Residential learnings re IoT, "smart" home & interoperability...
TL;DR: No surprise...
Access to data not the main issue (sensors have social / privacy / logistical hurdles, but we’ll get thru them)
Less obviously solved is INTEROPERABILITY
- while we focus on the technology aspect of interoperability, the issue is more on the incentives of the players who must interoperate together
Time: September 11, 2018
Place: At the Dining table, moonlighting as a Breakfast table
Pointer from: Twitter
Note type: Direct
It’s perhaps best then to think of today’s smart home as a home. No matter how many sensors you have or connected appliances you install, you often still have to manually control things, whether that’s through an app, a voice assistant like Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa, or an old-fashioned switch on the wall.
But wouldn’t it be cool if my home was smart enough to figure out that activity in the house has dwindled and everyone has gone to bed on its own without requiring me to utter a command or set it to a specific time?
In order to get to that level of smart, the smart home needs two things: lots of data and better interoperability between devices. The first part is accomplished by installing even more sensors that can determine where someone is and what they are doing within the home. That level of monitoring might make some uncomfortable, and there are legitimate concerns about security that should be addressed. But just like your smartphone is a lot smarter because of all the data it has access to, the smart home will be a lot smarter when it has more data to work with too.
The second part of that is more difficult. As it is right now, there are many competing smart home standards for devices to communicate with each other. There are old wireless protocols like Zigbee and Z-Wave, modern connectivity such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and even proprietary ways that certain devices share data with each other. And then there seems to be a separate app for every product you install, which requires its own separate account and login.
Without a universal standard that all companies agree upon, interlinking smart devices and sharing data between is surprisingly difficult. There are APIs and connections that many companies offer, but those are only useful if other companies take advantage of them. That means that when you buy something like a smart lock, you have to research in advance if it will work with the smart lighting, smart security system, or smart thermostat you either have already or plan to install in the future. Otherwise, that smart lock will just stand alone and not be integrated into the rest of your smart home.
There are some companies that have tried to solve this problem. Products like the SmartThings and Wink hubs attempt to act as intermediaries between the various gadgets available and allow them to connect to each other and share data.
But all of those systems have their limits, and it doesn’t take long to find them. Even with all of our careful planning and built-from-the-ground-up approach, there are products in our Home of the Future that don’t integrate with the central hub and are largely just standalone devices.
September 12th, 2018