Ana Tavares Lattibeaudiere is Head of Connected Living for the GSMA, the organisation that represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. She is responsible for identifying opportunities for collective innovation within the mobile industry and for developing and directing the strategic initiatives that will deliver them. She is currently leading the GSMA’s Connected Living market development programme to accelerate the adoption of wireless connectivity in a wide range of devices across diverse industries including Automotive, Education, Healthcare and Smart Cities.
Building the Future
The need to intelligently manage building-energy usage is becoming more urgent. Mobile and wireless technologies offer a solution—but this is only the beginning, with building automation systems now offering control over everything from security to in-home entertainment. Building automation offers huge opportunities for players across multiple industries—but they will need some help from the mobile network operator community to make the most of them.
How do we make our world more energy-efficient? One key area for exploration is building automation.
Traditionally, most approaches to energy management involve better insulation and more energy-efficient appliances. But increasingly, attention is being turned to the role that connected devices and wireless technologies can play. These technologies can control not just heating systems and appliances but also security installations, entertainment systems, medical devices, and home communications.
Connected home management is currently geared primarily towards HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). In the United States, as much 65% of total home-energy consumption can be attributed to HVAC, pool pumps, and water heaters, according to Consert, a U.S., provider of energy management solutions. By controlling these devices wirelessly, building owners can significantly reduce costs and carbon output without the need for building overhauls. Jim Morrish, analyst at Machina Research, says, “As much as 25% in energy savings can be achieved just with automated air conditioning.”
Less than 10% of U.S., households and only 2-3% in Western Europe have adopted connected controls—but the market is set to grow fast. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, 30% of European and 40% of U.S., households equipped with broadband Internet access will adopt some components of these smart home systems by 2022; revenues from such systems will grow to $24 billion in the U.S., by 2017, with professionally monitored security services accounting for the largest segment.
A Better Bathtub The key idea behind these benefits is the “Internet of things” – the rapidly expanding Web of wirelessly connected devices. Applications range from bathtubs that run water at a precise temperature to central heating systems that switch on automatically when the owner’s smartphone is detected a certain distance from the home.
Tony and Matt Rogers, luminaries who worked on Apple’s iPod and iPhone, launched Nest Labs’ Nest Learning Thermostat in October 2011. User control, from smartphones or laptops, combined with sophisticated sensors and algorithms, makes Nest more than the sum of its parts. Nest learns from the user’s behaviour to create a custom heating and cooling program, capable of everything from monitoring external weather conditions to sensing when the home is empty and making automatic adjustments to the temperature. Machina Research estimates that energy savings associated with home power management activities will reach $40 billion by 2020.
Joining the Dots Building connected devices is becoming easier and more cost-effective, as mobile broadband and other wireless technologies become ubiquitous. Increasingly, such devices can take advantage of multiple, context-sensitive connectivity standards: cellular or long-range radio for connecting to energy management gateways, for example, with short-range technologies such as Wi-Fi, ZigBee, and Z-Wave for connecting within homes and offices.
Whichever standards manufacturers choose, wireless is the bedrock on which smart home management and control will be constructed—not least because wireless devices can be retro-fitted into existing buildings. Morrish says, “Wired solutions really only work well in new-build situations, or as part of major refurbishments. Wireless solutions allow the gradual adoption of connected home devices over a period of years.”
Operators: The Connected Champions How can potential players in the building automation world best integrate themselves into this complex environment? For many, mobile operators present outstanding partnering opportunities to bring products to market more effectively. Operators are uniquely placed; they own and manage advanced mobile networks, have scalable customer relationship management and billing systems, and distribute and provision large numbers of devices—all key components of successful connected-building deployments.
Operators’ close relationship with customers gives them unique roles as educators, a vital component in ensuring rapid market growth. As well, operators’ understanding of the partnering process gives them an inherent advantage in creating new connected ecosystems. Today’s mobile operators already work closely with a wide range of organisations in developing and managing a wide array of consumer devices, appliances, and applications.
Deutsche Telekom announced its Smart Connect management platform in September 2011, which allows remote management of windows, door locks, lighting, and appliances, from smartphones and tablets, via mobile broadband. Smart Connect was developed in partnership with Sumitomo Electric Networks, e.on, EnBW, Miele, Winkel Solarsysteme, Samsung, and eQ-3. Smart Connect is expected to be available to subscribers from mid-2012.
In the U.S., Verizon’s Connected Home offering lets subscribers control everything from thermostats and appliance switches to door locks and security cameras via Android and iOS-based mobile dashboards. And in February 2012, AT&T announced Digital Life, an Internet-based remote monitoring and automation platform that gives end users control of their homes using any Web-enabled device, regardless of their wireless carrier. It will incorporate mobile Internet, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and wired broadband connections.
One-Step Beyond Potentially, operators could save customers money not just through power optimisation, but also by offering comprehensive packages of bundled services that could include the energy supply itself. Operators could take on the role of stewards, aggregating energy demand across the customer base and purchasing energy in the wholesale market.
Alternately, operators could partner with other suppliers that manage the consumer directly. Whichever approach operators choose, Machina Research believes the total operator revenue opportunity from connected home management services will exceed $137 billion by 2020.
Old Buildings, New Life Connected-home management is a relatively new idea, but it has captured the imagination of some of the world’s largest companies and most innovative start-ups. It illustrates how even our oldest, least mobile artefacts—the buildings that we live and work in—can be revitalised with the creative use of mobile and wireless technology. To learn more about the GSMA’s Connected Life project and find out how you can get involved, visit www.gsma.com/connected-life