Light Reading
Every component of the smart home ecosystem is changing, creating new opportunities – and challenges – for service providers.

Tracing Technology Changes in the Smart Home

Tom Kerber
8/27/2014
50%
50%

Multiple players, from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to service providers, are now competing in the smart home, each attempting to grow and shape the market.

Manufacturers are adding connectivity and integrating with other products and systems using application programming interfaces (APIs) in the cloud. Systems providers are using the centralized control hubs and the growing ecosystem of products that support common protocols such as Z-Wave and ZigBee Alliance to offer a group of interoperable products.

These technology advancements are impacting both home networks and the broader smart home value chain, and understanding these trends is essential for all players. Each component of the smart home ecosystem is changing, from the technology in individual products to the gateway sitting atop the home network and connected to the cloud.

Technology changes impacting smart products
Manufacturers are integrating sensors into smart products in growing numbers, creating a data stream that is the key to intelligence. The connection to the cloud enables that data stream to be stored and analyzed, resulting in the potential for new product and service offerings that add substantial value to the end product.

Product categories are also changing and merging. The resulting combined sensor products are much more powerful than individual sensor products, and mash-ups are essential to differentiation. As the competitive landscape for connectivity-related features evolves, the market will judge success based on the value created from more advanced features. Smart home solution providers must add value by integrating external data sources. For example, by combining weather data with a door sensor, a household can be notified if their garage door is open and a thunderstorm is approaching.

Technology changes impacting smart home networks
The Internet of Things will require scale, but today, the smart home platform that runs on a hub or gateway is application-specific, meaning that it must be upgraded when new devices are added to the system.

The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) addressed this deficiency by creating a group to transition to IP-based standards. Thread, advocated by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), is another IP-based solution. Internet protocol is the key to non-application-specific gateways and peer-to-peer networking. Presenting standardized upper layers on top of an IPv6 transport layer allows gateways to be non-application-specific and forward-interoperable.

Protocol vendors are resistant to implementing IP because of the higher overhead associated with an IP frame, and because it removes a competitive barrier. These protocol vendors -- particularly Z-Wave, ZigBee, and DECT ULE -- have strong allies in the service providers that value the large ecosystem of interoperable products these alliances have built over the years. However, the ultimate benefits of innovations that expand interoperability will likely outweigh the cost, and the market will start to see more IP implementation in the smart home, especially as OEMs move in this direction.

Technology changes impacting gateways
The Open Services Gateway Initiative (OSGi) has created standards for middleware embedded in devices that allows applications to run on top of the operating system without affecting the core functionality of the device. The middleware is ideally suited for gateway products, where the core functionality -- VoIP, broadband and video delivery -- is protected and isolated from other hosted applications. Creating this isolation and protection is important to operators and gateway vendors that face financial penalties for extended downtime.

Another initiative, the Home Gateway Initiative (HGI) , is expanding into the home network and other home devices to provide end-to-end solutions and new applications. The smart home is currently one of HGI's key focus areas, and one of the key components is an abstraction layer for the many different protocols in the home. The abstraction layer will work with leading protocols such as ZigBee and Z-Wave to give application developers a common way to address and interact with devices, independent of the type of local connection. This way, a ZigBee doorbell and a Z-Wave doorbell look identical to an app developer.

The value of interoperability
While the business objectives of service providers, retailers and manufacturers are not aligned, the ultimate value for the consumer is in interoperability. Parks Associates research shows that consumers want and value smart products as part of a larger smart home system. Already more than 40% of US broadband households are willing to purchase a smart home package that offers some combination of home management, safety or security features. Smart home service providers are offering solutions to meet this consumer demand. Manufacturers, on the other hand, offer point solutions with limited interoperability.

It is in the best interests of OEMs to use APIs and peer-to-peer communications schemes to provide interoperability and push intelligence away from a central controller to the edge, where products can continue to innovate.

Networking solutions that provide interoperability at the scale of the Internet of Things will be the long-term winners in the home controls market.

— Tom Kerber, Director, Research, Home Controls & Energy, Parks Associates

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
9/3/2014 | 1:00:50 PM
Re: Smarter than the average bear
Which leads to the question whether smart homes do, in fact, enhance security. 

