Connected Home Has Broad Appeal

10/18/2012


Connectivity is becoming a part of so many home devices and systems that someday soon we may no longer refer to “connected home” technology but instead simply say technology for the home. The connected aspect will be implied, thanks in part to M2M (machine-to-machine) technology. 

Connected-home technology includes a wide variety of systems, such as entertainment, security, lighting, heating and cooling, and energy management. The growing availability of broadband connections for the home has enabled the use of these systems, and Parks Associates, www.parksassociates.com, says revenue from broadband connected-home service bundles will be approximately $500 million in 2012 in the U.S.

Many devices are also connecting via Wi-Fi, and ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, predicts the number of Wi-Fi enabled devices shipped in 2012 will surpass 1.5 billion. This total includes many products for the home, including printers, TVs, and laptops. Peter Cooney, wireless connectivity practice director for ABI Research, says growth in Wi-Fi devices during the next few years will be increasingly driven by applications in the mobile and connected-home space.

Connected TV is an area of particularly high growth. ABI says 17 million Wi-Fi-enabled flat panel TVs were shipped in 2011, and this number grew to 30 million in 2012. It is forecast to grow four-fold by 2017. Both Wi-Fi and wired connections are used for connected TVs, which can also take the form of connected set-top boxes. Additionally, Cooney says consumers are demanding wireless connections between their TVs and other devices such as smartphones and tablets.

One connected-TV platform that’s been around for a while is Boxee, www.boxee.tv, although it is not the only one available. Previously available as a download and as the Boxee Box, the company recently announced a new option: Boxee TV. It’s a $99 hardware device that brings consumers live broadcast TV, a cloud-based DVR, and Internet apps. Boxee TV is scheduled to be available in November.

Boxee says users can watch live HD broadcasts from channels such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, Univision, and others. The device works with antennas and unencrypted basic cable to deliver the channels, plus it has two tuners so viewers can watch one show while recording another. The DVR stores recordings in the cloud instead of a local hard drive, so Boxee says there are no limits to how much content can be stored. There is a subscription fee for DVR service.

Boxee TV is an example of a connected device striving to bring more features to consumers. As homes become full of many such devices, there will be a need for products that help manage them. Along these lines, Ericsson, www.ericsson.com, is launching a new network gateway designed for the connected home.

The company says the Broadband Network Gateway, which uses the SSR 8000 (Smart Services Router) as a platform, will help to speed up adoption of cloud and video services in homes. The device provides a number of interfaces, supports 100-gigabit performance, and increases subscriber scalability.

The goal is to provide more opportunities for service providers to offer high-quality broadband and personalized services, which are often enabled by connected devices in the home.

In the world of the connected home, new services will allow users to enjoy more content and perform more functions in their homes, from downloading a new movie, to managing the air conditioner from a distance. For more on how these devices are changing our lives, check out the November/December issue of Connected World magazine, which features a cover story dedicated to the idea of the connected home. The technology is available; it’s simply a matter of making it practical for consumers.
 







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