How alarm makers reinvent themselves for smart homes
Home automation systems that take advantage of a whole range of technologies, some of which are included under the umbrella term Internet of Things (IoT), are expected to be one of the key markets in the coming years. A visit to any of the technology trade shows these days will give a glimpse of the products that are coming up in this segment. Interestingly, most of what is seen now is considered to be just the tip of the iceberg, as the possibilities of connected devices are expected to be massive. Opportunities in the smart home market have encouraged several new companies to enter the market, but most importantly, it is setting the stage for some innovative adaptations from large security solution providers. Taking cues on the trends, early this year Bosch set up Robert Bosch Smart Home, a subsidiary that will specialize in home automation products. Christian Sittner, Head of Smart Security at Robert Bosch Smart Home, indicated the importance of this market, as he explained the company’s efforts toward it. “Our smart home system is designed to integrate Bosch products (e.g., heating appliances, video cameras, household appliances, garden robots) but also third-party products (e.g., light, sound, etc.),” Sittner said. “Many cross domain use cases will be realized, for e.g., use of light and sound devices for presence simulation, use of the sounder of the smoke detector to generate alarms, use of the motion detector to control light, etc. In addition, Bosch focuses on data privacy and data security by offering local data storage and end-to-end data encryption.”
“Our smart home system is designed to integrate Bosch products (e.g., heating appliances, video cameras, household appliances, garden robots) but also third-party products (e.g., light, sound, etc.).”
-Christian Sittner, Head, Smart Security, Robert Bosch Smart Home
Such integration and potentially compatible products are just one aspect that these companies are looking into. In response to rising homeowner needs, Honeywell has come up with a wireless security and home automation gateway with wireless keypad reader and sensors. According to Daniel Wan, UK Channel Marketing Manager at Honeywell Security & Fire - Security, this solution provides additional smart home capabilities to users. With compatibility for mobile access, the solution allows users to control their home security system as well as facilities like heating system remotely. “Additional smart home capabilities like this is essential for meeting the growing customer demand for a unified home monitoring system that harnesses the power of IoT,” Wan said. More importantly, it is these companies’ existing presence in the security market that can truly be the game changer. Security being a key factor in the smart home market, most large security solution providers are betting on their expertise to have an edge over the new entrants.
“Because of the number of sensors already installed in millions of homes around the globe, we have the ability to use these devices to collect and analyze valuable data that can be used to enhance the security and smart home experience for the homeowner.”
-Lisa Turner, Global Strategic Products Manager, Tyco Security Products
According to Lisa Turner, Global Strategic Products Manager at Tyco Security Products, her company’s legacy in the residential market and their security-centric approach make them stand out in the market. “Because of the number of sensors already installed in millions of homes around the globe, we have the ability to use these devices — whether glass-break sensors or environmental devices — to collect and analyze valuable data that can be used to enhance the security and smart home experience for the homeowner,” Turner said. Some companies emphasize their products’ adherence to certain standards that help them integrate their alarm systems with other automation systems. Federica Pastorello, International Marketing Manager of the Italy-based security solutions provider EL.MO., said their solutions have native home automation management option that is based on the KNX Konnex standard. This allows home automation devices to be integrated well with burglar alarm solutions. Others are trying different approaches. Hassan Uddin Ahmed, International Sales Manager at Pyronix, said his company, instead of incorporating an alarm system within a home automation system, is doing the “reverse” and incorporating control options with proven security. “By integrating professional home and commercial security with home control options, IP video, cloud, and app infrastructure we are extending the functionality of the security system with practical lifestyle options,” said Ahmed.
“By integrating professional home and commercial security with home control options, IP video, cloud, and app infrastructure we are extending the functionality of the security system with practical lifestyle options.”
-Hassan Uddin Ahmed, International Sales Manager, Pyronix
Giving an example of their strategy, Ahmed added that with the company’s on-board and expandable outputs, automation options for facilities such as shutters, garage doors, and gates can be added. Pyronix’s mobile app and cloud infrastructure permits users to control their devices from anywhere in the world. But even as these companies make rapid strides towards this new segment, the concept of smart homes has brought the consumer closer to the product. In other words, home automation devices are increasingly being sold as consumer electronics, and this trend eliminates the role of professional installers and the costs associated with it.