Independent Living in the Smart Home - Insights from Yonomi

by Parks Associates | May. 29, 2019

Prior to Parks Associates’ 23rd-annual CONNECTIONS: The Premier Connected Home Conference, Kent Dickson, CEO and Co-Founder, Yonomi spoke with the firm’s analyst team to his thoughts on independent living in the smart home.

Kent participated on the Business Model Innovations in the Smart Home panel on Thursday, May 23, at 1:30 PM. Panelists who joined him on this session included:

Andy Chambers, Vice President of Connected Home, Assurant
Stephen Eyre, Area Vice President, Cloud & Smart Home and Business Solutions, Calix
Brett Worthington, SVP of Business Development, Frontdoor, Inc.
Q: 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?

A: A security and privacy rating service would be useful. An independent body that evaluates the policies, practices and track records of available services would be super helpful to consumers. Something simple like a green, yellow, red rating would help consumers understand at a glance what they might be getting into when they opt in to a new product or service.

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

A: Once it is pervasively deployed, 5G will make it easier to on-board and connect devices. But more importantly, it will enhance reliability and performance on the wide area network which means that the edge devices will be mostly dumb while the Cloud will do the heavy lifting. This will cause the price of connected devices to fall dramatically while their capabilities become continuously greater.

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

A: The car is becoming an extremely important part of the smart home ecosystem. As the primary mode of daily transportation for most Americans, our car is our “home away from home”. With connected home technology, however, we no longer have to feel like the two are separate.

That’s why we’re partnering with companies like Gentex to bring in-dash smart home controls to your favorite car models. Soon, turning on your entryway lights and unlocking the front door remotely will be as seamless as opening your garage door today.

In addition to in-dash smart home controls, we’re also working with leading auto manufacturers to turn your car into an actual smart home device. That means you’ll be able to start pre-heating the car as part of a “Good Morning” Routine, or lock the car as part of a “Goodnight” Routine. Really exciting stuff.

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

A: We believe that the key to a seamless smart home experience is going to be an open, agnostic approach to the way devices work together. That means all device manufacturers following a similar set of protocols for interoperability, as well as for security and privacy. We’ve seen different companies in the past opt for a “walled garden” approach to smart home—and we’re even seeing echoes of that now—and it’s clear that customers do not want to go that route. When customers have the freedom to choose which devices they want to add to their smart home, the whole ecosystem flourishes.

Q: 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?

A: The impact of AI in the home will be very material but probably more subtle than folks might assume. Advances will probably be collaborative with the users. When the machine learns something that might be useful to you, it needs to find a way to confirm that with you in subtle and non-irritating ways. That's really hard to do well, and it's going to be different for each person.

Q: With smart home adoption flattening in 2018, what must the industry do to reach new buyers?

A: Many of the smart home products and services to date have been focused on the wealthy or the automation enthusiasts. The mainstream user is where the focus should be. The products need to be inexpensive, easy to install and use, and instantly more useful than the product or service they are replacing. Novelty wears off fast. Make it persistently useful, even mundane, on a day to day basis. The door is never again left unlocked when you’re gone, water leak damage is a thing of the past, un-occupied rooms aren’t unnecessarily cooled.

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

A: There are so many exciting innovations and companies working in the age-in-place industry right now. It’s becoming clear that the way we will age will not be like previous generations have. We’re partnering with companies that will be able to use basic sensors to learn your parent’s or grandparent’s regular activities in the home and alert caretakers if there’s an unexpected change—like they don’t turn on the coffee machine by 6am. Its safeguards like these, along with greater accessibility thanks to smart home automation that will allow us to age in place longer.

Q: How will the continued rise of DIY security expand the smart home?

A: Security is a great starting point for most smart home consumers because it fills a very visceral need. A security camera can help you keep your pets in line while you’re at work, or it can help prevent packages from being stolen from your front porch.

But what we see is that customers don’t stop at a security system. Maybe they want to get some smart lighting so that the porch light turns on when motion is detected outside. Or, they want their smart speakers to play loud music to deter burglars. However that lightbulb goes off, they see the full potential of smart home automation and dive in head first.

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

A: It’s actually shocking to see how little media and entertainment companies have thought about the smart home outside of the streaming service or morning briefing. Smart home automation allows for these companies to interact with their audiences in the same ways they do with mobile apps and social media today. For instance, on Valentine’s Day Yonomi suggested a “Netflix and Chill” Routine to our users that turns on the TV and dims the lights. Imagine if the HBO app could let you dim your lights and crank down the thermostat when you’re sitting down to watch Game of Thrones? Wouldn’t that be cool?

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