In general, how could an internet outage (either short or long term) or device’s server going down affect a person or family with a connected home?
A flood of outages in smart home devices could eventually shut down everything from door locks, garage doors, Internet phones, lights and security systems. Depending on the number of smart home gadgets in a home, the user profile and the timeframe, an outage can inconvenience a person’s schedule – or in an extreme case, it can affect a person or family’s safety and cause a great deal of distress if the issue isn’t resolved in a timely manner.
What devices should consumers be most concerned about “going offline”? What devices don't require the Internet to work?
Not all smart home gadgets require Internet access to work, and not everything needs to be connected permanently to a system in order to operate. But if one starts looking at holistic connected home/smart home solutions, then the connectivity as well as the enabling software platform becomes a crucial part of the value delivered to the consumer.
So in a way, one should not only be concerned about a single device not being connected, but more on the potential impact to the smart home system as a whole.
To follow up on that argument, we could think of a holistic smart home solution as delivering value in the following categories: peace of mind (aka security), energy efficiency and sustainability, lifestyle and caring for the family members and friends.
Looking at these categories, it is clear the weight of the impact of Internet outages. For example, if using a connected home device for peace of mind or caring for the family, outages might severe, impacting safety and security. Whereas the potential impact for energy efficiency might only be cost, or just a slight inconvenience to lifestyle components.
How can consumers prepare for an Internet outage? Is there any way to predetermine what situations will cause devices to break or temporarily stop working?
Consumers should think through scenarios such as Internet outages as well as electrical power outages to make sure they know which situations will cause certain malfunctions and what steps they can take to resolve the issue. There is also a huge opportunity for service providers to address these topics and offer solutions, feedback of the systems, frameworks to think through scenarios, and ways to troubleshoot (see also question 5), at least partly.
In the event that a device stops working, what sort of troubleshooting steps can consumers take to figure out what is causing the issue? What backup systems should be in place?
What could go wrong when the internet or server is down? Are there safety concerns or is it mostly a matter of being inconvenienced for a period of time?
We’ve all experienced the frustration of a Netflix movie momentarily pausing due to a failed Internet connection. But it is for the peace of mind, safety and security use cases that an Internet outage should really matter to consumers and homeowners.
Besides proactive thinking and planning, we could at least propose one general approach to enhance the smart home system value proposition during Internet outages:
A connected home / smart home system typically consists of the following components:
- A server component, also called cloud SaaS (Software as a Service)
- A Hub, Gateway or Bridge (powered by 110-240V and connected to the Internet via fixed line or 3G/4G), which is the central control unit inside the home
- A number of devices or gadgets (ranging from door contacts, motion sensors, smoke, CO2, water sensors, to more complex devices like door lock, cameras, etc.)
- Software: On the server/in the cloud, Embedded in the Hub, and Apps on smart phones, tablets, and the like
An Internet outage does not necessarily affect or impact the wireless connections of the devices to their hub inside the home. So one way to mitigate the risk of outages at all might be the selection of a smart home solution, which keeps a local version of the cloud software on the hub. This approach would keep the system up, even in the case of an internet outage, which further means, that all the triggers and rules would still be up and functioning, giving alarms, warnings, and further notifications to the consumers.
E.g. a water leakage would still lead to a notification at a wirelessly connected smartphone or tablet in the same household, in addition to signaling the threat by a local siren or warning lights.
About Marcus Scheiber
Marcus Scheiber is CEO and co-founder of ROC-Connect, an end-to-end solutions provider for companies interested in entering the connected home space. Based on state-of-the-art IOT-platform and application framework, the company rapidly creates comprehensive and consistent smart home brands with excellent user experiences and high technical standards, and operates them on reliable services. ROC-Connect helps its clients to design and execute their business model, select and design their products and services, and support them in all phases of their market entry and operations.