CES: Home Management Developments

by Parks Associates | Feb. 8, 2013

By Kurt Scherf, Contributor

I am lumping home technologies for home security, remote control of lights, energy management, and personal safety into a broad category here, and the few paragraphs I’ve contributed don’t do justice to the development in this space. Home controls solutions have been around for decades, but one question that industry observers have been asking for years is “When is this market going to take off?” In the past couple of years, we have seen some significant growth in this space, and I think that lower costs and marketing that focuses on specific needs (security, health, energy management, etc.) has helped to bring about greater awareness and interest in these products.

One product that received wide mention is the Philips hue LED lighting system. The system allowed lightbulbs to be remotely controlled by iOS devices and to also be personalized by allowing the user to change colors and settings. It’s notable that this is the one home control product available at the Apple Store.

CES 2013 certainly placed an emphasis on the importance that broadband service providers will have on the growth of the home controls industry. AT&T, for example, used CES to announce that it will launch its Digital LifeSM service in March in eight markets. The service will give consumers remote monitoring and control capabilities for security, peace-of-mind, and energy monitoring applications.

As a mass-market retailer, Lowe’s is also driving the connected home market. It showcased its Iris system at CES. A key to this home control solution is the consumer’s ability to build it piecemeal. They can add a specific feature for security monitoring at first, and then add incremental capabilities such as energy monitoring as their budget allows.

My biggest takeaway from the many home controls solutions on display is how smartphones and tablets are serving as catalysts for this space. Whereas an advanced home control system required the installation of a proprietary controller, that functionality is now available on a personally-owned smart device. The monitoring capabilities provided by video streaming has also boosted consumer interest in these devices. Parks Associates reports that 15% of U.S. broadband households willing to adopt subscription controls packages. However, the percentages increase dramatically for individual controls components: 56% would buy door/window sensors, 53% would buy door locks, and 44% would purchase lighting controls. This research shows strong potential in selling equipment with security and control features through a retail channel that consumers can expand over time to incorporate additional features.

Some of the notable home controls items on display at the show include, ADT’s Safewatch Package, the DoorBot, Nexia Home Intelligence from Schlage, and NETGEAR’s VueZone wire-free home monitoring system.

Smarter personal safety devices were also largely represented at the show. A good example was the Philips Lifeline GoSafe product, which includes two-way cellular capabilities and a feature called AutoAlert. In the event of a fall, this feature can automatically send an emergency call if an individual is unable to do it him or herself.

Kurt Scherf, Contributor, has attended 13 out of the last 14 Consumer Electronics Shows in Las Vegas and tracked the news and developments remotely this year. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, the 2013 CES was the largest in terms of physical space (1.92 million square feet), with attendance of more than 150,000, with 35,000 people from 170 countries outside the U.S. While plenty of column space was dedicated to the companies that weren’t in attendance in an official capacity (Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Research In Motion, to name a few), there is always enough excitement in the new year about consumer electronics developments to cover.  

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