Just how open should the connected home be?

The number of smart devices people own is increasing rapidly. It is an accelerating market which is are already reaping benefits – saving users time and money, and improving their health and personal security.

This is particularly true moving into the realm of the connected home. Analyst firms project that in 2018, people will spend $100 billion on smart-home technology globally, and there will be 45 million smart-home systems in use.

The market is reaching an inflection point and as it does, vendors are facing both challenges and opportunities around how to maximise its potential.

As the number of devices people interact with increases, the amount of time they have to manage them individually will decrease.

>See also: 1 in 9 UK homes will be smart by the end of the year

The potential for those devices to communicate and behave reactively with one another without human input – televisions speaking to lighting systems, for example – is the really exciting part of the connected-home future.

Intercommunication between devices will be critical to increase the value of the smart-home experience, not only to ensure a seamless customer experience but to enable true innovation and growth.

Companies must be open enough to work together and to use data in a complementary rather than competitive way, which will ultimately improve customer experience and their own business objectives. Data and information benefits all.

This isn’t news to many companies operating in this space. Even a business like Apple, which has always operated with a ‘walled garden’ approach, is embracing an open ecosystem with the launch of HomeKit for iOS 8. 

Yet as the market accelerates towards the mass consumer, we must ask ourselves, how far should this concept of ‘openness’ extend?

The true success of the Internet of Things will be achieved through the scale brought by mass consumer market adoption, so it is paramount businesses create a robust ecosystem that appeals beyond the world of developer communities and app designers and to the non-technical consumer.

This group will demand simplicity, openness and extension, but also quality, security and resilience. Businesses must ensure the consumer is not faced with challenges and difficulties when managing their own connected home.

Simply put, if customers experience glitches or poor-quality services, they simply won’t continue to use the product, and mass-market adoption will not occur.

Whilst openness is required to ensure creativity, disruption and innovation, it must not result in a ‘Wild West’ style environment that puts customer experience and security at risk. With the correct frameworks in place within the ecosystem, risk can be minimised, isolated and put at bay. 

>See also: Smart homes and cities – when will it happen?

Even systems that seem to be open require such a framework. Apple had a near perfect model in the development of iOS and applications.

This wasn’t an open system at launch. In fact, it remained closed until the principles on which it was built were proven. Only then did it open iOS to developers, which was carefully managed and still incorporates clear approval processes.

No one company can operate at every junction in the connected-home journey so openness is critical. However, the proliferation of new types of information and data means that there must also be a level of care and quality in place.

If not, businesses risk opening up the ecosystem to the risk of malware and serious security breaches, and harm the potential growth of the market itself.


Sourced from Mary Turner, CEO, AlertMe

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...