It’s 2018 — what a time to be alive! It’s an age where homeowners can control pretty much anything in their homes from their smartphones or tell Alexa to do it for them. Consumers share a growing concern about safety, security, and convenience. That, along with growth in the IoT, is driving sales in the smart home market.
In fact, according to a report from Mordor Intelligence, the global smart home market was valued at $35.7 billion in 2017, and it is expected to reach a value of $150.6 billion by 2023, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 26.9 percent during the forecast period.
SMART HOME REVOLUTION
It can be said that companies like Nest and Honeywell kicked off the smart home revolution, but the technology is still evolving at a quick pace, according to Daniel Myers, c-founder and CEO, Flair.
“Flair is a natural next step in this evolution,” he said. “Not only do we look at the temperature in each room, but we give you the power to control the temperature in those rooms. We’re moving from whole-home thermostatic control to room-by-room thermostatic control.”
The products also work with Nest, Amazon, ecobee, and Honeywell.
“Nest and ecobee have developed two of the most widely-used smart thermostats,” Myers said. “Many of our customers see the value in a smart thermostat but then still have issues with hot and cold spots. Pairing a Nest or ecobee with Flair gives homeowners a solution to one of the toughest HVAC challenges that, traditionally, hasn’t been easy or affordable to solve.”
Flair wanted to integrate with the market leaders in the smart home HVAC world, Myers noted.
“We wanted to make the Smart Vent experience smooth by being able to sync setpoints, home and away status, etc.,” he said. “If you make a setpoint change on the Puck [which serves as the wireless hub], you should see that on your thermostat. If you make a setpoint change on your thermostat, you should see that on your Puck. It makes sense.
“When it came to Amazon and Google Smart Home devices, we saw that both companies were practically giving their devices away in a living room landgrab,” Myers added. “The sheer number of devices they have deployed is astounding. With numbers like that, it was an easy decision to include those integrations in our offering.”
Myers understands that the smart home and IoT world can change rapidly, which is why Flair made an open application programming interface (API). This allows users to customize their own smart home experience. This is especially important, since product integration is already playing a large role in the smart home market, Myers explained.
“People don’t want 10 apps to manage 10 devices in one home,” he said. “Solid integrations and well-thought-out experiences allow for a user to have unified interactions with their devices and homes.”
INTEGRATION IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST
Product integration is a matter of success or failure for manufacturers in the smart home industry, noted Adrien LaFond, chief marketing officer, Airboxlab.
“A smart home requires many devices to work together in a smart way to provide visible value to its user,” LaFond said. “For homeowners, it’s much more fun to combine together different products in order to configure an automation that’s unique to you and your lifestyle.”
LaFond sees integration as more of a necessity than a market trend — simply having a connected device and a mobile app is not enough. Airboxlab’s Foobot-branded products work with ecobee, Amazon Echo, Google Nest, LuxGeo, and IFTTT, which allows integrations with dozens of other smart devices. Additionally, the company is planning to release a Google Home integration shortly. Consumers are the driving force behind the push for integrated products. In the past, consumers had to buy the next generation products to get all the new features. But today, connected products evolve even after the date of purchase, LaFond explained, with more integrations with other products and firmware updates “over the air.”
“Now, customers simply expect products to evolve over their lifetime,” he said. “Some think that is bad news for manufacturers because less products are sold, but it’s actually a great opportunity to adapt to users’ needs and develop new business models. New features can be made available only to paid subscribers, for instance.”
When Tai Tran, a controls product manager for Carrier Corp., wakes up in the morning, his home is preconfigured with different programming settings so that his thermostat sets back the temperature, the family room light turns on, and the coffee maker starts brewing.
“When all these products and devices begin to perform activities around our home, the general homeowner has in mind that the home essentially becomes a living smart home ecosystem,” he said. “We seem to be at the crossroads where homeowners are asking and expecting everything to be interconnected in the smart home market.”
Carrier dealers are reporting that more and more customers are asking if the manufacturer thermostats and controls work with particular devices or mobile apps, Tran noted. Therefore, the company sees value in providing access to its open API.
“This allows third-party developers to come in and interface their mobile app so it can work with our thermostat and wall control,” Tran said. “Ultimately, what we want to see is the homeowner having more choices when deciding how to interact with their home using a single device or mobile app.”
Carrier thermostats and wall controls work with a number of different devices and apps, including Amazon Echo, Siri, and Google Home. They also work with devices that use a central gateway hub to control various products, like Interlogix Ultra Safe platform. Carrier is also offering an updated Côr® smart home app that expands beyond thermostat control by allowing homeowners to add the manufacturer’s new Côr cameras.
Blake Edwards, senior product marketing manager, controls, Lennox Intl. Inc., said the IoT, and smart homes in general, are becoming more of the norm.
“Everywhere you look, everything is getting smarter — our TVs, phones, and the cars we drive — so it’s only appropriate that HVAC products be tied into this market as well,” he said. “This includes everything from connected systems to smart thermostats to integrated portals that give the consumer awareness they’ve never had in the past with the HVAC system. It really comes down to being a convenience factor for the homeowner to tie those types of products to the technology in the emerging smart home market.”
Across the market, more manufacturers are focused on integrating their products with the latest smart home technologies, especially with voice speaker products like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, Edwards noted.
“The beauty with smart homes nowadays is what used to be a very expensive approach to have that level of convenience is now very cost effective,” he said. “Instead of buying a $10,000 smart home system — like it used to cost in the past — someone can go buy a $100 Amazon Alexa or Google Home speaker and be able to tie and integrate the products they choose into those speakers.
“Smart home speaker technology is relatively only three to four years old, and … it’s being adopted very rapidly,” Edwards continued. “It’s projected that 61 million Americans will be using smart home speakers by the end of this year. As we continue to see technology emerge and people who want this integration, it’s going to grow more rapidly. The future is just endless possibilities of where it’s going to go.”
Publication date: 11/26/2018