over 50% of Smart Home service revenues until 2021.

The study considers a smart appliance as a connected device such as washing machines, fridges and fridge freezers, tumble dryers, gas/electric fires, dishwashers, kettles, bread makers, irons and air conditioning units that are not part of a wider integrated system. Although the idea of a Smart Appliance is part of the Smart Home is not new, it is only over the last 10 years that the concept has not been held back technology limitations.

The prevalence of wireless communication in the home, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, has enabled hardware vendors to add to capabilities to their units. Using these technologies, one is able to move beyond an ecosystem in which devices live in a closed-loop system, to one where devices are able to share and act upon information drawn from numerous sources to provide two principal benefits for users: comfort and efficiency.

It is hoped, says the report, that the installation of the smart meter will reduce energy costs by allowing users to view their energy consumption in real time. It is also expected that smart meters will make utility companies in deregulated markets more price competitive and offer new subscription models, as the ease of switching companies is increased.

The greatest challenge, for any start-up in the Smart Home market, continues to be the inability to determine the industry’s path in the future. A start-up’s influence on the market is not big enough to drive mass adoption of a technological standard, business model or process, says the report. Where, for example, Apple has been able to drive wider take-up of NFC-enabled solutions across some retail and financial industries, no start-up will be able to singly ensure that a low-power communications technology becomes dominant in the Smart Home unless they emerge from start-up status.

See the Juniper Research Whitepaper for additional information

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