This is the second part of a two part Blog – click here to read Part 1
Not to be left behind in the push toward owning the “ultimate smart home,” I recently installed a new security system that allows me to check its status, view the system log and turn it on and off remotely from my iPhone. Paying up for this “luxury” versus having a second keypad installed enables me to command the system from my second story bedroom (the primary keypad being located next to the kitchen door on the way into the garage, a pain to activate once I am already in bed) was actually less expensive than installing a second keypad and provides much more flexibility and control. Now I can check on my house when at business or family functions that take me thousands of miles from home. See one example from Alarm.com.
Looking at the current list of home automation technology services, I have been underwhelmed at the options and features available as an “entry level” consumer; nervous about being price-gouged; fearful of the chaos and disruption caused during installation process; leery at the “unknowns” related to the total cost of ownership (cost of service and support – what happens when something goes wrong!?), and; surprised by the lack of technology standards and true integration. Clearly this is bleeding edge stuff and unlike Bill Gates, I don’t have $100 million to invest in outfitting my home.
So, what do I envision or desire in a smart home?
Here’s my Top 10 Ultimate Smart Home Wish List
- Plug and Play — I want the technology to be plug and play – to integrate seamlessly and to WORK – period. It should require the least amount of retrofitting for an existing home – no more than the amount of effort and disruption to install a decent home theater system.
- Subscription Fee Consolidation — I don’t want to get nickeled and dimed by monthly subscription fees. Ideally, I want one consolidated bill per month that contained all the subscription content I have ordered (my XM radio, premium Pandora, Cable/Sat TV content, Netflix, broadband/wi-fi connections so everything connects etc., etc.) and any additional network services required (satellite, cellular).
- Voice Commands — And I want everything to be voice command enabled. Talk about flattening the learning curve on adopting the technology – I can still barely use the basics on my state-of-the-art smartphone – if I had to invest significant time to learn a new set of commands, I would be very frustrated (easy button please!).
- No Additional Hardware — I DO NOT want to have the technology require any additional “wear-able” hardware in order to operate it, though I could consider compromising on having the system distinguish different users via a thin client on their cell phones. However, I am convinced there are other, biometric ways for the system to distinguish users via a combination of motion detection and voice command (see #3 above).
- Command Center Interface — I want a command center type of interface that tells me the status and verifies the connectivity of all my devices graphically. If my HVAC system needs a new filter, or my sprinkler system needs repair, or my server needs an injection of RAM, I want an indicator light and message on the command center just like I get the indicator light in my car when it needs an oil change. Oh, and I would like it to tell me in English versus some techno-geek, engineering code that I have to scrutinize and translate via the user manual to understand.
- Remote Access — It needs to have remote access capabilities for the command center – preferably from any web browser but alternatively from thin clients downloadable on any flavor of smartphone so I always have control via remote access. Even better – the home could be tied into the GPS on my phone so it knows when I am approaching and can turn on climate control, entertainment, illumination controls, de-activate my security system, etc. prior to my driving into my driveway.
- Proactive trouble-shooting — If something goes wrong (this is software, after all) I want the device/command center to take charge of reporting the trouble and starting a diagnostic process in which it “self-heals” – downloading the latest firmware or software patch and restarting and reconnecting itself. If a more extensive repair is required, report it to the central station office and put the next available appointment into an opening on my calendar.
- Security — It must be secure with protective monitoring and safety controls in place to protect against both unauthorized access and user error or misuse (e.g. when my 5 year niece old tells the house to go to 100 degrees – over-ride that command, gratuitous 2001: A Space Odessey reference here). Ideally it has built-in, biometric voice recognition software tailored to a specific individual so a super user is recognized by his/her voice and has master user privileges for set-up, command privilege hierarchy and control.
- Intelligence — I want it to be intelligent enough to “learn” from activities preformed, by user, so that it can suggest activities or settings and distinguish individual users (my 6 year old son’s television channels or favorite Internet sites – with parental controls – distinguished from those of myself or my wife).
- Function Properly — Lastly, it needs to WORK. As a former product manager who has written dozens of product requirement definitions (PRDs to the geeks out there like me), I don’t want to hear about missing features or incompatibility issues due to manufacturer spats or lack of standards. I am less concerned about whether or not my refrigerator can sense that we’re running low on milk and alert me or re-order from a grocery delivery service (if any of these services return in my lifetime) – I just want delivery on the promise of the ultimate smart home.
Here’s to the future of home automation and showing it off to your friends – here’s to the ultimate status symbol – the M2M connected smart home!
By Stein Soelberg, Director of Marketing
Stein leads a team whose responsibility is to own the branding, advertising, customer engagement, loyalty, partnership and public relations initiatives designed to propel KORE into the 21st century. With over 15 years of technology marketing experience in the business to business software, Internet services and telecommunications industries, Stein brings a proven track record of launching successful MVNOs and building those brands into leaders.