Connected Home at the Churchill Club
July 2015 – At the Accenture offices in San Jose, the Churchill club held a discussion on the direction and status of the Connected home. The discussion was moderated by Accenture and featured speakers from Forrester Research, Intel, Qualcomm and Nest Home Kit. The discussion focused on the realities of the connected home, as state of the art devices include a $1000USD internet connected rice cooker from Japan that can communicate when the rice is done. This comes into the category of technically possible to build, but not necessarily a mass market product for improving the quality of life and the home experience.
One of the challenged faced by the panel was what is a “smart home”? It is many different things and has many different aspects, but is essentially product with sensors that interact with the occupants in an intelligent manner to help improve the quality of experience in the home. The home then becomes a platform for the occupant, not just a residence. The panel continued with connectivity is a key as it allows for the collection of data to be able to provide thoughtful services and learn with predictive actions. The connectivity itself is not the “smart” part, but the data and analytics along with the resulting actions of this analysis is the “smart” part. Right now the partitioning is still taking place between local processing in the smart phone which is a device carried by all occupants, and taking place in the cloud with reporting to the smart phone.
The next issue was what is the value of the connected home? It is not as the current trend indicates, in local and distributed ads being displayed in the home. Rather it will about the relevant integration of the data and actions around the main costs and infrastructure in the home – food, insurance and utility costs.
The systems right now are in the add on marketplace – they are going in one piece and function at a time, typically on a 5 year installation cycle. This means with changing standards and functions, there is an interoperability issue as devices are added at a rate of 4-5 devices per year and have to be compatible with existing working installations as well as compliant with new technology to be put in the in future. However without security for these devices, both the data collection and the user control will not be possible. Getting the household to trust that the data is safe is key.
At this time, the connectivity interface has already been commoditized and is not a deciding factor in the selection of a device – they all have to work with everything. The connectivity interface of discussion right now are Ethernet, wifi, BT, Zigbee, ZWave and PLM. All have challenges and benefits for use in the home, and are very application centric on the decision path.
The connected home has two major states – occupied and empty. The occupied state has several gray shades, as it depends on who and how many people are home and their activity. From a larger perspective, there is also the issue of what happens when broadband connective or power connections are disrupted due to weather or other natural emergency- the house still has to operate autonomously as a functional facility and shelter.
The five (5) year out perspective was that the dominant interfaces for the home would be voice command and gesture, the “smarts” would be collected as both a cluster of devices collecting information, but also as a group of devices performing actions in a coordinated manner, command and control will be centralized in the home to gateway style devices, but the overall connectivity and control will not quite be there for predictive functionality. Finally, the smart home will be integrated with smart autonomous vehicle to help implement the smart city and smart suburb environments.