Did you know that Smart Home 2.0 enables homeowners to monitor and control their homes from anywhere via smartphone, tablet, or computer with a free basic level of service? If so, read on and check out when you need to start paying closer attention to a whole plethora of smart house systems coming down the track…..
WHAT IS THE SMART HOME HYPE CYCLE?
The hype cycle released bi-annually by HomeMentors charts the progression of 25 emerging next-generation smart house and personal technologies through a cycle of initial euphoria, a disappointment to an eventual realization of the technology’s role and relevance in people’s lives. My job is to decide where to position each of the technologies on the hype cycle and what is the likely period of time before these systems reach maturity in the marketplace.
DIFFERENT PHASES OF THE SMART HOME 2.0 HYPE CYCLE EXPLAINED
Each of the smart home technologies passes through 4 separate phases:
- Early Stages of Romance: In this early phase of the cycle; there are many uncertainties regarding the technology; however the technology creates a level of excitement amongst the press, industry analysts, and pundits. Product availability ranges from prototypes to expensive early stages. Google Glass for instance is sitting comfortably in this space at the moment.
- Not Living up to Expectations: Products move into this downward discontent phase of the hype cycle once the first iteration of products get installed in people’s home and the technology does not live up to the unrealistic expectations created in phase 1 of the cycle. Once this happens the media start to generate negative feedback and the initial euphoria dies off
- Good old Hard work & Dedication: Companies double down and start to refine the product range and release second-generation HA 2.0 products. Overall publicity and hype play a much lesser role in this phase and the positioning of a product on the chart depends on the technology’s ability to deliver some real benefits to end-users.
- Part of General Conversation: In Ireland, we talk about the weather a lot! Once a technology comes up in conversations amongst the less tech-savvy general population then a rapid growth phase of adoption begins. That’s ‘cha-ching’ for the ecosystem!
Once I have assigned a technology to a phase on the hype cycle; my next job is to estimate the number of years it will take for each of these technologies to reach the phase 4 of the cycle – i.e. people in general start to consider buying products because the technology at this later stage of the cycle has a proven track record.
2014 SMART HOUSE 2.0 HYPE CYCLE
Each of the technologies and systems graphically illustrated below is included because I believe that they will have significant impacts on our day to day lives over the next decade…. Okay, let’s take a closer look at what’s inside each of the phases….
EARLY STAGES OF ROMANCE
Okay, so there’s a bunch of smart house technologies assigned to this phase for this year at least. First up are smart home locks…
#1: Smart Home Locks
Definition: Allows to you to control your door locks and access into your home using a smartphone. Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Requirement for professional installation of door locks and access controls combined with modifications to the fabric of entrance areas and lack of awareness discourages widespread use of these systems.
#2: Smart Water & Freeze Sensors
Definition: Sensors that send an alert to your smartphone or tablet device once flooding of adverse freeze conditions is occurring in your home.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Significant progress is hindered by a general deficit in expertise as to how one would go about initially installing a smart home automation system and associated sensors.
#3: App Control of Smart Home A/V
Definition: Connects to your home Wi-Fi network, allowing anyone in your house with a smartphone, tablet, or PC to control you’re A/V equipment or home automation system.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: This is a relatively new class of products that fulfill many smart home automation control functions; however, they are not widely deployed as of yet. Market penetration may increase as the number of skilled next-generation smart home installers’ increases.
#4: Internet of Things (IoT)
Definition: The term is dated, even as dated as the term ‘smart home’ 🙂 – around since 1999. IoT defines a bunch of physical devices interconnected with the Internet.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: IoT within the smart home is exciting but is still in its infancy stages. Do however expect to see an acceleration through the cycle in the coming months and years.
#5: Smart thermostats (Wired)
Definition: As the name implies, the physical cable is required between the thermostat and the controller or actuator that switches your boiler ON and OFF.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Although the application of Wired Smart thermostats is compelling, the efforts associated with engaging with a professional HVAC contractor and interfacing with a smart home automation controller will make wide-scale adoption challenging.
#6: Smart Thermostats (Z-Wave)
Definition: They operate on the same principle as wired thermostats, except that they communicate with the boiler (HVAC system) via radio frequency.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: This product category is fairly new, does have market interest, however limited range of product availability.
#7: Smart Thermostats (Zigbee)
Definition: Digital thermostats that include Zigbee wireless communication capabilities.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Utility companies around the world are using the protocol in their smart meters.
#8: Smart Thermostats (Wi-Fi)
Definition: Hard wired to your HVAC and included in your in-home Wi-Fi network – controllable locally and remotely via a smartphone, PC, or tablet device.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: This is one of the hottest categories of smart thermostat products. Innovative solutions such as the Google NEST learning thermostat have helped to fast track this technology through the hype cycle. Expect to see lots of development and innovation in this space over the coming years.
#9: Smart Lighting (Z-Wave)
Definition: Wireless lighting control systems that use the Z-Wave protocol require no new cabling.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Z-Wave lighting systems are still in the early stages of adoption by the general public. DIY installations account for most of the activity so far.
#10: Smart Lighting (Zigbee)
Definition: ZigBee is an open public standard for wireless sensor networking and can be used to control your home lighting systems.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Zigbee products are being driven primarily by the utility and telecoms industry, whose desire is to maximize the features of their smart meter programs.
