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Introduction to the Connected Home

November 29, 2011

Connected Home

What is a Connected Home

The term ‘connected home‘ has been around for quite some time but what does it actually mean? It draws roots from the more familiar home automation idea. The connected home knows where you are, what you are doing and is able to predict what you need. Imagine interactive lighting control with lights following you and switching off behind you.

Imagine intelligent thermostat control with an energy-saving aspect, maintaining just the temperature you want in every room, and cooling the entire house when empty. Imagine your bathroom sending vital information about your health to your GP. Imagine your fridge adding milk to your electronic shopping list. Imagine your favourite music and entertainment programs playing at preferred times in preferred rooms.

How Technology Enables Change

The recent emergence of a technical foundation enabling the delivering of consumer-friendly connected-home services is fast driving developments in this area. The availability of solutions which for example allow network service providers to offer connected-home services can quickly bring these offerings into the mainstream, predict analysts at Parks Associates, a market research and consulting firm focused on residential product and service segments. These developments change the rules in a game that was previously reserved for consumers able to afford purchasing expensive equipment and contracting narrow specialists to set up security and other niche solutions.

The Connected-Home Ecosystem

According to a study by Frost and Sullivan the connected home ecosystem can be said to comprise of four major components – telemetry, networks, communication services and home entertainment. Let’s look at each one in a bit more detail.

Networks
In July this year both Comcast and Verizon announced the launching of video-rich cloud-based services that are designed to be easy to use, flexible to configure and readily extendable. These services are enabled by the fact that more and more devices are manufactured to comply with connected-home wireless telemetry standards, finally allowing network service providers to take advantage of this much-discussed opportunity. Networks are entering the arena and offering services such as home security at a better deal than similarly priced security-only solutions. According to the Parks Associates research the trend shows big networks deploying 50 percent of all connected-home services by 2012.

Telemetry
Telemetry is the technology allowing remote measurement and conveyance of information. Apart from wireless data transfer mechanisms such as radio or infrared, it also includes data transferred over media such as a telephone or computer network, optical or other wired communications. Using broadband connectivity instead of phone lines to run connected-home security enables a multitude of new possibilities such as video camera surveillance and entry points sensor-based monitoring.

Communication services
The obvious connection with regards to communication services is wireless. Consumers are getting more and more likely to access their world through mobile devices. Such mobile options and flexibility will allow access to the connected home from any place the person happens to be. This will allow easy interaction with the home environment and access to connected home services independent of location.

Home entertainment
Entertainment in the connected home of the future takes the viewer experience to a whole new level, offering instant access to music, videos and photos regardless of where they are stored. Favorite content follows the connected consumer throughout the home, providing uninterrupted experience and multitudes of personalization options. Stay with us for the second part of this article where we elaborate from the point of view of Bianor’s iMediaShare, a fantastic new addition to the modern home, transforming any smartphone into a media box to bring online content and subscriptions to a nearby TV screen, with no hardware or cables required.

An Interesting Future

Great players such as IBM are preparing to join in, expecting revenues that flow from dispensing connected homes data, shares Scott Burnett, global consumer electronics leader for IBM. According to him many verticals in the industry will welcome access to data from connected devices. The competition is expected to be fierce. Every type of service provider of today will be attempting to enter our homes bringing the promise of improving our wellbeing, keeping us safe and ensuring we’re entertained. The applications of these new technologies is said to extend greatly beyond the services currently offered. Existing services will be expanded with advanced capabilities. By addressing energy management with an interactive home control platform, the service providers will be able to offer ‘green home’ value-added features.

The result for us consumers is going to be a lot more choices. Please share your opinion on the future of connected home by leaving a comment below.

Author: Maria Williamson

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