The home automation market is clearly growing, but where is it headed, and what verticals are currently driving that growth? 

Mitch Klein, executive director, Z-Wave Alliance offers some home automation predictions for 2020 and beyond.

What are the ways in which product interoperability in the smart home ecosystem is being addressed at the wireless communication level and how will that support overall growth?

Standards compatibility and product interoperability are critical to ensuring the success of the smart home. A future where all of the standards can work together seamlessly to create more freedom of choice for consumers, a better product experience, and an easy-to-navigate development process for manufacturers will help drive this success. 

For Z-Wave, interoperability and backwards compatibility requirements have been key attributes in driving its growing ecosystems.

Meanwhile, home automation systems are experiencing a whole new level of opportunity as previously closed ecosystems and wireless technologies are finding new ways to allow for product interoperability and support  development. For example, the Z-Wave Alliance, along with Silicon Labs, announced in December 2019 that we are opening the Z-Wave specification up to all silicon and stack vendors for development. By making this change, our goal is to facilitate open IoT deployment and engage new kinds of companies into Z-Wave development to bolster the ecosystem, such as silicon vendors, software developers, and others to bring Z-Wave to more devices and more industries. 

Is the smart home market delivering end-users what they want?

There is a lot of education yet to be done with communicating the true value of a smart home to end users, as well as supporting them in getting started and throughout their entire purchase journey. This means lots of resources and information on product compatibility, use-cases, and knowledgeable post-purchase support will be necessary to satisfy the growing market interest and turn this interest into satisfied customers.

Consumers have to feel confident that they’ve made the right choices in terms of compatibility and device security, can get set up relatively easily, and have reliable support for the entire lifecycle of their system. And there is a large opportunity for integrators to step in to provide this support – from choosing products to installation and post-install support – the opportunity for integrators in smart homes continues to present itself.

Guaranteeing that products within the home can communicate effectively with one another is critical to ensuring end users are content with their smart home now and in years to come.

What are the top trends in product functionality that we’ll see in the future smart home?

In the future smart home, AI will bring significant impact when learning and intelligence make the home context-aware. With this upgrade, safety, comfort, security, convenience, etc. will improve as the smart home will be able to predict and proactively react to consumer wants and needs.

The ability to have a device be truly “smart” vs. just connected and understand the commands a user would make before they even make them is the next step for the technology.

These key drivers and benefits will ultimately make it so that our homes can automatically detect our preferences, like lighting and temperature, based on which family members are in the room, what time of day it is, and what the weather is like. AI and context-aware technology will completely redefine the user experience in the smart home and expand the possibilities for product and system-wide functionality.

When and how will automation become the norm in verticals such as real estate and building – for example, in new home builds and renovation projects?

We’re well on our way already! As smart adoption continues to grow, home technology is becoming a selling point for new home builds and homeowners looking to include this technology in their homes. No longer settling only for traditional home features, homeowners

are seeking properties, or renovating their properties, with connected devices, including smart locks, thermostats, and lighting that provide convenience and security. Real estate agents, builders, and integrators all benefit from increased consumer interest in smart home implementations.

For real estate agents, they might be the first person to explain to their clients the benefits that smart home technology will have on their lifestyle. On the other hand, their client may be quite aware of the possibilities of a well implemented smart home; thus the agent is put into a position where they will only show those homes with the technology already in place.

Integrators and builders have the opportunity to partner on new home builds or existing projects – a builder might decide that they want to install smart home systems in a new community to drive increased purchasing interest, for example, and then seek out integrators to partner with for the job.

This feature first appeared in EI Magazine.

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