Despite the availability of connected thermostats and smoke detectors, the smart home concept has not turned out to represent a hot business opportunity. The recent departure of founder Tony Faddell from Nest has prompted Hayley Tsukayama at The Washington Post to look at some smart home shortcomings.
However, Cees Links, GM of Qorvo Low Power Wireless, sees considerable promise in smart home functionality—if it’s delivered in the form of SHaaS: smart home as a service.
Tsukayama points out the problems. “It sounds pretty great to have thermostats, light bulbs, ovens, and security systems that anticipate our every move,” she writes. “The reality has been something less wonderful—a fractured market of occasionally buggy appliances that work with some, but not all, of the systems out there.”
Links, founder and CEO of GreenPeak Technologies (now part of Qorvo), outlines the problems of current implementations in a new white paper. First, he distinguishes between a connected device and a smart device. Connected devices have been around for years, he notes, citing the X10 communications protocol technology.
An intelligent device must be connected, it should be intelligent (able to learn what is normal and take appropriate action when something unexpected occurs), and multiple intelligent devices should be manageable from a single app.
Now, he says, the smart-home ecosystem has competing application layer (AllJoyn, IoTivity, and Brillo, for example) and communication layer (ZigBee, Thread, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, for example) standards—creating complexity for consumers as well as companies looking to enter the smart-home market.
Links advocates reducing complexity through a sophisticated SHaaS application like Qorvo’s recently introduced Family@Home. Such a solution, he says, requires sensors, a local hub (perhaps a set-top box), and a single management app providing consumers with a single user interface. A service provider handles customer support, billing, and software upgrades.
“Device and system developers need to work together to develop hardware, software, and web intelligence to make this dream come true,” he writes.