Stake Your Claim to the Connected Home

Control4, 2gig Technologies, iControl Networks and Vivint share their expertise on home automation and the residential landscape.

Home automation is the name of the game this month, one which many more businesses have decided to stake their claim to over the past year. (Hot news is AT&T’s development of its “Digital Life Services” group, see sidebar on page 19). The “connected home” is the tipping point in residential and home automation and some industry leaders who weighed in this month infer this is just the beginning. Turn the page and hear what else they had to say on the changing residential landscape and what dealers and integrators need to know to play their hand well in this growing market.

What is changing in the residential marketplace? We’ve witnessed the advent of lighting, HVAC and other user-friendly remote controls and what apps can bring to the table. What’s on the forefront that our dealer and integrator community needs to be aware of?

Eric Smith, chief architect, Control4, Salt Lake City: These trends are causing consumers to be much more aware of automation technologies than any other time in history, which is helping our industry reach a scale never before seen. This new scale is causing many manufacturers to create “connected devices,” such as Sub-Zero refrigerators and Wolf Appliance ranges. They have created connected appliances that can be controlled from any user interface on a Control4 system and send alerts about important information, such as the refrigerator door being left open or the oven reaching the desired temperature.

Todd Santiago, president, 2gig Technologies Inc., Carlsbad, Calif.: Home security is the launching pad for a variety of home services—lighting, locks and thermostats are the tip of the iceberg. These basic services will soon become the norm rather than the exception. Homeowners will begin consolidating the control and management of various subsystems around the house to their mobile phone, tablet or control panel on the wall. These subsystems include more robust energy management (including detailed consumption information) and entertainment (for example, opportunities to integrate and distribute audio, video and personal communications). While many dealers and integrators are already well positioned, others will need to be prepared to install and support these systems. Manufacturers must offer the integration of these new solutions to a system that is intuitive for customers to use and foolproof for the dealers to install.

Greg Roberts, vice president of Marketing, iControl Networks Inc., Redwood City, Calif.: Change in the residential marketplace has only just begun. The concept of the connected home is becoming a reality for the mass market and with it comes a significant number of consumer benefits. However, the compelling solutions are not one-feature-point applications such as remote lighting or HVAC control. The consumer doesn’t want multiple user interfaces in and out of the home to manage. They want a comprehensive, all-inclusive solution that enables them to secure and manage their home from one simple, intuitive user interface—regardless of the device they choose. They want the touchscreen in the home to look, feel and operate like the mobile application and Web portal used outside of the home. The end result of a fully-integrated solution is that it enables more benefits for the user: greater peace of mind; the ability to stay connected with their home and family while away; money savings on energy bills; and greater convenience in managing the home.

Alex Dunn, chief operating officer, Vivint Inc., Provo, Utah: Although new services like lighting control, HVAC and remote controls are available, the adoption rate among security companies is extremely low. They need to embrace these services and focus on integrating them into their existing offerings. To facilitate integration and adoption, it’s important to have a panel that allows you to update its software over the air. The Vivint panel does this, which allows us to upgrade customers to new services with ease, eliminating the need for customers to complete any additional steps.

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