#11: Smart Lighting (INSTEON)
Definition: INSTEON is also used to automate a range of lighting functions within your home.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Competes directly with Z-Wave and Zigbee lighting control systems, particularly in the USA.
#12: Smart Lighting (Bluetooth & Wi-Fi)
Definition: As the name implies these standalone lighting control systems enable you to control lights using an App. The types of functionality supported by these systems range from basic functions such as lights ON and OFF via an app to more advanced capabilities such as personalizing your lighting to suit your family’s lifestyle.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: The rate of progress through the cycle is expected to accelerate in 2014 and 2015, but for the moment this category of the smart home device resides in phase I of the cycle.
#13: Smart Combo Alarms
Definition: Wireless combo alarm devices are typically hooked up to the internet and generally comprise an IP Camera, a motion detector, and an interface to a smart home automation hub.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: These systems offer simple and to-date reliable home security, with the potential to expand into basic home automation functionality. Optimistic that this category of smart home products will accelerate through the hype cycle quiet quickly.
EXPECTATIONS NOT MET
Here are a bunch of systems, that in my humble opinion has not yet reached the bar, but may at some stage…
#14: Multi-Room HDTV Distribution Systems
Definition: A system that utilizes a pair of Cat5e or Cat6 cable to send HDTV signals to different rooms in your house.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Costs are decreasing and Cat5e or Cat6 cable has proven to be the most future-proof, secure, reliable, and bandwidth-agile method of sending HDTV content around a house. HDBaseT products are just becoming available to installers.
#15: Wireless HDTV Distribution Systems
Definition: Uses radio frequencies to send HDTV signals around your house.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: There was a good deal of hype in the market when wireless HDTV products started to initially appear. This has now followed by declining customer confidence as the technologies fail to deliver on early, overblown promises. Wireless HDTV distribution products should however emerge out of this phase in a relatively short period of time.
#16: Home Energy Monitoring Units
Definition: The main purpose of the home energy monitoring unit is to report your home’s total real-time wattage and kWh usage back to your home automation controller.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: This technology got some early activity, but activity has slowed a bit. However, we expect utilities and manufactures to continue to push the benefits of installing these systems.
#17: Outdoor Speakers
Definition: Weatherproof speakers that are connected either wirelessly or over cable back to your MRM 2.0 system.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Outdoor speaker products are available, but uptake has been slow – not clear as to why adoption is muted; as product range and stability are quite good.
GOOD OLDE HARD WORK & DEDICATION
#18: Smart Lighting (Wired)
Definition: A lighting system that is built with a combination of high voltage electrical and Cat6 cables. Typically installed if you are building a new house or involved in renovations.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Penetration still very low, but has potential. Buyers are concerned with extra costs when building a new house.
#19: Home Automation Remote Controls
Definition: Simple low-level devices that look like a handheld remote control and allow you to control a small number of devices.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Although a long way from the general conversation phase; these remote controls do work, are reliable, and sit in the third phase of the hype cycle.
#20: Wired Smart Home Automation Hubs
Definition: An electronic circuit board type products; that gets mounted into a structured wiring distribution box. These are generally installed as part of a new construction project or wiring upgrade to an existing building.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Also positioned at phase 3; wired based Smart Home controllers typically require professional installation and vendors need to try and educate the general population on the benefits of wiring their homes to use their products.
#21: Elegant Looking Wireless Smart Home Automation Controllers
Definition: Home automation controllers that closely resemble a cable set-top box or broadband router.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: There is no real traction for this product category yet; and I await some type of event that will catapult this product category onto the next stage of the hype cycle.
#22: Touchscreen Smart Home Automation Controllers
Definition: Home automation controllers that mount on the wall and include a touchscreen interface.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Product category fairly new, but market interest is growing. Has the potential to bypass phase 3 if adopted by alarm installers.
PART OF GENERAL CONVERSATION
#23: Smart IP Network Cameras
Definition: IP cameras allow you to use an App to view your home (both inside and outside) anywhere in the world.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Timing for this smart home category is good due to the recession. People are aware that they can watch their home or business using their phone and the outlook is good for IP based camera systems.
#24: Wired MRM 2.0 Systems
Definition: A sophisticated multi-room music (MRM) system is capable of simultaneously delivering digital music to multiple zones from multiple music sources.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Wired music systems have been around for ‘donkey’s years’ and will continue to be adopted by new construction and renovation projects.
#25: Wireless MRM 2.0 Systems
Definition: Systems that allow you to enjoy the benefits of whole-house systems without the need to completely re-wire your home.
Justification for Hype Cycle Position: Wireless MRM 2.0 Systems are one of the hottest areas in the field of next-generation home automation and have the potential to be transformational.
OVER TO YOU
There is currently a flurry of activity going on in the smart home space.
Crowdsourced sites are bubbling with products that are aspiring to help to ‘Smartify’ your family home…..
Only time will tell, which of the smart home systems will accelerate through the hype cycle and turn out to be stars, whilst others will fall off the cycle.
In the meantime, I will be keeping a watchful eye and refining the smart
home hype plan over the months and years ahead.