IoT Strategies

Icontrol Adds Analytics for Smarter Homes

If the first phase of the smart home is about adding sensors to light bulbs and door locks, the second phase is about collecting and analyzing data to make the smart home even smarter. Icontrol is moving on to the second phase, announcing that it has teamed up with Canadian company mnubo to bring data analytics to its popular smart home platform.

There's been no question that analytics will play a large role in connected homes of the future. It's a short leap from telling your home to flip the lights when the front door opens to having the smart home system understand that a door opening means the lights should come on, or that at 6 p.m. the family is headed home and the lights and temperature should be adjusted accordingly. With data collected over time, a machine learning system for the smart home can start to predict user preferences.

Icontrol believes it has an advantage in this emerging phase of the market because its scale means it has more data to work with than many of its competitors. The company is the dominant platform provider in the US cable industry, and Icontrol says its software is already tracking more than 26 million sensors and devices. The platform is expected to manage more than 100 billion transactions worldwide in 2015. (See Icontrol Embraces New Devices and Home Automation Wars Heat Up.)

mnubo, meanwhile, brings its own success to the table. Founded in 2012, mnubo works across numerous verticals in the Internet of Things space, including wearables, industrial, healthcare, automotive and smart buildings. The company says the number of connected objects using its system has grown 400% over the last year, an amount that's sure to skyrocket with the new Icontrol partnership.

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Some analysts have suggested that the smart home market is slowing down, and/or that it is due for a shake-out as consumers struggle to realize the value of some new connected devices. (See Analysts Predict Smart Home Slow Down.)

However, industry watchers also conclude that services that take advantage of multiple connected devices are helping to bridge the gap between early adoption and mainstream smart home deployments. Parks Associates, for example, notes that major service providers are gaining traction with professionally monitored security systems, with the result that the security market grew to 23% penetration in 2014 after years of hovering around 20%.

Analyst Michael Wolf also points out that security isn't the only area where service providers are making progress in the smart home. The desire for energy efficiency is driving smart thermostat companies to make deals with utilities, which are using those devices to help customers better manage their consumption.

As connected devices are paired together, and as they're bundled with services, the value of the smart home will continue to go up. And the more those devices and services are integrated, the more important analytics and predictive technologies will become.

"The smart home is at a point similar to the early days of the smart phone -- the technology is there, but the full potential hasn't been realized," said Letha McLaren, chief marketing officer of Icontrol Networks in a statement. "Right now we're seeing a lot of single-device automation, but there hasn't been enough data for a true 'smart home' where devices work together seamlessly to better anticipate lifestyles. Icontrol is one of the first to have the volume of data required for this level of analysis. We're excited to partner with mnubo to show consumers how a smart home ecosystem can enhance their lives in ways they haven't even thought of yet."

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

Mitch Wagner 7/2/2015 | 3:37:49 PM
Smart home Still looks like a solution in search of a problem. It's really not hard to turn the lights on and off manually. Just flip a switch. Boom. Done. 

Connecting appliances to repair services is more promising. Be nice to know if the refrigerator is about to fail before all the food in it goes bad, or if the washing machine is going to give up before you need it to wash your undershirts. 

But even there, there are security problems. Smart consumers might want to wait a decade after the first implementation to let the bugs get ironed out. Let somebody else be the early adopter. 
Joe Stanganelli 6/30/2015 | 10:41:25 PM
Multiple connected devices The problem with using a platform or service that leverages multiple connected devices is that all of those devices then become exponentially more vulnerable.

Sure, the grand IoT vision is that the interconnectedness of everything will allow us to live those carefree lives of the future that dystopian sci-fis tell us is so great...but, I daresay, the risk-reward ratio leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to connecting my laundry with my fridge with my printer.
msilbey 6/30/2015 | 1:16:54 PM
Privacy issues One note of caution: More data collected means more opportunity for data breaches and abuse of privacy, a point that Icontrol doesn't address in its latest news announcement. Consumers already turn over gobs of information to Google, Apple and Facebook, but that doesn't mean there won't be new backlash against collectors of data from smart home sensors. 
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