• Smart Home Technology
  • IoT
  • Smart Meter
  • Intelligent Building Technologies

Smart Home Technology Is Pervasive but Still Has Far to Go

Neil Strother
Jul 30, 2020

Guidehouse Insights

A new Z-Wave Alliance report on connected technology and the smart home gets it mostly right. “Smart home technology has become pervasive,” writes Mitchell Klein, executive director of Z-Wave Alliance, in his State of the Ecosystem Report. No question, smart home products have become common. Millions of homes now have smart thermostats, voice-controlled smart speakers, or smart plugs. The report also highlights the following trends supporting growth in the smart home market and beyond:

  • Interoperability and standards are crucial for continued market success: “We see a future where all the standards, including Z-Wave, and others, can all work together seamlessly to create more freedom of choice for consumers, a better product experience, and an easy-to-navigate development process for manufacturers.”
  • Technology is moving to sectors beyond residential: “Connected tech has permeated apartment buildings and multi-dwelling units, hospitality, offices and enterprise, new home construction, and industries like healthcare and insurance.”
  • Greater contextual awareness is on the horizon: “We are closer than ever to a context-aware smart home. In the next evolution, applications will respond and adapt automatically to changes in the home and environment through sensing technology that can detect user proximity, identify individuals within their home, or environmental factors.”

Klein goes on to say, “We see a future where all standards can work together to create a seamless product experience for consumers, and an easy-to-navigate development process for manufacturers.” Guidehouse Insights envisions such a future, too.

Stakeholders Must Collaborate to Galvanize Smart Home Interoperability

But the reality is much more work. Cooperation among stakeholders is needed to bring about the seamless smart home experience. Only recently we have seen movement on device security and interoperability. For instance, in late June 2020, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute released a new global standard for cybersecurity regarding the Internet of Things (IoT) that "Establishes a security baseline for internet-connected consumer products and provides a basis for future IoT certification schemes.” A new connectivity standard called connected home over IP (CHIP) also shows great promise. However, the backers of this effort are still working out issues and actual devices based on CHIP are not expected until the first part of 2021 at the earliest.

IoT:  Not So Easy to Install After All

Anyone that has purchased a smart home device often discovers the installation process can be more complex than advertised. Be forewarned, frustration can be an unwelcome partner as part of the bargain. I underscore this point based on my own experience, having had my own difficulties installing smart thermostats despite being fairly handy. Average consumers should not have to put up with this agony once they purchase smart home devices.

While these devices are pervasive, I am not ready to declare market victory just yet. The foundations are coming along to support a robust market but it will take several more years to reach greater market penetration with lower frustration. For more analysis of the future of this market, check out the recent Guidehouse Insights report, Market Data: Smart Home IoT.