Light Reading

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        ADD A COMMENT
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
The web services giants such as Facebook, Amazon and Google might be defining the next generation of 'carrier class' networking technology.
As carriers are partnering with a growing amount of third-party service providers, payments are the next logical step in growing these partnerships.
There are many variants of the CRAN concept, but all have the potential to deliver major capex and opex savings in the network.
The FCC's upcoming 600 MHz spectrum is a novel idea to foster a competitive framework for the future.
Network appliances can play an important role in policy-driven virtualized networks, argues Dan Joe Barry.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Network architects aiming to upgrade their networks to support agile, open, virtualized services in the 21st century need to consider new criteria when choosing between technology suppliers.
Live Streaming Video
BTE 2015 Sponsor Keynote: HP
Dr. Prodip Sen, CTO, Network Functions Virtualization, HP
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat Demo

7|2|15   |   10:53   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Nicolas Lemieux demonstrates how Red Hat is driving innovation through open source communities.
LRTV Custom TV
Red Hat's Approach to OpenStack Adoption

7|2|15   |   5:17   |   (0) comments


Red Hat's Radhesh Balakrishnan outlines his company's open source strategy for both enterprises and telcos.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Goes Mobile With vEPC

7|2|15   |   1:12   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Gabriel Brown discusses results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade that shows a clear commitment by mobile operators to move quickly to virtual EPC deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Business Sense of SDN

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Results of a Brocade-sponsored survey show that CSPs have a clear sense of SDN use cases but are wrestling with the business case. Sterling Perrin of Heavy Reading looks behind the numbers.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Will Be Here Sooner Than You Think

7|2|15   |   2:22   |   (0) comments


Forget the usual ten-year cycle for new technologies – NFV will be a core part of CSP networks in five years, based on results of a Brocade-sponsored survey, says Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell.
LRTV Custom TV
The New IP Gains Traction With CSPs

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Roz Roseboro of Heavy Reading analyzes results of a Light Reading survey sponsored by Brocade showing that CSPs are getting serious about making the transition to the New IP era.
LRTV Custom TV
It's (Real) Time for Analytics

7|2|15   |   1:42   |   (0) comments


Heavy Reading's Jim Hodges looks at how CSPs say they plan to use analytics to deploy new services in real time as part of The New IP, based on results of a survey sponsored by Brocade.
LRTV Documentaries
IoT in Action

6|30|15   |   1:39   |   (7) comments


Two co-workers discuss the benefits of IoT technology.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson Opens Up on OPNFV

6|30|15   |   14:16   |   (1) comment


Martin Bäckström, VP and head of industry area Datacom at Ericsson, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the emergence of OPNFV, the importance of standards and Ericsson's OPNFV plans.
LRTV Custom TV
NetNumber Founder Discusses NFV/SDN Impact on SP Networks

6|26|15   |   4:15   |   (0) comments


NetNumber Founder Doug Ranalli examines why SPs need a new network infrastructure for service agility. While NFV and SDN are the tools, the old ways of thinking about signaling control are inhibitors. Doug provides his recommendations.
LRTV Custom TV
Orchestrating NFV vCPE Services Across Multivendor Networks

6|26|15   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Nirav Modi provides an overview of vCPE, the fastest-growing NFV use case, showing how Cyan's Blue Planet orchestrates vCPE services across a multivendor infrastructure to rapidly deliver new managed services for business customers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE at LTE Summit Amsterdam 2015

6|26|15   |     |   (0) comments


As one of the leading global telecommunications providers, ZTE presented its cutting-edge technology at LTE World Summit 2015 in Amsterdam. On display at ZTE's booth were the latest R&D achievements in wireless, 5G development, HetNet, deep convergence of FDD and TDD, and RCS/IMD/iSDN/vCN.
Upcoming Live Events
September 16-17, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Who's Feeding Fiber to LinkNYC Hotspots?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 6/29/2015
Colt to Jettison Ailing IT Business
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/30/2015
Eurobites: Activist Investor Takes Stake in AlcaLu
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 6/30/2015
What's a Gigabit Good For?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/1/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Casa Systems has been going from strength to strength over the last couple of years. In 2013, it became the first vendor to ship an integrated CCAP device -- the ...
Cedrik Neike, SVP of Global Service Provider, Service Delivery, at Cisco, talks to Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders about solving service provider customer problems in a virtualized, DevOps world, including multivendor support and the future of network procurement.
Cats with Phones