How is your refrigerator feeling today? Opportunities in IoT for smart homes

Do you want your appliances connected to a WiFi or other network in your home? Do you want a video-based security and surveillance solution that can identify the people who live in your home or are possible intruders? Do you want a system that monitors for broken water pipes when you’re away on vacation?

There are myriad solutions that enable the smart home and there is no end in the creativity shown by product and service vendors in offering these types of solutions. With 1.8 billion households worldwide in 2012, there are many growth opportunities in this sector. But the trick is finding target segments for these solutions, creating easy-to-use solutions and offering solutions at prices that are reasonable enough to attract the target segments.

Four categories of smart home solutions

Undoubtedly there are more solutions than mentioned below, but we at Analysys Mason believe these are the major categories.

  • Security and surveillance – These solutions provide physical security for residents and assets inside a home. These solutions are most commonly provided by security and surveillance providers, although there is a fairly robust do-it-yourself market for these solutions as well. Solutions can include video-based surveillance. We have written formerly about this category in What to expect from security and surveillance monitoring solutions in an IoT world.
  • Environmental and utility management – These solutions allow a resident to remotely adjust energy consumption for various home sub-systems and other environmental aspects of the home. The most common energy management is for HVAC and lighting in homes, but there are also solutions for window shades, ceiling fans and sky lights.
  • Connected household goods – These solutions are linked to household goods, sometimes called whitegoods. Solutions and concepts abound for connected refrigerators that proactively monitor inventory (i.e., how much cheese and orange juice do you have available for your kids to eat and drink); connected washing machines that determine if the user is over or under utilizing soap; and connected ovens that notify your family via text message when your chocolate chip cookies are finished. The connecting of small appliances and tools (e.g., microwave ovens, toasters, mixers/blenders, power rotary saws, drill presses and power sanders) would also fit into this category.
  • Connected consumer electronics – These solutions allow residents to remotely or wirelessly interact with all sorts of consumer electronics including connected cameras, video cameras, video games, picture frames, various personal computing devices, printers, scanners, televisions and more. The distinctions between connected household goods and connected consumer electronics are rapidly becoming artificial. However, for purposes of categorization we assume consumer electronics are devices that have historically had some sort of analog or digital media presentment associated with them, whereas household goods have not.

One more category deserves mention, although it does not really fit neatly into the categories above. As automobiles become connected with a variety of applications, the integration of automotive and smart home applications is an interesting prospect. Imagine searching for the closest furniture store on a tablet in your home and wirelessly sending that information to your automobile’s GPS unit. The linking together of the connected car and connected home is a very real likelihood. We have written a prior blog on the connected automobile called Connected cars: what’s in store.

Figure 1: Smart home solution categories and examples [Source: Analysys Mason, 2013]

Figure 1: Smart home solution categories and examples
[Source: Analysys Mason, 2013]

As we move from an M2M world to the Internet of Things (IoT) we will increasingly see the value of aggregating and analyzing data from various devices in the connected home. For example, the data collected from a security/surveillance system will be able to proactively determine if the person parking her car in your driveway is your daughter or not. If so, the energy management solution will turn on the air conditioning in the house and some interior and exterior lights. If not, the energy management solution will turn on exterior security lighting and notify your smartphone that an unidentified visitor is in your driveway. The aggregation and systematic use of these data is one of the M2M-to-IoT transitions we described in a prior blog post entitled Progression from M2M to the Internet of Things: an introductory blog.

However, the business models for offering the full complement of smart home services are not fully resolved: this we admit. We expect various service providers and vendors to innovate and offer equipment, applications, connectivity and ancillary services that power the smart home. Some services might be purchased by the home owner. Some services might be provided free by household appliance manufacturers as a way to increase the quality of products they manufacture. Some services might be bundled and offered by existing companies in the security/surveillance sector. The development of these business models and offering of integrated solutions is another indication that we are moving from an M2M to an IoT world.

In addition, we anticipate – and have already seen in some cases – greater intelligence in end-point devices, thereby facilitating more data collection. These devices will have enough intelligence to selectively send data at appropriate times. In addition, we expect higher degrees of power management of these devices to minimize the overall consumption of energy. This movement toward integrated offerings, device intelligence and device power management also signals a change from M2M to IoT.

Share your thoughts about how IoT can better enable the smart home. Do you use any of these solutions in your home today? Do you want your oven texting you?

Thanks and stay connected for next month’s posting of my series here on Bosch´s IoT blog.


About the author

Steve Hilton

Steve Hilton

Steve Hilton is a co-founder and President at MachNation, the leading insight services firm researching Internet of Things (IoT) middleware and platforms. His primary areas of expertise include competitive positioning, marketing media development, cloud services, small and medium businesses and sales channels. Steve serves on Cisco’s IoT World Forum Steering Committee where he is co-chairperson of the Service Provide working group. Steve has 23 years’ experience in technology and communications marketing. Prior to founding MachNation, he built and ran the IoT/M2M and Enterprise practice areas at Analysys Mason. He has also held senior positions at Yankee Group, Lucent Technologies, TDS (Telephone and Data Systems) and Cambridge Strategic Management Group. Steve is a frequent speaker at industry and client events, and publishes articles and blogs in several respected trade journals. He holds a degree in economics from the University of Chicago and a Master’s degree in marketing from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Steve is a guest author for the Bosch ConnectedWorld Blog.