The ‘connected home’ is really starting to become a reality. With more and more devices that link to the home network arriving in stores the prices are plummeting. Broadband is cheaper and service providers are under pressure to find new ways to exploit their mobile and fixed broadband networks. In addition, concern for carbon emissions and new smart grid strategies are driving the deployment of still more networked devices. There are challenges though.

Broadband – A New Utility?

Kevin Meagher

Broadband – A New Utility?

 

Author: Kevin Meagher, Intamac Systems

 

The ‘connected home’ is really starting to become a reality. With more and more devices that link to the home network arriving in stores the prices are plummeting. Broadband is cheaper and service providers are under pressure to find new ways to exploit their mobile and fixed broadband networks. In addition, concern for carbon emissions and new smart grid strategies are driving the deployment of still more networked devices. There are challenges though.

As an engineer in the RAF I used to work with cutting edge technology on front line combat aircrafts. Fibre optic networks linked all the systems on the aircraft and we could remotely manage and diagnose any problems. The movement of data between devices was every bit as important as the electricity that powered them.

With the advent of the internet I started to think about how it could be used to manage data from devices in the home. Think of the benefits if you could reach into a home to control the thermostat and switch the heating on before you came home or allow a service engineer to check appliances without visiting. While not new, the question was how can you do this at low cost and with simple, easy to install devices so everyone could benefit? Then I had that ‘Eureka’ moment that changed my life - I decided to become a part of the internet revolution.

I started to think about the problem of controlling devices in the home like an aircraft engineer. If I built a giant computer in a data centre and used broadband to reach devices in the home, I could network them in the cloud and make them do clever things. The web and broadband would be key to this even though people thought the internet was all about content delivery and broadband adoption was driven by speed. This led us to create a service platform focusing on the connected home. Through a web portal that allows them to manage and control devices, consumers can make the home a safer and more energy efficient environment.

The ‘connected home’ is really starting to become a reality. With more and more devices that link to the home network arriving in stores the prices are plummeting. Broadband is cheaper and service providers are under pressure to find new ways to exploit their mobile and fixed broadband networks. In addition, concern for carbon emissions and new smart grid strategies are driving the deployment of still more networked devices.

There are challenges though. Consumers have heard all about the ‘connected home’ and got bored with the promise of the internet-enabled fridge and marketers are still talking of killer apps for the home. Realistically there is no ‘killer’ app and suggesting there is just creates further hype that turns people off.

Initiatives to reduce carbon emissions may seem a great way to exploit this new technology but in today’s climate, homeowners are tightening their purse strings and questioning where their money’s going more than ever. Research we conducted recently found that people are interested in conserving energy to save money rather than stop global warming.

Broadband is still nowhere near realising its full potential but the proliferation of all these new networked products and services will fuel the next phase of growth. There is a historic precedence for this view. Electricity is now accepted as an indispensible utility but when it first became available no-one understood the need. It was GE and their work developing a wide range of appliances that stimulated growth. Like broadband, no single electrical device was the killer app that justified mass deployment; it was the bundle – the proliferation of new devices using electricity that justified the expenditure and gave birth to the new utility.

Technology and markets have seen radical change in the last ten years but there is so much more to come. Now it’s up to us to offer services that help make the internet as useful as possible – monitoring and potentially reducing our energy consumption to make the world both a happier and healthier place to live.

About Kevin Meagher
Kevin is a chartered engineer with an MBA who has become recognised as one of the global pioneers of the connected home. Formerly, a group captain in the Royal Air Force, he opted for a dramatic career change when he saw how a new generation of web-based platforms could be used to monitor and control devices in the home.

He formed Intamac in 2000 to exploit the technology and launch a range of new value added services into the mass consumer market. The company has now deployed platforms with major service providers on three continents to support home monitoring, environmental management, telecare and automation.

Kevin has lectured on business management and published papers at national and international conferences. In the 2008 European Business Awards, Kevin won a Ruban d’Honneur as European Entrepreneur of the Year, and Intamac also won Best New Innovation. He remains keen on sports and plays squash, golf and soccer – when anyone will have him in the team!

 

About Intamac
Intamac Systems is a market leader in the integration and networking of devices within the connected home. Founded in 2000 and based in the UK, the company has developed an enterprise platform that takes advantage of broadband to deliver a wide range of innovative value added services including security, video surveillance, automation and energy management. With fixed and mobile broadband becoming ubiquitous, Intamac Systems uses the platform to simplify the installation and deployment of devices. The platform is used to deliver a turnkey solution to partners who want to enter and make the most of opportunities in the connected home.

Intamac is listed in the 2009 Deloitte Technology Fast 50 as one of the fastest growing technology companies in the UK. It also won the European Business Awards for Best New Innovation in 2008 where CEO, Kevin Meagher, received a Ruban d’Honneurs for European Entrepreneur of the Year. For more information see www.intamac.com


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