Silently in backrooms and golf courses deals are being penned to bring these capabilities to bear. Service channels are being developed and smart homes are cropping up everywhere. And while no one owns a crystal ball, the writing is on the wall. Historically, it is in moments of time like this when a smaller more agile player seizes the opportunity to capitalize on market uncertainty and devise a universal solution that slays the sleeping giants.
This is the first of three articles that will each examine key trends enabling and driving the development of the Networked Home. The first article covers Science and Technology Trends, followed by articles on Market and Consumer Trends, and finally Social and Economic Trends. Your comments and suggestions are encouraged.
Neighborhood automation systems can be used to provide communities with news and information directly from local schools, merchants, and businesses. This can be anything from the local Little League schedule to arts events to a PTA meeting. In essence, networked neighborhoods can have their own intranets - electronic hubs where they are able to share information and reinforce their sense of community.
The power of a home network is not solely the system intelligence experienced by the home owner while at home. It is the aggregate value of the cost, and time savings coupled with the value of new, revolutionary features experienced both inside and outside the home.
The importance of QoS is becoming highlighted as service providers look at home networking solutions to extend the broadband pipe they are bringing into homes. These service providers hope to bring not just data into the home, but eventually voice and video as well.
The main revenue source for the service providers, namely services, can be a set of dynamic, money-saving and convenience-rich offerings for homeowners to pick and choose from much the same way they select between long distance or cell phone carriers, or telephone service features (call waiting) today. Global deregulation of the utilities market is prompting utilities (power companies, telcos, etc.) to look for new and improved services that differentiate their offering from their competitors.
The 21st Century builder who offers his buyer the "Bells and Whistles" of this technological era can realize increased sales because of the competitive edge, not to mention customer satisfaction. When the consumer is happy he becomes a source of built-in publicity which is a positive marketing advantage. The average consumer enjoys systems that are: "user friendly," offer conveniences pertinent to their life style, perform reliably, add a certain prestige to their home, and will generate long term cost savings.
These are the results of a survey carried out at Comdex Fall 99. If you have Internet Explorer 5 you can view the results as a PowerPoint presentation by clicking here (Note: The presentation may cause problems with browsers other than IE5).
The variety of user interface components illustrated here is impressive. Yet, more creativity is needed for customers to feel comfortable with home automation products without fear of breaking them or causing mayhem. Any interface must convey the perception that the user is in control and the products are servants.
A revolution occurring in the Commercial/Industrial environmental control industry may soon find it's way into our networked homes. Both BacNet & LonTalk communication standards are being widely accepted by the Commercial building industry. The room control or individual unit control requirements in a Commercial buildings are not that different from the requirements in our homes. The low cost programmable controller can be easily reconfigured for any task. Some of this technology will come as part of Original Equipment Manufacture "OEM" products such as air conditioners and heating equipment. This article provides a quick overview of this BacNet standard developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers ASHRAE.
"Even though progress on international standards is relatively slow, participation is important for the exchange of ideas among home automation developers world-wide. The specification of application models may promote product interoperability. This may be more worthwhile than the current focus on protocols, which is encouraging protocol competition."
"A major announcement affecting the building and home automation markets in Europe was made in June 1997. The Executive Director of EHSA announced that the EHS, EIB, and BatiBUS communications protocols would be merged into one protocol."
"People should never have to adapt to technology. We already have plenty to do and learn. Ideally, any new technology should adapt to us, and allow us to accomplish more tasks with less effort."
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