NEW YORK — Home automation is an industry in transition.
Systems requiring professional installation are facing off against mass-market systems that can be installed by do-it-yourselfers who buy the products in homeimprovement chains and office-supply stores. Service providers such as AT&T and Vivint sell direct to consumers, and security-monitoring companies have expanded into home automation.
New wireless home-automation standards continue to emerge, and Apple is preparing to enter the fray.
How are electronics systems contractors (ESCs) and their suppliers coping with the changes? TWICE asked Matt Swatsky, Lutron Electronics product management director, for some insights.
TWICE:How have electronic systems contractors (ESCs) and their suppliers been affected by all of the changes affecting the home-automation market?
Swatsky: The emergence of DIY home automation systems and expansion of service providers is good news for the ESC community. National advertising campaigns are helping to drive awareness of smart-home technology, creating demand at all income levels. The ESC who was hired to hang a television or install wholehouse audio can now talk to their customers about plug-and-play smart-home solutions like our Casé ta Wireless system and Serena battery-powered shades. So, this should help ESCs grow their businesses.
TWICE:As more suppliers enter the DIY home-automation market, is a shakeout looming? If so, who would survive, and who wouldn’t? Perhaps many of the companies started with crowd-sourced funding?
Swatsky: We believe that in the Internet of Things, things still have to work. Lighting is a mission-critical component of daily life. Having your lighting controls fail is not an option. Lutron works hard to ensure that our technology is reliable and works as expected. We also work hard to align with brands (like Nest, AT+T Digital Life and Honeywell, to name a few) that have the same commitment to quality and their customers.
Without a steadfast commitment to quality and to their customers, certain products will certainly fall to the wayside.
TWICE:How do you segment your installed and DIY product lines and distribution?
Swatsky: Our Casé ta Wireless system is both a do-it-yourself and do-it-for-me product. The differentiator is the Lutron Smart Bridge, which allows system devices to be controlled via the Lutron app. The DIY version of the Lutron Smart Bridge is available at retail locations and online and is compatible with recently announced products like Nest thermostats, Logitech Harmony Home remotes, Honeywell Wi-fi thermostats and others. The Smart Bridge Pro adds additional features like advanced integration capabilities beyond lights, shades and temperature (e.g. security systems and other AV products) and can only be purchased through a professional installer channel.
TWICE: Will Lutron continue to expand compatibility of its home-lighting-control app to more other-brand home-automation devices? Would you limit those to Wi- Fi and ClearConnect-compatible devices or branch out into Z-Wave and ZigBee devices and perhaps to future Thread-group devices?
Swatsky: We’re always evaluating our customers’ wants and needs and aligning with best-in-class brands that, together with Caseta Wireless, will enhance the homeowner’s experience.