Interoperability in the Smart Home - Insights from Legrand

by Parks Associates | Jun. 3, 2019

Prior to Parks Associates’ 23rd-annual CONNECTIONS: The Premier Connected Home Conference, Pete Horton, Vice President, Market Development, Electrical Wiring Systems Division, spoke with the firm’s analyst team to his thoughts on interoperability in the smart home.

Pete participated on the Interoperability: Technology Convergence and Expanding the Smart Home panel on Wednesday, May 22, at 1:15 PM. Panelists who joined him on this session included:

Avi Barel, Director, Business Development, ULE Alliance
Alex Capecelatro, CEO,
Soren Lorentsen, Director of Global Business Development, SmartHome IoT, Silicon Labs
Matt St. John, Strategic Partner Development Lead - Smart Home, Google Assistant

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

A: 5G will deliver high bandwidth and low latency.  Consumers will start to notice these capabilities in real time VR/ AR applications, gaming, and self-driving vehicles.  These examples use the low latency of 5G to deliver new user experiences, currently limited by response times of existing wireless networks.

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: There are two areas where the car of the future will improve our living standards.  The first is the electric vehicle which will participate in our smart homes, buildings and cities.  The storage and charging features for the battery will help balance the electric grid and will support low-cost charging of the battery.The second area is the continued expansion of our mobile connectivity.  Already we are seeing vehicles connected to our mobile devices with “come get me” capabilities.  I expect the connected car to be a continuation of our connected lives, where the sensors, cameras and controls in the vehicle are available on demand for the owners use.

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

A: For market adoption. Even today with simple use cases driving adoption, a smart home is still very challenging to manage for the average consumer.  There is redundancy for simple things like rooms, groups or scenes, which creates complexity for the users. Protocols and wiring configurations may be less important in the short term than data models, naming and tagging conventions. Until it’s simple to use and maintain, only the technical savvy or the wealthy will be interested in purchasing smart home technology.Continued security and privacy vigilance, while assumed, needs to be continually approved.  GPDR/California requirements?? I don’t think it’s standards… but continued naming and tagging conventions by ecosystem leaders will help. Continued progress on IP-based devices

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: Products/devices will get to know you in the home and make suggestions that are valuable and contribute to a better life/experiences. AI and machine learning will have a transformational impact on our homes, but not in the next few years. AI and Machine learning require access to large amounts of data to help us in the home. AI requires access to the majority of the information in our smartphones including our location, contacts, and our calendars for example.  Other data sets will include family members’ phones, weather data, home sensors, cameras, personal interests, and social media information. After this data is available to run AI and ML there will have to be a financial model for manufacturers to provide the services. These services could be paid for by “selling the customer data” to third parties, but I expect some resistance to this model in the future.

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

A: Easy/Cost Affordable/Interoperable/Valuable Use Cases/Simple Education to Unlock Use Cases that Users May not understand (Shading/Scenes/Fan Control, etc.) Customers want fewer platforms to simplify the User Experience.  Manufacturers want access to their device data to help improve the user experience and are building their own platforms.  Independent platform providers restrict access to end device data and over the air updates. Platform providers may benefit by working more closely with device manufacturers in providing the services they need to support their devices, without having to build additional platforms. 

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

A: Voice Assistants have had the greatest impact.  Connected devices such as thermostats and lighting have complimented the Voice Assistants.  In the future, we expect better quality lighting that helps with sleep cycles, and pathway illumination will be areas of growth for aging in place. HCL – Not just for elderly; however, certainly beneficial to elderly. Remote Monitoring – …for the caregiver, Motion sensing – Follow me type of actions , YES – Pathway lighting!!

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