TWICE:Will home networking – this time with a focus on security, lighting and energy management – finally be ready to make a mass market splash?
Alexandra Harding, Ingram Micro Consumer Electronics: Without a doubt, the answer is yes! With the evolution of the “connected home” over the past few years, products have become readily available and economical to the general public. This has made it possible for many households to have connected devices such as Nest to help optimize your homes HVAC efficiency and reduce your utilities. In addition to Nest, products like Dropcam help home owners maintain visibility of their homes assets and alert them on their wireless device if any motion or sound is detected.
As far as lighting, Philips’ Hue has revolutionized the industry with their “connected bulb,” allowing you to control the brightness and color output of each bulb in your home individually, from any wireless device. Also, with the continuing evolution of the WeMo platform to simple, ingenious connected home products, Belkin has introduced new WeMo devices like the WeMo LED Lighting Starter Set and the WeMo Maker Kit to help meet the demand of the market.
Jeff Davis, D&H Distributing: Home networking is maturing, and there’s a reason. More products for the home (beyond entertainment devices) are being automated to interact with consumers’ personal devices. These include thermostats, lighting, smoke detectors and door locks. As more of these smart devices launch, home networking becomes necessary in order to coordinate these units, manage them and connect them to a hub. This trend is being driven by the ease of use of the phone and the tablet as home-automation controllers.
Dennis Holzer, The PowerHouse Alliance: The consumer is now beginning to understand the benefits and necessity of having a fully functional networking system in their household. Security vendors in addition to phone/cable companies and associated vendors are doing a much better and more complete job of advertising and promoting the benefits and broad range of uses that a fully functional networking system can provide. Networking systems are also significantly helping vendors and retailers selling Wi-Fi equipment, such as routers, access points and more, which many of these network systems utilize to function.
Fred Towns, New Age Electronics and Jack of All Games: Although home networking is beginning to take off in the retail market, it remains in the infancy stages. Its growth will be dependent on convenience and how easily consumers can install products on their own. As more full-box solutions that allow consumers to “plug and play” become available, this space will see more traction. Many mass merchants are building out in-store areas for home-automation that allow consumers to try to products out, which will be important for product adoption. There’s also opportunity for cost-effective home automation through manufacturers like Insteon, which offers remote monitoring and increased bandwidth to control elements such as lighting, climate and security.
Curt Hayes, Capitol: This will be the year that basic home-management technologies will be adopted by the mass market, thanks in no small part to Nest and others that make it easy to set up and use these products. We are going to see a sizable number of homeowners installing them in primary and secondary homes, while larger-scale lighting and security products will still be driven by integrators and other custom-installation pros.
Bill Stewart, Petra Industries: We believe that there’s a considerable interest in the category, but consumer education will be key. Manufacturers will need to do some heavy promotional lifting to inform consumers about the possibilities and benefits.