FutureFive New Zealand logo
Story image

3 cool vendors making tracks in the smart home space

The smart home technology market is flourishing, with more home platforms becoming intelligent and connected, says Pete Basiliere, Gartner research director.

According to the 2014 Gartner consumer survey, 16% of US online households (approximately 20 million households) own a connected home device. On top of this, 4% of survey participants are said to own two or more connected devices.

Gartner and Basiliere have highlighted three vendors doing interesting things in the smart home space:

digitalSTROM, Zurich, Switzerland

digitalSTROM equips all electrical devices in the home with intelligent terminal blocks that communicate via power lines and can run small programmes using an integrated high-voltage chip.

Devices are linked to each other and can be controlled by light switches, smartphones and tablets.

In addition to the lighting, sound system and/or heating controls found with other connected home systems, digitalSTROM enables all electrical appliances to switch on and work in combination with each other.

For example, each appliance can set off its own alarm and alert other devices and the owner.

When a smoke detector sets off a fire alarm, the lights will turn on automatically, emergency exits will be cleared (e.g., window shutters or blinds raised) and an alarm will sound through the home audio system.

“To date, efforts to market connected home systems have been characterised mainly by large enterprises trying to sell 'smart' consumer devices.

“However, our 'Maverick Research: Makers and Startups Are the Ones Shaping the Internet of Things' found that the real drivers of the IoT are startup companies such as digitalSTROM,” says Basiliere.

Oort, San Francisco, CA, U.S

Oort offers an intelligent connected home gateway for controlling appliances in the home, which the user can control via the app on iOS or Android.

The SmartHub connects with devices and sensors through Bluetooth Smart and any Bluetooth-enabled device that makes use of the standard Generic Attribute Profile (GATT) that could be part of the ecosystem automatically.

All the data is sent to the cloud, providing users constant access to it via a web browser.

The app allows the user to control and manage home appliances when they are not at home, and beacons can be used to create geo-fencing and allow alerts to be set up; for child safety reasons, for instance.

Basiliere says Oort stood out as a ‘cool vendor’ for several reasons, including ease of use and interoperability, minimalistic industrial design, and the fact that the hub becomes more intelligent and can make predictions on future actions.

Wink, Manhattan, New York

Wink has created a growing ecosystem through strategic partnerships that enable homeowners to build their own connected home, says Basiliere.

Wink has developed, through partnerships, a do-it-yourself home monitoring and control system, he says.

The system, which is controlled through the Wink app on a smartphone, enables the homeowner to control almost all aspects of the home.

The Wink Hub communicates with devices that don't speak the same wireless language by translating the different communication protocols — including Bluetooth.

Basiliere says, therefore Wink is developing an open-source network that will be critical for success in the consumer market.

The ecosystem currently has 19 partners and hundreds of products compatible with Wink, and with more partners to come.

“Your home will be connected, someday. Sooner rather than later if you are an early adopter of new technologies.

“In either case, keep in mind that feature richness is only one part of connected home platforms, devices, apps and service. Equally important are their design and ease of self-installation,” says Basiliere.