Home Automation Trends Part 4 of 7 – Maturity

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C. Clarke.

The Demand for Home Automation was Always There – so What’s Different Now

Home automation as perceived today has been around for twenty years, but in 2013, it may finally come of age.   Technology and competition and innovation have all but destroyed its high-priced image, putting it within virtually everyone’s grasp.

2013 Consumer Electronic Show – was this the turning point

CNN saidThe world of automated home gadgets is young and exciting, filled with an abundance of promising new products”.  In past shows, the “smart,” home world was mostly pipe-dreams, with in development fridges with Internet-connected displays and elaborate home security systems. But in Las Vegas, at this year’s 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, the dreams had been become a reality, with large vendors selling practical products, almost all controllable from a featurephone.

Growth of Home Automation

According to a recent article by Forbes, the home automation industry has grown 111 percent since 2011 and is forecast to continue growing over the next four or five years. This is partly because some home automation can be implemented on some level by everyone.  Analysts have been predicting the possibility of massive growth in this industry segment for some time.  ABI Research said in May that home automation systems would jump globally from 1.5 million units shipped in 2011 to 20 million installed units by 2017

The range of Home Automation Possibilities

The Marmitek TotalGuard Security System offer wireless security functionality, along with control of your X10 devices

There are security house cameras you can access from anywhere, motion sensors that turn on lights or send your phone a text. You can control curtains, check air quality, see if windows are open, unlock your house from halfway around the world for a visitor, or use GPS to have your central heating turn on when you’re a certain distance from home. One product even monitors your plants’ moisture level and tell you when it’s time to water them.   The possibilities are endless.

How does something like a light communicate with your featurephone? Typically, the “dumb” device (light switch, electrical outlet, thermostat) is fitted with a wireless module. They communicate, using Wi-Fi or other wireless technology, with an Internet-connected hub/router, which collects the data and sends it to a server in the the cloud. That information is then accessible from a computer or smartphone app, the light controllable with the tap of a finger from anywhere in the world.

Maturity Coming but not Quite Here Yet

One sign that maturity is not here yet is the number of proprietary systems which do not talk to each others peripheral devices. “Theoretically, they should all work together,” said Daniel Moneta, chief executive of MMB Networks. “But innovation tends to happen at a faster pace than standards.”

The Insteon Hub plugs directly into your broadband router and through an iPhone App or Android App allows you to locally or remotely set up and control your Insteon and X10 devices


The Insteon Hub plugs directly into your broadband router and through an iPhone App or Android App allows you to locally or remotely set up and control your Insteon and X10 devices

The bigger suppliers sometimes deal with this situation by selling complete packages but this isn’t a sustainable approach.  When standards are mature, most people will not want proprietary systems.

Stand alone devices with individual control give current consumers some degree of supplier choice but their inability to communicate with each other and the consequent multiplicity of controls make this a cumbersome solution with limited features.  The real power of connected devices is in programs that link objects together, e.g. a window being open prevents the central heating turning on.



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