It is a certainty inevitable that home automation becomes more of a reality and that disparate product categories will converge. Already tablet computers are being tasked with becoming part of the integrated entertainment of millions of consumers who appreciate being able to watch movies and read books on a single device.
But as time marches on more integration is inevitable and one of the best examples of the blending of WiFi, Internet radio and iTunes is Sonos, a wireless stereo system I recently wrote about and was quite impressed with. The company with a palindrome for a name rides on a home's WiFi network and allows you to wirelessly build an in-home audio system. It can play music residing on any computer or laptop and its remote control software runs on pretty much every device you can think of.
Still, Sonos is a tiny niche player and as Professor Mary Cronin points out in a recent article on TMCnet, as more IP-enabled consumer electronics devices are shipped, the opportunity to manage all this content across devices grows with it.
Cronin explains exactly what it takes and which "I" factors are needed for the smart home market to become the killer home opportunity. Here is the list:
- Intuitive: The iPad sets a new level of expectations for smart home controls. Consumers want to trade those rows of tiny buttons on separate remotes for a high resolution touch screen with easy to navigate icons and customized menus that handle all the required tasks from set up to the management of their connected devices and network accessible content.
- Integrated: Speaking of multiple devices and networked content, smarter home products and systems need to work seamlessly across previously separate networks - from home entertainment to security monitoring, energy management, cellular and even home health sensors.
- Interoperable: Integration is essential to today's consumer, but it can't come at the expense of interoperability among devices and networks. The next must-have smart device is just an announcement away, and we all want to be able to plug it in to our existing smart home configuration right out of the box.
- Immediate Access: Smart homes will make it easy to access, scan and manage every internet-connected device, piece of content, and home control functionality from anywhere - mobile phone, automobile, office or a hotel room on another continent as easily as from home base.
- Interactive: For home entertainment fun as well as for fine-grained control and automated management of HVAC, security, connected health devices and smart appliances, smart homes will support new levels of interactivity - not just between consumers and their smart products, but among the different home devices that need to communicate to each other.
Smart products whether they be for the home, car or healthcare will be an important focus at the world's first Smart Product Ecosystem Event October 5-6, 2010 at the Los Angeles Convention Center collocated with ITEXPO. You will want to be there to meet with the authority on the subject, Professor Mary Cronin and others who make up this rapidly accelerating space.
Consumer electronics growth is not slowing down and the opportunity to profit from and/or become the glue which binds future smart markets together is huge.