Smart Homes: How To Keep From Missing The Greatest Tech Opportunity Of Our Time

Smart Homes: How To Keep From Missing The Greatest Tech Opportunity Of Our Time

What stands in the way of the smart home, and how the industry can overcome it.

Smart homes should simplify our lives. When connected TVs in these residences come on, other devices are supposed to react. Ideally lights will dim, the phone’s ringer will mute and the speakers will stop playing music. When a smart household’s baby monitor notices an infant stirring in the night, the speaker in the nursery should begin to play a soft lullaby or white noise to sooth him back to sleep.

This type of simple and seamless functionality could be our reality. But for most people, it’s not—at least not yet. Whether it will ever be hinges on one crucial factor: whether those connected devices, produced by different manufacturers following various standards, can all work together one day.

The industry, as disjointed as it is, needs to come together and create an ecosystem that’s as comprehensive and inclusive as it is innovative. That’s no easy task, but it is critical for the smart home—especially now, with so much interest in connecting and automating our residences.

How To Bring The Smart Home Together

There are two ways to create this more unified ecosystem: either the industry groups agree on common, widely adopted interoperability standards, or the tech makers support open APIs (application programming interfaces) for more integration and support across software and services.

There’s some precedence for the first approach. After all, it’s how we got the World Wide Web, which rescued us from the proprietary walled garden hells of the old AOL and CompuServe platforms.

Back then, content and services were closely controlled by a few and, as a result, innovation was heavily constrained. Later, the Web’s open standard enabled anyone to build websites, services or content, and instantly make it available to everyone in the world. It paved the way for unfettered innovation and transformation ever since.

Unfortunately, the industry is not likely to reach consensus on a dominant smart home or Internet of Things (IoT) standard. The uses for connected devices are so diverse, finding a one-size-fits-all solution seem highly improbable. In fact, today there are dozens of competing standards, each with merit, that are evolving independently with no sign of consolidation.

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