The Future of the Smart Home: Insights from Nice North America

by Parks Associates | May. 16, 2022

Parks Associates continues its twenty-sixth annual CONNECTIONS™ with our in-person conference in Frisco, Texas on May 17-19. Paul Williams, Chief Product Officer of Nice North America, will be the featured keynote speaker presenting on May 18 at 5 PM CT. He will be discussing the history of the smart home, and provide insights on what the future of this industry may look like. Prior to the session, Paul provided insights on industry developments and consumer insights that will have an impact over the next few years. 

How can the industry’s push towards interoperability (Matter, etc.) in 2022 drive mass adoption of smart home solutions and connected devices?

From my point of view, the industry is still in the tail-end of the early adopter phase, and there is still a bunch of work to be done. While there are folks out there with the time, and the patience, to make currently available solutions work together in some fashion, this is not a small task for the general consumer. Compared to several years ago, costs for these types of solutions have come way down, which has helped adoption along. While connected home solutions are certainly more affordable now, there still exists a barrier for consumers to get from “control” which is where we are now, to true “automation” which is where we’re headed.
Pushes for interoperability certainly help steer the industry towards higher rates of mass adoption. General consumers just want the devices within their homes to work and grow with them. Right now, the home does not evolve at the same pace life within the home does. A system installed today and calibrated for users within the home does not account for how those users live their lives 5 years into the future. Right now, a system is installed, and the home remains static.
This is where I see initiatives like Matter capable of making a big impact. I have been involved with Matter and on planning boards since the start and I believe Matter could one day serve as the “on-ramp” for systems to begin to connect out to devices they were previously closed to. In the future, it should not matter to a professional installer if a consumer has purchased and installed several of their own smart home devices and now want a larger, or more complex system. Through interoperability initiatives, like Matter, we hope to see a future where solutions from across the board are capable of working with each other to provide users with an experience beyond just “control” and closer to true “automation.”

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

Advancements in personal emergency response systems (PERS) are making it easier for seniors to age-in-place and continue living independently. Under the Nice/Nortek Control umbrella, the Numera solution, for example, is a PERS solution that can be used both on-premises within the home, as well as a wearable. The inclusion of a mobile radio allows for the pendant to be connected to the cellular network, providing quick access to professional monitoring whether the user is at home, or running errands. The evolution of PERS technology and the expansion beyond the walls of the home provide elderly users, and their family members, with peace of mind. That help is just the push of a button away.

Years ago, PERS solutions were limited to a stationary base station within the home. As we witness this technology develop, additional use cases are beginning to emerge as a result. For example, the ability to provide PERS services outside the confines of a building is also benefitting lone workers, for those who often access remote workplaces on their own.

How do consumers view technology now versus before the Pandemic? 

There’s no question consumers view technology differently post-pandemic. Working from home, learning from home, and spending more time than usual within the home, caused consumers to think critically about the home technology solutions supporting them. Tech solutions that make it safer and more convenient at home experienced a pandemic-induced boom and show no signs of slowing down.
Most notable, the industry has experienced an uptick in technology solutions that made aspects of home life easier. Lighting and temperature control, for example, had a magnifying glass placed over them, with the household fully occupied. This resulted in increased interest in smart lighting, connected thermostats, and other solutions designed to help automate the home.
Where consumers may have been previously aware of connected home technology, the pandemic forcing them to spend large amounts of time at home kick-started a boom in installation. Today, consumer interest in solutions that can make life at home easier, safer, and more convenient for all, are in high demand.

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

Through Nice/Nortek Control’s gate and door solutions, it is already possible for vehicles to play an important role in the home control or the security system. For example, a resident with a gated entrance can treat an authorized entry as a trigger for more complex automations within a system. If an access code unique to a member of the household is used to trigger the gate for entry, lights, temperature, and even home entertainment aspects can be programmed to activate upon that specific user’s arrival. This can be achieved closer to the home through connected garage door controllers as well, which means the vehicle is already capable of being a key part of a smart system.
Expanding on possibilities, however, as geofencing technologies continue to advance, it becomes possible for a vehicle entering a pre-determined radius to activate key connected home scenes or automations. Additionally, just as many cars today use the keyfob as the authorized credentials to unlock and operate a car, further advancements in nearfield communication could make it possible for a keyfob to act as both the credentials needed to access the car and the home. The “personalization” of keyfobs already gives us the ability for a vehicle to remember things about the driver such as favorite station, seat height, and steering wheel placement. We could easily see this principle applied to the home whereby a personalized keyfob tells the home system who is home and automatically triggers their favorite automations.

As companies continue to improve upon ways to serve consumers at home, what are the top challenges are they facing? What changes will stay for the long term versus the short term? 

Over the course of the next 5-10 years, we have to work on closing the gap between DIY and the professionally installed to be successful overall. That’s one of the largest challenges the industry faces today. At Nice/Nortek Control, confidence is high that we can close this gap, especially as we start to address the “do it with me” crowd.
Right now, there’s a sizable gap between what you’re able to achieve as an early adopter using DIY solutions and what a professional installer can put in for a customer. Currently, they exist as two separate realms and the challenge lies in bridging the two. Today, there are select devices, such as voice assistants, that a user might go out, purchase on their own and deploy in their home. From there, it’s not uncommon for a user to desire more and enhance their connected home experience. Voice assistants are a great example of a piece of technology that can be integrated into a larger system by a professional installer. A video doorbell would be another great example, but a water shut-off valve, on the other hand, might not easily integrate into a larger system, or cause a barrier for the installer. This is an example of the type of challenge the industry must overcome to continue to serve consumers in their homes.
As an industry, the spot we need to be able to get is a world whereby a consumer can go buy and install their own solutions, should they desire, and if/when they want to level up their experience, a professional installer can easily integrate and use what that customer has already purchased.

Sponsored by, Calix, Cox Communications, F-Secure, Homebase, Plume, Airties, Bitdefender, Johnson Controls, Notion, A Comcast Company; Nice North America, Rapid Response Monitoring, Resideo, Schneider Electric, STRATIS®, A RealPage Company; AmTrust Warranty & Specialty Risk; Gadgeon, Ivani, Midea, Cooktop Safety, Iris® Powered by Generali and Assurant, CONNECTIONS™ is the pre-eminent executive conference on digital living technologies. 

Next: Bringing New Value: Growing Role of Smart Home Platforms: Insights from Z-Wave Alliance
Previous: Consumers Love Streaming Video Devices – It’s a Multi-Platform World


    Be the first to leave a comment.

Post a Comment

Have a comment? Login or create an account to start a discussion.