Greetings from CES 2014
CES, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the Walhalla for gadget freaks and technology chasers has closed its doors on a very successful edition this January 2014. The number of visitors exceeded 150,000, which is more than the population of a medium-size city and 3,200 companies had their booth and staff camping on the premises for four buzzing days.
By the way, the first CES edition took place in 1967 and was held in New York. 100 companies were exhibiting and the number of visitors amounted to 17,500.
Next to the traditional flood of new TVs (curved), smart phones (also curved), tablets and gadgets (“wearables”), the main topic and prevailing trend on the industry’s agenda was the Internet of Things, and more specific: “the Smart Home”.
In my opinion, there is little doubt that ZigBee will be the wireless technology of choice for the Smart Home, because it is the only open and worldwide standard available. Its ultra low power consumption allow Smart Home applications to run on coin cell batteries for many years, never needing battery replacement or not needing batteries at all (e.g. lights switches powered by simply clicking).
But also specifically the largest operators and satellite providers are shipping several millions of new generation set-top boxes that contain both WiFi and ZigBee. By providing ZigBee in the home, operators offer a scalable solution from stand-alone sensors to cloud-based services, based on an open industry standard and operating in a worldwide uniform license free frequency band. The set-top box becomes the home control box, the connectivity hub for all Smart Home applications and the gateway to cloud applications for remote home control and management.
Regional differences: Three smart home application groups
We from GreenPeak see mainly these Smart Home application groups in the market: Home security, home care and energy efficiency. They are based on differences in regional markets. In Europe, energy efficiency that makes our homes greener is number one in the trend hit-list. In the US, home owners are adopting security services as their first Smart Home application, and in Japan, home care that allows assisted living for elderly people is the first runner.
As every home has its own specific home automation needs that are defined by the occupants (if it is a family with children or an elderly couple), by the construction (is it a large house, with a floor and cellar) and by the interest of the people who live there (comfort seekers or energy savers), the combination of these different profiles will result in different needs for home management applications.
All applications run under the same open ZigBee communication standard, and enable to start thinking about integrating the different sensor applications and linking their intelligence to create the real smart home that enhances our quality of life.
Currently, the applications needed are available, but do not share a common communication platform and are therefore not able to be integrated. Sensor devices are not all that smart on their own, but require each other to become smart. The same motion sensor used in the security system needs to be integrated in the light control system that switches off the lights or heating when nobody is in a room.
When entire home systems – entertainment, lighting, cooling and heating, safety and security – are all network-connected and also integrated in a single control system, the shared awareness can be leveraged for an enhanced lifestyle. The combination all of these management and control systems covering almost any scenario makes the Smart Home into a reality, tailor-able to every family’s needs.
In short, the number of Smart Home devices connecting to the internet is steadily growing by several millions per month, and from reading the interest at CES, this trend will significantly increase in 2014. In the near future, all electronics in our home will be interlinked and managed in the cloud to provide a really smart, secure, energy efficient and comfortable home.
If you want to learn more about the topic, watch Cees Links’ explaining the Smart Home.