A market driven by security and energy management
The terms ‘smart home’ and ‘smart building’ refer to a set of technologies that make it possible to interconnect a range of products inside a home or building, to then be able to manage them, control them and automate their operation. If some connected products are still thought of as gadgets – smart fridges or ovens come to mind – consumers and businesses are both willing to invest in increased security (smart CCTV cameras) and in the ability to manage their energy consumption more efficiently, and to save money using connected devices such as smart thermostats, light bulbs, radiators and blinds. European directives on new buildings for improved energy efficiency could thus go some way in helping the smart home and smart building take off.
Industry tackling the interoperability issue
Because this is a market of very wide scope, the ecosystem itself is highly fragmented, populated by a host of players with a wide variety of backgrounds. The lack of interoperability between the different systems is proving a major obstacle to adoption. The consolidation of the two main interoperability initiatives, under the umbrella of the Open Interconnect Foundation marks a major milestone. The Internet giants have addressed the issue by imposing their voice-controlled personal assistants as industry standards for connecting a range of devices. But these solutions, starting with the Alexa (Amazon), Apple Siri and Google Assistant are also creating a new fragmentation.
Sales reorganising the ecosystem
Partnerships are being forged, notably around building specialists: a good case in point is the Apple strategy of installing HomeKit products directly in new builds. Bouygues Immobilier has also surrounded itself with technological partners to design its connected home solutions.
Despite still fuzzy business models, the sale of services tied to the data generated by smart devices will be a real driver for the market. The Amazon Dash Replenishment service, compatible with Samsung and LG appliances, enables home appliances to order supplies, such as laundry detergent, automatically before they run out.