Making the Connected Home Smart

By Erik Linask January 14, 2014

One of the growing trends evident at this year’s CES – indeed, one that has been building momentum generally – is the home automation or connected home market. Indeed, the market may be reaching a critical juncture, judging by the acquisition of Nest by Google.

Cees Links, founder and CEO of GreenPeak Technologies would likely agree this is progress toward smart homes – a term he much prefers over connected home, noting that our homes have long been connected, but they have hardly become smarter as a result – despite the ZigBee chip in the Nest remaining dormant thus far. So, until the entire home becomes connected internally, that external capability has limited value.

As a manufacturer of ultra-low-power silicon for the purpose of enabling communication and control between wireless devices, and competitor to the likes of TI, Atmel, Freescale and others, GreenPeak certainly would benefit from an increase in ZigBee market penetration. While it be the most recognized chipmaker, Links says its quality and cost combination are second to none, and one of the reasons it takes only orders of a million chips or more.

Is there merit to his claim? His client list boasts names like Comcast, DirecTV, Cisco, Sony, Philips, Arris, Samsung, NTT, Time Warner Cable, and many more.  The cableco relationships are significant because, as Links points out, the ste-top box is rapidly becoming hub of home automation and connectivity and will likely serve as the gateway to the smart home. Most recently, GreenPeak signed a deal with Bosch, announcing certification of its chips for Bosch motion sensors. Currently, the deal doesn’t extend to other Bosch lines, but Links is confident this is only the beginning.

There’s little doubt ZigBee will be the wireless technology of choice, given its low power consumption and NLOS technology that is ideal for smart home applications. In fact, Links says many devices with GreenPeak chips never need a battery replacement. When you consider the number of devices that will eventually be “connected,” that’s quite a savings in time and sanity, not to mention cost. Come to think of it, it’s not unlike swapping out all your light bulbs for LEDs – which, at long last, the federal government has mandated in the US.

The point Links makes is really that devices aren’t all that smart on their own, but require each other to become smart – along with intelligence garnered from each device and analyzed and leveraged as a cloud-based resource. When entire home systems – entertainment, lighting, cooling and heating, safety and security – are all not only network-connected, but also on a single management system, the intelligence is able to be leveraged to for an enhanced lifestyle.

When you are able to combine the intelligence from all of these systems, almost any scenario becomes a reality, because the system is able to “understand” individual and group habits based on data collected from each of these sensors, which it then translates into action items – turning on the TV when Lefty tees off, turning the security system on when it recognizes everyone has left the home, adjusting lighting systems to environmental factors such as cloud or sun.

Links believes we will realize true smart homes in the next 4-6 years, when the Internet of Things comes to fully exist.

One challenge thus far is cost. Not only are smart products priced significantly above their non-connected counterparts, but when it comes to connected lighting, for instance, a homeowner who has installed LEDs throughout the home already is much less likely to be willing to absorb the cost of then switching to smart lighting. And obviously, there are soon-to-be-connected items with much longer buying cycles that will take years to be replaced (refrigerators and other appliances).

That said, the real key will be education. In order for smart technology to become ubiquitous, consumers will have to be made aware, and their purchasing will have to be made easy – as will the connectivity. Despite its inherent advantages, if ZigBee isn’t as easy to use as WiFi, it will fail. Based on what Links says, it’s a no brainer.




Edited by Cassandra Tucker

Group Editorial Director

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

API Management Poised for Big Growth

By: Paula Bernier    3/22/2017

The API management market is forecast to be worth $2.665 billion by 2021, according to MarketsandMarkets. That's up from more than $606 million last y…

Read More

IBM Watson Aims to Improve Call Center, IVR CX

By: Paula Bernier    3/22/2017

At its IBM Interconnect event today, the tech giant is introducing the IBM Watson Voice Gateway. It can act as a cognitive self-service agent, directl…

Read More

The 3D Printer That Could Print Your Next House or Finish Trump's Wall in Two Months

By: Rob Enderle    3/21/2017

Not only could this 3D printer be used to rapidly rebuild a town devastated by a natural or manmade disaster, the resulting home could be better able …

Read More

How Twitter, Indiegogo and IBM Will Augment Executives and Politicians

By: Rob Enderle    3/20/2017

I think Twitter could become the showcase for what Ginni Rometty, IBM's CEO, was talking about when she said that IBM wasn't focused on replacing huma…

Read More

NVIDIA and Intel Race for Autonomous Vehicles

By: Doug Mohney    3/17/2017

While Intel was basking in the glow of a $15 billion deal for Israel-based Mobileye this week, NVIDIA announced autonomous vehicle partnerships with B…

Read More