TWICE: How do you see consumer interest in home automation changing in the next five to 10 years?
Brad Hintze, C4: The proliferation of smart-home devices is already heavily upon us. Living in a smart home is going to become the “new normal,” and Control4’ s approach is an important part of that process. Point solutions like Nest and Sonos will drive demand for whole home systems because people will begin to have that taste of the lifestyle this technology brings, and they’ll want more, or they’ll want help connecting it all together in a better, more fully orchestrated way.
Part of that new normal means this technology is going to go beyond the home and into our lives everywhere. We’re already seeing and doing some of this: Every kind of business from luxury hotels to fitness centers to retail stores, doctor’s offices and sports bars are using Control4 today because consumers are already starting to expect this kind of service in their daily life. At that point, we believe their continued exposure to the benefits of great connected solutions for entertainment, smart lighting, comfort etc. will snowball into unparalleled interest in having them at home.
Tom Kerber, Parks: Growing familiarity and the rapid evolution of value-added services will drive consumer interest and adoption in the long term.
Cat Toomey, URC: We believe consumer interest will continue to grow as general awareness heightens. Like everything, there will be key “successes,” and we also expect some falloff owing to disappointing DIY.
Therefore, for some, their curiosity will convert into full-fledged adoption of home automation. For others, interest blossoms more slowly, with waiting and watching and leading to piecemeal adoption of home automation. In either case, the path may lead to the same ending over time.
We also recognize there will always be different kinds of consumers – the “DIY” and the “DFM,” or Do it For Me. DFM will continue to exist based on busy lives, difference in income, and difference in personality and service expectations.
TWICE: Describe DIY home-automation systems and the market 10 years from now.
Nathan Smith, Wink: To date, the smart home has revolved around the mobile app. The future will bring interactions that are richer, more seamless, and take place without you having to trigger it on your phone. As a result, the focus will move away from the app and toward your devices working together as an ecosystem that can intuitively anticipate and act upon your in-home preferences and needs.
There’s also been a lot of conversation about whether or not the hub has a place in the smart home. We strongly believe that it does, though what I think you’ll see in the future is the hub living within something else. It won’t always have to be a stand-alone piece of hardware. We’re always talking with partners to see how the hub can be embedded within a smart thermostat, cable box, etc.
Kerber: Consumers will be able to choose any product and have it automatically work with other products in the home. Many products will be free or heavily discounted as monetization shifts from the consumer to alternative business models.
TWICE: Describe the custom-installed home-automation market in 10 years?
Hintze: Way down the line, we see that the intelligent home – that final phase where a home is already predicting the personalization you require– will truly emerge. But we believe there will be more cross pollination among tech companies from the A/V, IT, and security worlds. So homes will not see three separate companies for these services; they will see one tech-management company, and there are plenty of successful examples of companies already using this model today. We’ll see industry standards for connectivity become adopted, allowing everything to connect and work together seamlessly. It won’t just be the smart home but smart living. (Take your preferences with you wherever you go.) The industry is just scratching the surface.
Kerber: As technology advances and interoperability becomes commonplace and the diversity of solutions entering the market grows, customization is still relevant. Custom installers will still advise clients on the products that best meet their needs, customize operation to meet their individual preferences, and support the growing number of connected products. Also, even if products are easy to install, there will always be a segment that prefers to have others do it for them.
Hintze: Both the DIY and custom-install channel will coexist 10 years from now. Hardware stores and plumbers exist side-by-side. I can buy all the parts and tools to fix my plumbing, but I will always have the option to pay someone to give me a turnkey service. We don’t believe there will be any changes to these options available to consumers.
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