Since 2014, smart home devices have become a trendy gift item since introduction of Google Assistant, Facebook Portal and Amazon’ Echo. According to Jonathan Collins of ABI Research, reduced pricing and starter smart home bundles will entice millions of dollars in consumer spending this holiday season, but these devices will also help determine the type of smart homes that will be built around them.
Indeed, ABI Research has predicted that about 128 million homes will be converted into smart homes by the end of 2020 as smart devices, given as gifts, are ensconced of countless recipients.
Collins observed that the connectivity embedded in voice control front end devices will determine the connectivity they will look for in devices such as door locks, lights, sensors, key fobs, and wireless security cameras as integrated smart home systems evolve.
“For smart home devices and service providers investing in embedding wireless connectivity in their offerings, the continuing competing and disparate landscape for smart home protocols remains an expensive and constricting block on smart home investment and ROI,” he said.
He added that the lack of a clear standard and no operability between major smart home protocols means that each new smart home is a battleground for each connectivity protocol to gain a foothold. Each additional device also cements a foundation that will underpin the adoption of increasingly more devices looking to leverage the same connectivity protocols.
A free-for-all in wireless protocol
As consumer tech companies have pushed into the smart home market with smart home management platforms and voice control capabilities in smart speakers, Bluetooth connectivity has increasingly pushed into the heart of many smart homes. However, along with Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, ZigBee, Thread, and Propriety are all in competition to deliver connectivity to smart home technology—sometimes in the same device.
“Voice control front-ends increasingly offer a new format for smart home gateway functionality. Amazon has embraced Zigbee for this purpose in its Echo Plus devices, and Google Nest is leveraging its own Thread protocol to communicate to sensors; both continue to rely on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well,” Collins said.
There are signs that outside the United States, and particularly in Asia, Bluetooth will provide connectivity from voice control front-end devices to an array of smart home sensors around the home.
“The scale of the Asian market, and in particular China and its tech providers, will deliver a significant boost to the adoption and support of Bluetooth in competition with Z-Wave, Zigbee, and other low-power connectivity protocols,” Collins said.
ABI Research predicts new and reengineered wireless protocols will become available to smart home vendors between 2020 and 2024, leading to a shift toward increased standardisation. Bluetooth and 802.15.4 will be the most popular offerings, with further adoption driven primarily by the inclusion in voice control front-end devices.
“Embedded protocol support will continue to impact the smart home market even after the gifts have been unwrapped and the decorations stored away. For millions of consumers, voice control devices are for life, not just for the holidays,” Collins said.
Vibrant smart home market next year
Israel-based startup Veego Software, which used artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced technologies to enable self-care in the smart homes, expects a vibrant market in 2020.
These findings are from ABI Research’s Smart Home Connectivity application analysis report, part of our Smart Home research service, which includes research, data, and ABI Insights.
Veego Software, an Israel-based startup that brings artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies to enable self-care in the smart home, today unveiled its predictions for smart-home support in the coming year.
“The smart home industry is progressing rapidly and service provider support organizations need to keep up with the changes to stay relevant,” declared Denis Sirov, Veego CTO. “New smart home infrastructure is developing to support the rise in adoption which, in turn, is placing increased pressure on service and support systems.”
Here are four industry-changing smart home support trends that Veego predicts for 2020:
- Smart-home problems will move toward the edges of the service delivery chain.
The perception today is that most of the problems that degrade a smooth experience in the connected home are due to WiFi issues. However, as better WiFi products solve more of those problems, other problem locations are growing in relative size (absolute, as well).
In addition to the in-home WiFi, these problems can occur anywhere along the chain from the cloud, through the internet, into the router, or in the devices themselves. Adept service providers will have to gain an acute level of visibility across the entire service delivery chain, detecting problems at any link and analysing root cause accurately – or waste a fortune on faulty support remedies.
- Self-care will be embraced by service providers and subscribers.
Until now, numerous lengthy calls to the service provider support centre have become compulsory for dealing with subscriber problems with their smart devices and services. As the number of connected devices per home increases sharply, along with the services they consume, the mass and complexity of support calls is rising precipitously, soon to render the trend unsustainable, cost- and personnel-wise.
To cope in 2020, a growing number of support issues will be transferred to the subscribers themselves in the form of self-care. AI will be the main enabling technology that will either resolve problems automatically, in real time at the source, or that will make helpful recommendations to subscribers for self-help. The AI will make use of smart speakers, voice assistants, chatbots and smartphones to communicate with subscribers directly, obviating many of those wasteful phone calls to the support centre.
- Service providers will be compared and evaluated less by the technical details of their internet service and more by the quality of useful services brought to end devices.
The traditional metrics will be less critical to subscribers in 2020. The size of the package, in terms of Mbs, or internet speed, will be of minor importance. Instead, subscribers will differentiate between service providers by their ability to support a smooth experience for streaming, gaming and the other services that are growing in use and importance in the connected home.
- Installation of mesh networks will cause more inter-dwelling interference.
The traditional in-home hub-and-spoke network architecture, where all devices communicate via a central router, is giving way to mesh architectures with numerous extenders in the home. Mesh networks introduce many more antennas and, with them, greater potential for interference.
Establishing a properly working mesh network within one home stands to affect the radio signals in the networks of neighbours. These types of problems are transient and hard to reproduce, not to mention resolve.
Meanwhile, according to Ovum’s Smart Home Forecasts, the number of households with installed smart home devices will grow by 60% over the next five years, totalling 590m households and an installed base of 7.7bn devices. Over the same period, revenue from device sales and smart home services will grow by 45%, totalling US$153bn, making it one of the fastest growing markets in the TMT sector.
“This rapid increase in connected and smart devices will bring significant value to the consumer through new use-cases and ways of delivering services, products and digital applications into the home,” stated Ovum’s Michael Philpott. “However, they will also make the home a more complex place to live. When things go wrong, it will be beyond the capability of the average consumer to solve problems. The burden is likely to fall on service providers.”