The Connected Home – still fragmented!

We are in the age of Connected Homes and Smart Homes.

I was in Best Buy a few days ago and decided to check out all the gizmos and gadgets for the Connected Home. They had a few aisles dedicated to this stuff.

I recall going through a lot of frustration, pain and a huge budget 12 years ago when attempting to put together a system for my home. When we moved a few years ago, I decided to spend my time elsewhere. Anyways, this was an opportunity to evaluate if someone can implement a DIY (Do it Yourself) for a SmartHome.

Takeaway #1 – There is not one stop shop solution or company that provides useful functions in one package at an affordable cost that appeals to the mass DIY market.

Takeaway #2 – Looking at the packages, it seemed that you need some tech knowledge to get any of these installed and especially do any troubleshooting.

Takeaway #3 – Customers will expect a demo area where they can see these solutions in action. Right now, there are too many choices that prevent one from making a easy but informed buying decision. It seemed (rightfully so) that retailers are not yet stepping up a big way to set up these demo zones. I have read about Target having such an area in their San Francisco store.

There may be an opportunity for a Systems Integrator who can take these commercially available solutions and make a meaningful installation package. We could call it SHaaS – SmartHome as  A Service. To enable SHaaS, a number of things need to line up – such as a open common device protocol and a home gateway that can be truly independent. With Amazon and Microsoft releasing an IoT platform, one can envision (may be in a decade or so) being able to roll out such a service.  Amazon Echo seems to have lots of potential to be the central hub in the home, if they can truly get away from focusing on e-commerce as the ultimate goal.

Here is my rough priorities in a connected home:-

  1. Simple security – Alerts me or calls an independent alarm company or my security circle when there is a breach. One company that I have invested in – Kornersafe is shipping a very simple DIY solution in this space.
  2. Smart Temperature (Air and Water) Control of the Home
  3. Home Monitoring / Wi-Fi Cameras
  4. Elder Care Monitoring , for people whose aging parents live alone.
  5. Whole home Multimedia Control and Playback (Audio, Video, Pictures)
  6. Home Safety Sensors to detect moisture inside attics, crawl spaces
  7. Whole Home Lighting Control
  8. Home Access Control
  9. Smart Kitchen

Each of  these systems reside in their own silos that one has to use multiple apps, learn different ways of interaction and pay for multiple subscriptions. Frustrating indeed!   I come to the conclusion that an integrated experience is just a gargantuan task. Our homes and our needs are so vastly different outside the work environment.

Some pictures of the shelves in Best Buy

Smart Thermostats – Nest is first mover and leader in this space. I don’t see an adoption blocker for existing HVAC companies like Honeywell to make their own thermostats smart and controllable from the Smartphone.

SmartThermostats - Connected Home

Lighting Control from WeMo

LightControl - Connected Home

Wi-Fi Security Cameras from many vendors, including NestCam (Nest + DropCam)

Security - Connected Home

Simple Home Security Systems (Canary) Hoping to see Korner in shelves soon.

HomeMonitoring - Connected Home

Home Access (SmartLocks – August ..)

Home Access - Connected Home

Finally, in the eldercare monitoring space, my portfolio company Bevy360 is making progress in taking advantage of latest IoT and machine learning technology to forecast cognitive trends.

Here is to a fruitful Smarthome project!

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