You may not have control over gas prices, the long wait at the DMV, or your receding hairline, but M2M (machine-to-machine) technology can give you control over the devices and systems in your home. Home automation is all about adding intelligence to systems that have been managed by hand for decades—such as flipping switches and turning dials. When will mainstream consumers see the value add?
While it seems people have been touting the “connected home” for years, the idea has more or less failed to catch on with the average consumer. Price and complexity seem to be two major culprits. But many believe the tide has begun to turn for the connected home—and maybe this time they’re right. As connected devices such tablets continue to flood the market, making it easier than ever to manage home systems remotely, a growing number of consumers are considering home-automation options in areas such as security and energy management.
A trend toward modularity may help ease us into connected homes. By providing single products and even “starter kits,” manufacturers have made it possible to connect just one room, like the entertainment room, or just one aspect of your home, like the lights.
Belkin’s, www.belkin.com, WeMo line of modular home-automation products illustrates this trend. You can buy just one or two WeMo products as a base, and then build up your connected-home network as needed. This plug-and-play approach differs from the more intimidating home-automation systems of the past that required professional installation and cost a pretty penny.
Lowe’s, www.lowes.com, is also setting out to offer an affordable home-management solution aimed at the mass consumer market. The company’s solution, Iris, just may be the ticket to breaking down barriers such as complexity, scalability, availability, and pricepoint, thanks to Lowe’s relationship with manufacturers, utilities, and service providers.
Iris is a cloud-based service platform that, along with Lowe’s forthcoming line of connected-home products, gives you the freedom to control your home from anywhere via smartphone or computer. For instance, Iris will let you monitor security cameras, control thermostats and lighting, and lock or unlock doors.
Beginning mid-2012, Lowe’s will offer a starter kit and individual home-automation products. Simply attach the hub to your home’s Wi-Fi router and then install whatever supporting devices you choose (sensors, cameras, etc.); the devices will connect to the network wirelessly. After setup, you can use the Iris Website or mobile app to interact with the devices, giving you full remote control of your home. You will even be able to create schedules that your home will adhere to—such as lights out at 10 p.m. when the kids are home with a babysitter.
A connected home is just one aspect of a connected world, but it’s an important one. Therefore, it’s high time average Joe and Jane Smith jumped on the smart-home bandwagon. Tune in to today’s edition of The Peggy Smedley Show, which broadcasts live each Tuesday at 12 p.m. CT, to learn more about the home-automation market. If you can’t listen live, be sure to download the podcast at www.peggysmedleyshow.com/archives.aspx