Connected Home: Seeing Is Believing

8/30/2012


Ever heard of the “sandwich generation?” The term refers to adults who find themselves shouldering responsibility for two generations of loved ones—their kids and their aging parents. Connected devices enabled by M2M (machine-to-machine) technology can make a difference. Solutions that provide insight and visibility into home systems, for instance, can help provide peace of mind—because so often, seeing is believing.

Connected-home solutions make a lot of sense for generation “sandwich.” Consider the ability to remotely monitor home-security cameras or door locks, making sure children arrive home from school safely; or equipping a mother-in-law suite with sensors that can report activity back to the homeowner, allowing them to make sure their aging parent is up and moving as expected without intruding on her privacy.

The smart-home trend will be driven in part by these types of smart monitoring systems, along with home automation, energy management, connected home entertainment, and even home-health systems. How big will the market get? According to Strategy Analytics, www.strategyanalytics.com, smart-home solutions are expected to generate $24.3 billion in revenue by 2017.


One company that focuses on the home-automation side of connected home is Vivint, www.vivint.com, which markets in part to those consumers who find themselves caring for both older and younger generations. The company’s home-automation solution can be paired with a smartphone app, allowing its systems to be monitored and controlled in realtime from anywhere.

Vivint’s goal is to provide peace of mind through realtime monitoring and communication services. Its portfolio includes devices and systems specific to those caring for the young and/or old, including cameras and motion sensors; sensors for cabinet doors, refrigerators, and appliances; smart thermostats; and medical pendants that can transmit an emergency signal from within a home.

Take for instance, NETGEAR, www.netgear.com, a company which recently acquired home-security solution provider VueZone, www.vuezone.com. According to Erich Volkert, senior director of product management for the connected home with NETGEAR, “Customers are realizing that peace of mind can come from knowing your kids got home from school safely, your new puppy is still in the backyard, or you did, in fact, close the garage door this morning.” In short, Volkert says, seeing is believing.

NETGEAR VueZone specializes in the connected security-camera segment of the connected-home market. Its Wi-Fi-connected remote video-monitoring system is a simple way to equip a home with cameras that can provide visibility into the property and its occupants—kids, elderly parents, pets, or belongings.

Ease of use and installation costs have traditionally withheld consumer adoption of such systems. For NETGEAR VueZone, surmounting these hurdles is important. “Security systems are expensive to install and difficult to use, and get used very infrequently,” says Volkert. “Things are changing … (there is a) move from analog, closed systems to digital IP-based systems and the widespread availability of broadband at the residential level, both of which lower the overall cost of video.” 

Simultaneously, as more homeowners adopt mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, the mobile component to smart-home solutions has become increasingly important. Consumers not only want to access social-networking sites while on the go, they want to bank, work, and control their homes’ systems. Now, we even want to stream live video from home-security cameras, or check in on our loved ones’ activities.

For the sandwich generation, a lot rides on their shoulders. M2M can help relieve some of the burden by putting realtime data at their fingertips. Hurdles still exist for the connected-home market; but as more companies bring to market solutions that aim to reduce complexity, and package these solutions with messaging that appeals to a need in the market, the space will reach new heights.





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