The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, or what might as well be dubbed the connected home CES at this point, has seen a strong turnout for devices in the smart home category. From devices that allow users to turn their lights on and off through an app to “smart” washing machines, ‘connected home’ hardware manufacturers have been in full effect in the first few days of the week-long conference. The home automation market is expected to reach $574 million by the end of this year and there’s no shortage of technology companies and household appliance manufacturers attempting to carve out their space within this sector.
In what is amounting to a land grab, many of the players within the space would appear to be laying claim to as many niches within the sector as possible, with product launches for the new year covering everything from kitchen appliances to home security systems to the hub itself. Regardless of whether going wide is the best strategy for these companies, the prevailing approach seems to be, at least within home automation, the bigger the net the better chance at catching a fish.
The Big Players
Technology giant Samsung, who made quite the splash all around, introduced its new SmartThings Hub, a product of its acquisition of SmartThings last August. The new hub, which will be available for purchase by April, has a more powerful processor than its predecessor as well as a built-in backup battery, a place for your sim card for backup internet, and increased connectivity options that include Bluetooth Smart.
The introduction of the SmartThings Hub puts the product directly in competition with Apple’s Homekit and Google’s Nest Thermostat. The SmartThings Hub, however, has an advantage over the Homekit, at least in that it has an open platform and wider range of compatibility than the Homekit which requires licensing through Apple.
The Homekit seems to be gaining steam, however, with the addition of several new devices designed to work with the Hub including Switch, a plug that allows your smartphone to control your lights and appliances; Schlage Sense, a lock system that is activated by speaking through their iPhone; and a WiFi-enabled garage door.
Google’s Nest Labs had a few announcements to make as well. The smart home system revealed over a dozen new partnerships with companies like August, LG, Philips Hue, and UniKey. UniKey, which is based out of Florida, is the creator of the Kwiset Kevo, “the first Smart Lock.”
Founder and president of UniKey Phil Dumas shared more about the partnership in a release, saying,
Our technology already makes everyday life easier; by joining the Works with Nest program, UniKey can bring even more benefits and personalization to our users.
The Game Pieces
A large portion of smart home gadgets showcased at the event include smart appliances like the Dacor IQ dual-fuel range stove that connects to both iOS and Android and the iKettle Coffee Machine that links to users’ smartphones. Alabama connected home device company, CentraLite, falls into this category with its smart garage system and smart switch devices, but also branches into the highly-subscribed smart home security sector with its micro door and micro motion sensor.
The CEO of CentraLite, Jimmy Busby, shares,
We’re looking forward to showing off CentraLite’s latest innovations for the connected home. After being in the industry for over 17 years, it’s rewarding to see home automation finally coming to fruition and mass adoption.
With the majority of the gadgets being more narrow in scope (like the Sleep Number SleepIQ bed and Edyn Garden Sensor), one product stands out. The Easydom Next is a comprehensive home management tool by Dallas, Texas-based smart home solution company, Easydom. The product allows users to monitor and manage energy use, control their alarm system, and manage household appliances. The Easydom app is currently available through Windows Phone and iOS. Though it is unclear how well it would work with other technologies, the website hints at new integrations with Sonos, Philips Hue and Nest thermostat in the near future.
Photo Credit: SmartThings