People often mistakenly credit Thomas Edison with the invention of the light bulb. That credit actually goes to several earlier inventors who improved and developed the first electric light bulbs. What Edison did was create the first commercially practical light bulb, bringing the light bulb to the masses by creating a long-life bulb that was cheaper to produce.
Today, we flick on and off lights without thinking about it, although Edison’s light bulb has been replaced by energy-efficient LED solutions and new control options. Lighting control (1) is one of several “hot” technologies that are becoming more broadly accepted, including geo-fencing (2), dimmers and sensors (3), voice control (4), home energy management (5), remote management (6), touchscreens (7), smart locks (8), garage door control (9), and multi-tasking hardware (10) — to name just a few of the newest technologies to watch this summer and into next year. These technologies are all evolving on the foundations that made Edison’s light bulb a breakthrough: a mass-market price point with the promise of convenience and overall lifestyle upgrades.
You now can pick up your smartphone and turn on or off the light with a simple wireless pairing between your phone and the bulb. In 2012, Insteon, Irvine, Calif., a developer of home automation technology, pulled back the curtain on the INSTEON LED Bulb 8 Watt, a networked remote control dimmable LED light bulb. Others have followed. In July, General Electric’s (GE) new LED bulb, Link, went on sale at Home Depot and will hit stores in the fall. It will be used with the buzz-garnering Wink, a platform uniting close to 60 devices from 15 manufacturers of home products ranging from light bulbs and locks to window shades, irrigation systems and water heaters. LIFX Wi-Fi light bulbs, which retail for $99, are listed to be compatible with Nest in the future. Even the newly announced Lutron Smart Bridge Pro supports the telligent™ LED bulb by GE®, which is embedded with Lutron’s Clear Connect Wireless technology and controlled by a Pico wireless remote. The bulb will be available late 2014.
Your clients can use geo-fencing to turn on their lights when their car reaches a certain distance from the home using services such as location-based thermostat automation from Alarm.com, Vienna, Va. Read more at www.SDMmag.com/geo-fenced-thermostat.The new Honeywell Lyric thermostat also relies on geo-fencing to automatically turn the Lyric thermostat into energy-saving mode when a home is empty, and then senses when homeowners are coming home and heats or cools the house to their preferred temperature. “Comfort When You’re Home, Savings When You’re Away,” is the tagline for the new product, which uses an app available in the App Store and Google Play, but will also be MFi-compatible and available on Apple’s new HomeKit.
Further maximizing a home’s lighting control and boosting energy management are dimmers and sensors from companies such as Lutron, Coopersburg, Pa., which adjust to the actual amount of light needed throughout the day. This can extend the life of bulbs and save on lighting, which accounts for almost 20 percent of the average homeowner’s monthly electric bill, according to Lutron. In this case, Lutron integrates with the Honeywell VISTA series of alarm panels to support lighting, shade and temperature control. By supporting Lutron’s RadioRA 2 Total Home Control System, the VISTA panels allow installers to offer homeowners the ability to save energy and create lighting scenes based on whether their security systems are armed.
You also can control new smart home technologies, including lighting, with voice control. ADT, Boca Raton, Fla., Honeywell Security, Melville, N.Y., and VoicePod, created by HouseLogix Inc., Allenton, Pa., are some of the companies giving homeowners the option to simply speak in order to turn off and on the lights and control multiple functions found in many major home control systems. ADT Pulse Voice Control and Honeywell’s Total Connect are among home security systems that have announced a voice control offering. While voice control still has some kinks to work out, including 100 percent accuracy, it definitely has the sizzle that gets homeowners’ attention.
Lighting is part of home energy management (HEM), another “hot” technology to consider offering to homeowners. “Over the coming decade, a continued desire among consumers to reduce bills, regulatory mandates for greater efficiency, wider use of variable pricing schemes, and a strong green sentiment will combine to help drive adoption forward,” reports IHS Technology, Englewood, Colo. Additionally, Navigant Research, Boulder, Colo., forecasts that global revenue from various segments of the HEM market will grow from $300.7 million in 2012 to $1.8 billion in 2022.
