New options driving connected home growth

Home safety products top homeowners’ wish list of additional features
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

DALLAS—A survey of consumers by Parks Associates found that the more features homeowners have in a home control system, the more likely they are to recommend the system to family and friends.

That means service providers who offer a full suite of home control options “have the advantage in this early market,” according to Tom Kerber, director of research on home controls and energy at Parks Associates, a market research company based here.

Also, he said, consumers who had a very positive installation experience also were more likely to recommend a home control system to others, compared to consumers whose installation experience was negative. “This really speaks to the importance of that installation and configuration process,” Kerber said.

Kerber made his remarks during a recent webinar titled “Success Factors in the Connected Home,” hosted by Parks Associates and Sigma Designs, a provider of system-on-chip solutions for home control and entertainment. Sigma Designs is a member of the Z-Wave Alliance. Representatives of the company gave presentations during the webinar on the importance of Z-Wave as the key enabling technology for the smart home.

Kerber noted the connected home is now possible because “the infrastructure is in place.” He said the 75 percent of homes in the United States with a broadband connection make up “the total addressable market for connected home opportunity.”

Also, he said, about 80 percent of households now own a smartphone—“the user interface that enables connected home services.”

Kerber said the reduction in the cost of storage for data “that comes off these [smart home] devices now can be used to create new functions and services. … Every connected device is now a streaming device for data.”

He gave an example of connectivity involving a garage door. Kerber said data collected from the door can be used in a very basic application to remind you as you’re driving away that you forgot to close the garage door, but in a more sophisticated way it can be combined with other data, such as severe weather alerts, so if “there’s a thunderstorm approaching, for example, you have this advanced warning that will give you a notification to close your door.”

Kerber said, “From a connected home perspective, service providers have access to data from multiple devices in the house. This is significant because of what I call the growing functionality that is enabled by data.”

In its survey, Parks Associates also asked consumers: “Which products would you be interested in purchasing if they could be monitored or managed from inside your home or using a smartphone, or a tablet device?”

He said answers showed that home safety products, such as smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors, ranked highest, followed by some of the security components, such as motion sensors and door and window sensors. Those were followed by energy control devices, he said.

“Those safety, security and energy components—you can see that there’s significant consumer demand for those,” Kerber said.