Home security and entertainment is converging

The forming of an important industry trend not to be missed or overlooked
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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

With the ever-increasing access to smart technologies, consumers are expecting more than ever from them. This of course includes home security; homeowners expect an easy-to-use and reliable security system – one that tells them when the kids are home and when the package has been delivered. After all, what homeowners want is “peace of mind” and when elements like door locks and security systems connect together this is easier to achieve. Homeowners are now expecting their security systems to do more – like control lighting and the thermostat – and today’s leading security systems enable control and even automation of these systems. 

Smartphone and Internet of Things (IoT) technology have enabled extending control beyond the home. The security industry has embraced this technology to make things like answering the door from across the country a reality. Essential for security integrators is to make this experience as seamless as possible. Homeowners don’t need the “Internet of Things” to be “Islands of Things,” individually smart, but not fully connected and each with their own app to do one thing. They want a simple-to-use, connected experience.

But what about entertainment? It represents a major component of the home lifestyle, but if the home theater or wireless audio system is not connected to other systems in the home, it could be another island in the Islands of Things. Security dealers who also offer automation and entertainment understand this, and they see an important trend forming: the convergence of security, automation and entertainment systems.

Of course, custom integrators doing smart home and AV projects see this convergence in almost every installation they do. In a recent survey by Nortek Security & Control of integrators installing ELAN Entertainment and Control systems, responses indicated that the installed control system integrated with a security sub-system is well over 90 percent of the installations. 

Why is this? It gets back to what homeowners want – peace of mind, comfort and convenience. Each homeowner will describe this differently, but entertainment is an essential part of the family lifestyle. It could be the simple media room, with a 4K TV on the wall and a sound bar underneath, or it could be a dedicated “theater” room, with a surround sound system to go with the 4K TV. In each of these cases, the integrator is simplifying the setup, getting the remotes off the coffee table and giving the household an easier, more intuitive experience – ideally one with better sound. Of course, it scales up from there, perhaps with distributed audio throughout the home and a couple other TVs elsewhere in the home. And, as almost every entertainment and control integrator will tell you, outdoor audio is one of the growth segments in AV and control integration. 

But, does it integrate with the security system? After all, this is the convergence in the 9 out of ten custom installations referenced earlier. If you are a security integrator not yet making AV and entertainment part of your offering, here are a few things to consider:

What control platform should you use? The right one for you depends on what you want to accomplish and what size integrations you want to do. 

Does the control platform integrate with your security system? Again, this is the convergence, but how your customer wants to use the systems can help guide your recommendation. For example, if your customer just wants to clean up the remotes in the media room, it may be less important to tie the security system into the control and entertainment system. Perhaps in this case, the security system is controlling the Z-Wave lighting and the thermostat, along with the surveillance cameras. The media room AV control is separate, and the security-centric “convergence” for the customer is that they got two solutions from one resource – you. 

What if your customer wants to press a single “movie time” button and not just dim the lights, but lower the shades, turn on the TV and streaming media source, and set audio for movie mode, including cranking up the subwoofer? When you start identifying the “moments” that are the typical use case for your customer, you may determine that the installation needs to be “control and entertainment” centric and that the security system is best operating as a sub-system within the control environment. 

For installations like these, you’ll need to determine which control system works best with which security system – how natively do they integrate, or what “drivers” are written for the control platform specific to your security platform? Just like security systems, all control and entertainment systems are not created equal; each has strengths to measure against others. 

Yes, the convergence between security and entertainment in home systems is here. As the technology integrator working with your customer, you are the one who makes that convergence a reality.

Bill Hensley is the Sr. Director of Marketing at Nortek Security & Control