Connected Devices in the Smart Home - Nice Insights

by Parks Associates | Oct. 22, 2020

The CONNECTIONS Community is the Premier Connected Home Conference focused on the connected home and will be held July 15, July 29, August 19, September 16, October 7, October 28, and November 10-12. Mark Burson, VP Marketing & Product Management, Nice North America will speak at on the session, DIY: Impact for Smart Home and Security on November 11, 2020 at 1:30 PM CT.

Platinum Sponsor, Nice, shared thoughts on the smart home industry:

What do you anticipate the impact of Covid-19 to be for the smart home industry, in the short term and long term?

Residential spending has increased significantly as a result of COVID-19. In addition to smart home security sales, our garage door and gate business lines have also seen an increase in demand across North America. The short-term has already begun and we believe it will be highly beneficial for DIY brands, such as abode, due to a reduction in in-home services provided by traditional installers. Obviously, the short-term has hindered the professional installer channel – which we remain committed to – but the long-term impact will be an increase in smart home purchases overall. The uptick will be across low- and mid-range DIY as well as mid-to-high-end devices and systems when operations for professional installers normalizes. Our European business units have seen an increase in commercial smart building demand as well. Both the short- and long-term impact will be positive worldwide across the industry.

As the number of connected devices in consumers’ lives increase each year, what solutions need to be created to allay rising consumer concerns around data security and privacy?

First and foremost, brands must focus on developing trust and transparency. As more camera and listening devices enter the home, consumers will want and deserve assurances regarding security, data collection, and overall privacy. Therefore, solutions need to be specific to those three areas. Implementation of the latest encryption and authentication updates for cloud-services handles backend security. User protocols, like two-factor authentication, authorization of new and disabling of old users, along with educating consumers about strong passwords will aid in frontend security. Data collection and privacy should continue to follow the progressive approach of GDPR and CCPA, regardless of regional or local mandates.

With the rollout of 5G technologies nearing, what impact will this technology have on connected consumers?

5G will certainly be a game-changer for data delivery. The largest impact of 5G technology will be related to video services and two-way communications between mobile clients and smart home devices. Aside from that, smart home communications do not tend to consume a lot of data. We could, potentially, see a move towards devices connecting to 5G networks to declutter home WiFi or for cellular backup systems; but security, cost, and device battery life are initial concerns.

As the smart home experience expands outside the home, how will the role of the car evolve as part of the smart home ecosystem?

The car will evolve to be an extension of smart home ecosystems. We’re already seeing mobile devices and vehicles coming together for things like keys or mobile services. This will continue and the car will be used much more efficiently for geofenced automations and event triggers. Additionally, vehicles in the driveway could become an extension of smart security devices outside the home or on the perimeter. Most newer vehicles have cameras, sensors, and communications systems and it’s easy to envision the car playing a role in surveillance or perimeter security.

What is necessary to build a seamless smart home experience that crosses brands, platforms, and ecosystems?

There’s a lot of fragmentation in the industry and the biggest opportunity here is coopetition. Manufacturers need to come together to develop and standardize on shared protocols that all devices use to communicate. This will improve the user experience and bring down costs, enabling consumers to choose the exact devices needed without worrying whether they’ll work with a particular ecosystem.

What impact will emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and blockchain have on the smart home? What are the associated challenges with implementing these technologies in the home?

For the most part, this will be dominated by larger companies and brands able to invest in these technologies for the long run. It’s likely there will be a requirement for partnerships or licensing, which is good for innovation and interoperability but could be a strong entry barrier depending on whether systems are open or closed. Machine learning will have the biggest impact as camera devices begin to identify and understand the difference between authorized users and visitors, triggering automations accordingly. abode is already working on technology called ComputerVision, using facial recognition to trigger notifications and automations. Technologies like this will continue to evolve and the home will truly become smarter.

How will service providers adapt to the “new normal”?

The reality of this “new normal” is that service providers will have to make a choice: evolve or dissolve. This isn’t really anything new and providers have always followed the market. But, moving forward, there will need to be more contactless options and services with less face-to-face interaction. Eventually, some of the “old normal” will return but service providers will already have evolved.

What innovations have you seen that will address the existing needs of the elderly to enable independent living in the smart home?

Aging in place is a very important topic in the smart home. Two-way voice and video communication will evolve to become systems capable of monitoring movement and general well-being. Systems and sensors to monitor temperature, breathing, mobility, and other health concerns will be able to proactively warn or alert appropriate individuals if dangerous situations are observed. A lot of the capabilities exist today but need to be further developed and integrated to become part of the smart home and enable more independent living as we age.

How will the continued rise of DIY security expand the smart home? What challenges will DIY players face in 2020 and beyond?

DIY will continue to make everyday consumers more comfortable with smart home devices. As a result, the main challenges will be related to increased competition, device ubiquity, and the need for differentiation. The industry is already fragmented and filled with players, large and small, offering devices with similar specs. Sensors, for example, perform similarly across brands and are a commodity. Smart home brands must focus on differentiation through improved interactions, better customer experiences, and trust.

What new energy management scenarios are emerging from industry partnerships and crossover use cases?

The best integration with energy management will be through solar and how power is stored and used. The smart home will be capable of using machine learning, modeling, and automations that focus on occupancy and usage to control energy distribution. This will enable systems to learn, adapt, and more efficiently control power levels and usage to avoid needless consumption or energy loss. There may even be opportunities in smart neighborhoods where excess power is redistributed to neighboring homes based on need. Eventually, energy consumption will be a more environmentally friendly and efficient process that is self-sustaining.

What strategies are needed to achieve a unified experience in the home for consumers between smart home and connected entertainment products and services?

All connected devices contribute to the smart home ecosystem but awareness that devices can be connected to form an ecosystem needs to be increased. Devices also need to be capable of talking to each other directly or through a gateway to increase integrations. Apps must be able to connect these devices without additional hardware, aside from a central hub. Connected entertainment devices, such as TVs would become the visual interface for interactions with the smart home.

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