Integrated Platforms for Smarter Homes

Throughout our “IoT Industry Series” we have discussed how the Internet of Things is present and growing rapidly  in different industries like food and beverage, smart health, and animal health. This week we are discussing Smart Homes and the integrated platforms that exist to connect smart devices around the household.

“Smart Home” is the term commonly used to define a residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment audio & video systems, security, and camera systems that are capable of communication with one another and can be controlled remotely from any room in the house, or from any location in the world by smartphone or Internet.

Smart Homes are the latest addition to the IoT world and technology companies are making [and connecting] products to make homes smarter and users more engaged. Companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon have created products that connect all of these devices to one overall smart source.

Google Home

Google Home is a smart speaker developed by Google that enables users to speak voice commands to interact with services through the Home’s intelligent personal assistant called Google Assistant. Google Home integrates a large number of third-party integrated products that allow users to control the connected products and the device’s features entirely by voice. Google Home has integrated support for home automation features, letting users speak commands to the device to control smart home appliances.  

Apple Home

Apple was one of the first consumer-facing technology companies to commit to the smart technology for modern households. Apple created a software platform called IOS Home where you can easily control all  HomeKit accessories. “HomeKit” is a framework created by apple that provides accessories that are compatible with iPhones. HomeKit is where users can purchase products like sensors, automatic locks, and thermostats that are connected through the Apple Home application on all iPhone owners. Apple then created an on-line web and mobile shopping experience  that lists all the products that can be easily connected to one independent and individual source. The focus of Apple Home and Home Kit is to build your own smart home from the palm of your hand.

Samsung SmartThings

Samsung SmartThings is the control  center of your future smart home. Users can control, automate, and monitor their homes from anywhere in the world with the use of the SmartThings App. Similar to the products mentioned above, SmartThings by Samsung connects most of the [smart] products around the home into one simple source. Users can connect, control, and manage products like thermostats, smart locks, and security systems from SmartThings application in their smartphone.

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is a smart speaker developed by The device connects to the voice-controlled personal assistant Alexa. Similar to Google Home Alexa is designed to play music, set alarms, stream podcasts, provide the weather and traffic, playback audiobooks and provide a hub for future smart devices in your home..

All of these products are the new wave of the IoT and smart product industry. Internet of Things is always making life easier and more connected for users. Thanks to IoT, homes are being built today with all of these connected features. It is only a matter of time until we can personally speak to every appliance and electrical device in our home

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Competition at Home - A Look at the Connected Home Market

This week marks Apples now infamous World Wide Developer Conference. Amongst other announcements, Apple announced their push into consumer products for the connected home. This came in the form of their connected home platform HomeKit’s, own iOS application. This application will allow users access to control any compatible devices. Currently this list includes many major IoT product manufacturers such as; ConnectSense, NanoLeaf, and Phillips with many more partnerships announced this week and at various conferences (see: DigitalTrends).

This announcement coincides with the news that Apple is allowing accessibility to Siri’s features for application developers via an API. This will not only unleash the full functionality of the iPhone to developers but will also allow Apple to push into a space largely dominated by Amazon’s Echo suite of products. All of this new functionality will be released with iOS 10, some time in September.

Now, many people knew this knew this news was coming, including their fierce rivals in the space, Google and Amazon. Each with their own platforms, Home and Echo, respectively. Amazon was able to be first to market, which has its advantages, and disadvantages. The Echo has been on the market for over a year now and has seen consistent growth, seen through the gradual eating up of the wi-fi connected speaker market previously dominated by Bose and Sonos  (actual sales figures are not public). This has allowed them to garner the attention of the early adopters in the IoT world. However, the majority of consumers still associate Amazon with being an Ecommerce platform. What will happen when the two major US tech companies come out with their own home-unifying platform?

Google’s soft launch date of their device is November, around the same time that iOS 10 will be released. Keep an eye out in the Fall, as more and more devices go to market, the connected home space will become a crowded market. There is the need of a unifying force. With so many connected devices being offered, each with their own applications, a central platform has to be created. Without this platform the IoT will not be fully adopted in the home, as more and more devices are connected, confusion will rise and eventually lead to a decrease in sales for connected products. The competition between Google, Apple, and Amazon in this space will drive the best possible consumer experience and allow for flexibility in developer platforms.

The true question is, will one of these platforms come out on top? Or will we have a situation like the video game vertical, where Microsoft and Sony split market share 50/50. The idea of platform exclusivity is very much a reality (see: Google’s Purchase of Nest Labs for over $3 Billion) so will we see people purchasing more than one home-unifying device for access to certain product? And how will that affect voice commands, the devices consumer value proposition?