Just imagine all the possibilities for revenge porn when you have Internet-connected cameras all over the house!
jhodgesk1s
50%
50%
jhodgesk1s,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/28/2014 | 5:13:19 PM
Re: Smarter than the average bear
I think the greatest challenge for the industry is to convince users that Smart Homes enhance security, not compromise it.
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
8/27/2014 | 7:55:25 PM
Smarter than the average bear

The challenge for smart homes is finding useful applications. I can think of a few, but mostly what we're seeing now is lights that change colors automatically. Hardly lifechanging. 

More Blogs from Column
CSPs armed with real-time operational intelligence are uniquely positioned to realize the true monetary value of the new data economy.
Share your views on the next five years and find out what your peers think too.
The complexity of cloud service sourcing will boost demand for infrastructure-as-a-service.
Automation saves you from repeating the same things over and over again.
Terabit Demonstrator Project to be unveiled at SC14 in New Orleans.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
From 4G to 5G: Alcatel-Lucent's Dave Geary

11|25|14   |   09:09   |   (1) comment


Dave Geary, President of Wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, talks about the evolution of the 4G market, small cells, partnerships, 5G and the IoT.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building a Secure Telefonica Network With Huawei's High-End Firewall

11|24|14   |   4:37   |   (0) comments


Andrew Davies, IP architect of the Telefonica, a leading digital communications company, discusses the Huawei security gateway solution and putting the solution into the testbed.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Partners with Spirent to Verify CE12816's 10GE Port & TRILL Networking Capabilities

11|24|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Spirent Communications is the world's leading supplier for telecom testing appliances and solutions. Spirent has been in a close partnership with Huawei for a long time.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Airlines & Its ICT Transformation

11|24|14   |   2:07   |   (0) comments


In this video, Saudi Airlines discusses its network problems and how Huawei's Agile Network is its all-in-one solution.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Agile Switch Benefiting Saudi Arabia's Yamamah Hospital

11|24|14   |   2:40   |   (0) comments


Saudi Arabia's Yamamah Hospital speaks about how Huawei's Agile Switch has improved the medical service's network infrastructure.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
FanPlay & Huawei Build a Wireless Agile Smart Stadium

11|24|14   |   2:13   |   (0) comments


FanPlay is a cloud-based white label service, which is effectively a football fan engagement platform underpinned by mobile payment technology.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Building an Agile Stadium

11|24|14   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Stadiums may be thousands of tons of concrete and steel, but they now need to be agile. Being at the stadium may not be as alluring as it once was. Sports franchises and stadium operators discuss how to get fans back.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Helps ChinaCache Tackle Challenges in the Internet Industry

11|24|14   |   3:09   |   (0) comments


ChinaCache is China's largest content distribution network supplier. Huawei's CE12800 has provided ChinaCache with very strong support in its establishment of an infrastructure network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Cefinity on Managed Security Services & Next-Generation Firewall

11|24|14   |   7:05   |   (0) comments


Cefinity is a cloud management service provider in Southeast Asia. Ivan Zhang, CEO of the company, discusses the implementation of security service management in the cloud era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Agile Gateway in the Eyes of Cefinity

11|24|14   |   2:11   |   (0) comments


Cefinity is a managed service provider for enterprise networks. The company currently uses Huawei's AR series routers for the most complete range of functions. CEO Ivan Zhang speaks about the advantages of the AR series routers.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
CTO of Bus-Online Talks About Huawei's Agile Gateway

11|24|14   |   2:53   |   (0) comments


Bus-Online covers around 100 million users everyday. In addition to providing mobile TV, and advertising services to the public, Bus-Online has also entered the field of mobile Internet.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Amsterdam ArenA as an Agile Campus

11|24|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Amsterdam ArenA, home of the Ajax soccer team, can be a crowded space. ArenA has partnered with Huawei to work on bringing ample bandwidth to 53,000 people at the same time.
Upcoming Live Events
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 8-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
Irish Telecom outlines the rise of VoIP technology, including its adoption within businesses and their perception of its quality.
Hot Topics
Bell Labs Chief Slams 'Toy' Networks
Robert Clark, 11/19/2014
$38.3M: Ain't That a Kik in the SMS
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/20/2014
Do You Have a 2020 Vision?
Dennis Mendyk, Vice President of Research, Heavy Reading, 11/21/2014
Operators Should Block Ads to Get Their Cut, Startup Says
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 11/24/2014
$35B+ Spectrum Auction Dings Verizon, Shines Dish
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/24/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed