Alexa, bring me my slippers. Siri, pour me a cocktail. Our devices may not make life this easy for us quite yet, but we are definitely heading in that direction. Homes and the connected devices within them are getting smarter, and it’s an exciting time to be in the technology space.
The Smart Home Summit is an event dedicated to the domestic device ecosystem where industry pros gather to discuss and understand smart home technologies and trends. Home-focused brand giants like Airbnb, Vivint and Coldwell Banker attend the Summit to keep tabs on innovation and interoperability and to understand how they can position themselves for success in the home of the future. I attended on Phunware’s behalf for the same reason—I want to make sure our solutions for the home make sense for where technology is going. Here’s what I learned.
Trends in the Smart Home
Enabling devices to communicate and share information for greater efficiency, automation, security and comfort is what drives the residential IoT market. Smart devices are already making serious headway into our home environments.
- Smart thermostats, locks and lights allow users to remotely adjust temperature, security and lighting via smartphone.
- Smart meters monitor energy consumption and allow homeowners to identify and adjust wasteful activities and appliances.
- Smart appliances help us monitor our supply levels and remind us when we need to take action.
- Virtual assistants are blurring the boundaries between device operating systems to become our constant companions.
There’s also a big focus today on “Home Observation,” the practice of using data to create user profiles and proactively trigger actions in the home based on the user’s behavior. For example: let’s say every morning I wake up and adjust my thermostat to 75, then go to the kitchen, turn on the light and get the coffee machine going. After a week of this routine, the system might send me a push notification asking if I would like to automate it. If I said Yes, this sequence would happen on its own going forward.
The Fragmented IoT Landscape
IoT is in its early days and the industry is very fragmented. Every company seems to be going in a different direction with its hardware. Because there is no standard of communication between devices, most devices exist in closed ecosystems where they can only communicate with others by the same manufacturer. If I have smart devices from ten different brands in my home, I will likely need ten different apps to control them.
Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Home are popular platforms attempting to solve this fragmentation, but there is still a long way to go. Despite their popularity, they are sold only to individual households, and no single brand has taken ownership as the standard platform for unifying smart devices under one user interface.
Most IoT companies are focused on building hardware for consumers: light bulbs, thermostats, locks and so on—not on controlling multi-unit residences at scale. This is mainly because they lack a platform that can consolidate multiple devices into one user interface to be sold as one complete solution.
While the home IoT landscape remains fragmented, Phunware’s residential solution includes capabilities to integrate common devices such as smart thermostats, smart home automation and smart lighting controls, among others. Mobile’s not going anywhere, even as the number of smart in-home devices climbs. It makes sense for the smartphone to be the hub of the home. Phunware’s residential solution can connect residents with their building services, community and smart devices in their homes, providing one easy-to-use interface for smart living that’s continually getting smarter.