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Who controls the smart home? part 2: The (attempts at the) solution

September 23, 2015

In my last blog post, I discussed some of the challenges facing the smart home industry as a whole; specifically the problem of fragmentation among device manufacturers leading a myriad of devices and apps, each controlling a tiny aspect of the smart home. So what are some of the industry’s solutions to this fragmentation?

Given that a homeowner can buy most of the smart home accoutrement from local home improvement stores, these stores are in a good position to create their own smart home ecosystem. While noble efforts have been made by some of the larger home improvement chain stores to create demo versions of smart homes, the overall execution has been lacking. The user experience (UX) of these apps is typically an afterthought – generally providing a long, unsorted list of devices that it can control.

Home security firms are also in a unique position to dive head first into the smart home arena, as they already have a connected device in your home with a slick control panel by the front door. Similarly, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), especially those that are now beginning to dabble in home security themselves, already have a foot in the door and could expand their current presence in the home to facilitate the communication of smart home and IoT devices.

The arena of the smart home is ripe for an enterprising company to develop a solution for centralized control of many devices from a variety of manufacturers in a friendly, intuitive package. Already, companies like SmartThings are developing these kinds of solutions, allowing multiple devices to connect to a single app that is available on a variety of mobile devices.

In the end, the success of the smart home is going to be decided by the users and their willingness to buy IoT products for their homes. Users need to be involved in the design and development phases so that the manufacturers of smart home products know what users expect the smart home to be and can fulfill those expectations and needs. The smart home is supposed to ideally make home life easier and more efficient, and with the right user input at the right time, adjusting your thermostat and home lighting from halfway around the world can be as easy as, well, flipping a light switch.

Ryan Carney is a Senior Lead UX Specialist at GfK and can be contacted ryan.carney@gfk.com.

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