2013 might well go down as the year the connected home made its mark in consumer electronics with a lot of exposure at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

This was another big year for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.  CES had more than 150,000 attendees with a record 1.9 million square feet of exhibit space from more than 3,250 companies.  Having attended several CES shows, I can say that much of what was on display this year had a familiar feel. It was hard to walk too far on the show floor without bumping into staggeringly large televisions, the latest and greatest in smartphones or the thinnest tablets. That said, 2013 might well go down as the year the connected home made its mark in consumer electronics.

Alarm.com was fortunate to be a part of CES Unveiled, where new cutting-edge technology is showcased, and it was a great experience.  Among some of the more innovative — and unexpected — technology products such as a smart fork that vibrates when you eat too much and video cameras embedded into ski goggles were a growing number of monitoring, alerting and energy management products.  It was this consistent thread of the connected home throughout the show that really stood out as significant shift from last year. 

There were a few key themes that emerged as I walked the floor and talked to participants at this year’s show:

1)      The Connected Home has Arrived

Attendees were exposed to a broad range of companies at CES all talking about the connected home.  Software companies such as Alarm.com were joined by traditional home security firms, home improvement retail chains, large wireless and cable providers now entering the market, as well as countless mobile and home energy startups seeking to establish themselves.  There was an explosion in the number of companies offering services in the connected home that ranged from security and awareness to energy management, lifestyle and entertainment. 

Even major electronics manufacturers like Samsung and Toshiba were presenting connected home solutions, including appliances monitoring and control, energy management and, yes, home security.  Clearly there is an opportunity and an expectation to meet consumer demand. The security system is a great platform for the connected home, especially when energy management and home automation are integrated into the solution. This will help raise awareness for these services, but it will be important for security providers to have a clear message about their services to stand out from the crowd.

2)      The Smartphone is at the Epicenter of Home Control

The smartphone and tablet continued to dominate the personal device category.  CES 2013 made it crystal clear that consumers want to use these devices to stay connected with everything in their lives, including their home. Home control is now more possible then ever through smart mobile apps that can be as valuable and convenient for use inside the home as they are remotely. The takeaway for home security and automation providers is that a “mobile-first” strategy is critical, and an integrated, easy-to-use experience will win consumer attention.

3)       Everything in the Home will be Connected

Another clear trend is that more and more devices in the home will start to be connected devices.  From security systems, to thermostats, to appliances, to TVs, to forks and spoons and even toilets, new products are being built to communicate and connect as a standard feature.  It creates a great opportunity as the Internet of things emerges to be the provider of the connective tissue in the home.  Interactive home security systems are still the most mature solutions, and new devices and experiences will continue to get connected within the home over the coming years.  Connectivity is becoming a requirement, but ease-of-installation, ease-of-use and ultimately providing value will factor heavily going forward. 

4)      Home Security Companies are Well-Positioned

In many ways this is a great sign for the security industry.  The emergence of home security and automation technologies at venues such as CES reflect a significant opportunity for the market to reach beyond first adopters to the mass market.  Security dealers who offer a connected solution will benefit from the increased category awareness, but greater awareness will make it more important to continue to differentiate within an increasingly noisy competitive landscape.  Security dealers are well-positioned to take advantage of broader interest through a connected home solution that integrates home security, video monitoring, energy management and home automation through easy to use mobile apps.

 It is always fun to see all the new technology and consumer electronics coming out in the next year.  It was even more enjoyable to know we in the security industry are at the forefront of connecting and delivering these services in the home.