2012
06.27

I am not a homeowner, but as a member of the Connected World editorial staff, it’s part of my job to learn as much as I can about the smart home (along with every other vertical market that uses M2M and connected devices). And while I’m not yet at a point in my life where I can use this knowledge to make my own home more connected, I look forward to the day when I can be part of the smart-home movement.

But is it a movement? I sat in on the “Welcome Home” panel at the Connected World Conference a couple of weeks ago (maybe you were there, too), and it seems the answer is both yes and no. Yes, because as our panel of experts expressed, the cost and reliability of the technology is becoming more favorable. No, because a lack of standards and a fuzzy value proposition in the minds of consumers are creating mixed messages, both among providers and between providers and customers.

These hurdles are nothing new to our ears; we have all heard the market’s musings about the disconnect in the connected-home market. So what did our experts, which included Greg Farrell of ADT Residential and Small Business, Jim Hunter of Motorola Mobility, and Derek Voigt of Craftsman, have to say?

Smart-home solutions need to fulfill a need, or, as Connected World’s Editorial Director Peggy Smedley likes to say, it needs to alleviate a pain in consumers’ lives. ADT’s Farrell says it still needs to be easier for people to control their homes and the things that are important to them. Craftsman’s Voigt agrees there is still work to be done, pointing out the value proposition needs to be more clear. Of course, panelists agreed the age-old question in the industry remains: What’s the standard? Wi-Fi? ZigBee? Z-Wave?

Meanwhile, industry players continue to release products that can make our homes smarter. Just today, Cisco announced a new cloud platform for Linksys Smart Wi-Fi routers that “transform and power the new ‘connected’ home.”

Cisco says the routers are designed to simplify how consumers connect, control, and interact with connected devices in the home, including appliances. Cisco’s Connect Cloud handles the technical aspects of setting up a home network, whilst leaving us to sit back and enjoy our connected homes.

Well, not my connected home, of course.

There are those of us for which the smart home’s value proposition is clear. For us, “the industry” has less work to do. Perhaps the generation that will ultimately be most comfortable with the idea of a connected home—and indeed, a fully connected world—is not at the home-ownership stage quite yet.

By no means does that signify industry proponents should sit back and wait for the golden age of the connected home to simply arrive. But I am going to pass along a quote from Motorola Mobility’s Jim Hunter, Connected World Conference panelist: “Don’t try to boil the ocean; solve one problem at a time.” If we do this, I bet smart-home adoption will come.

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