That revenue is driven by the promise of savings — savings that is starting to be proven. One year after launching Nest energy services, Nest Labs Inc. announced what savings had been achieved. Read the details at www.SDMmag.com/Nest-Reports-Savings.
HEM can drive energy savings from 1.5 percent to more than 40 percent, but its value extends beyond savings — to customer engagement, competitive differentiation, and demand response, according to Lux Research.
Earlier this year Parks Associates, Dallas, reported that currently 75 percent of U.S. homes have broadband, and more than 80 percent of these households have a home network. One of the biggest headaches with connecting more and more devices in the home is managing them — and managing the home network. New technologies will help with that.
“We monitor and offer remote support services by utilizing a remote start control box connected to the Internet,” shares Stuart Forchheimer, president of HS Technology Group in Baltimore. “There are several services that will monitor their existing network and when a device stops communicating, we receive an alert and can troubleshoot a keypad or cable box and remotely restart the device before clients realize they are having issues. This is just another way to offer better service and keep the recurring monthly revenue coming in,” he says.
For example, SnapAV, Charlotte, N.C., a manufacturer of A/V solutions, offers the WattBox app for cloud-enabled Wattbox IP+ products. The new app allows users to claim individual WattBox units once connected to the cloud through the Web portal or mobile app, allowing dealers to see all their customers in one centralized location. The app allows for customer management, real-time notifications of voltage, wattage, user events and more.
Another issue with networks is bandwidth. New technologies such as NETGEAR’s Nighthawk X6 AC3200 Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router (R8000) balances the network load to ensure the best Wi-Fi performance for each device and deliver the maximum wireless range available today.
Today’s homes that combine many new and old Wi-Fi devices need tri-band routers such as the Nighthawk X6 to optimize the speed of each device, whether it is an old laptop or the newest smartphone. Nighthawk X6 intelligently segments slower and faster devices into the most appropriate Wi-Fi band. This network load balancing and segmentation enables the X6 to mitigate interference and more effectively support all Wi-Fi devices, including more Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Another growing trend is the use of touchscreens in place of keypads — an option some manufacturers see as more intuitive than traditional keypads.
“People expect more from their technology purchases. Everyone wants a touchscreen. Gone are the days of the rubber number touch pad,” shares Mike Hackett, vice president of sales and marketing, QolSys, Cupertino, Calif. Quolsys’ IQ Panel, powered by Alarm.com, is built on Google’s Android mobile operating system. The seven-inch touchscreen tightly integrates with Alarm.com’s connected home services platform.
Manufacturers continue to make further enhancements to their touchscreens. For example, one of Honeywell’s latest touchscreens can display images from up to four cameras simultaneously, eliminating the need for homeowners to find their smartphones in order to view the cameras.
Crestron announced that its next generation V-Panel 20-inch HD Touch Screen Display (TSD-2020) has capacitive touch. The Apple iPhone is the most popular example of a capacitive touchscreen-based device. Capacitive touchscreens distinguish and sense specific touch location based on the electrical impulses in a human body, typically the fingertip. This enables capacitive touchscreens to not require any actual force to be applied to the screen’s surface.
Honeywell Security’s Rob Puric expects to see more touchscreens that support smartphone-style capabilities such as the ability to swipe a finger across the screen to move to a new view (this feature already exists on Honeywell’s Lynx 7000).
Some argue touchscreens will be an afterthought to upcoming gesture control and voice recognition technologies. Time will tell.
Even door locks, another big residential growth category, have touchscreens. They also work with smartphones and can be controlled remotely.
According to a new report from NextMarket Insights, Edmonds, Wash., the global smart lock market is expected to grow from $261 million today to $3.6 billion by 2019.
“The mainstreaming of the smart home is driving innovation in previously forgotten categories of home hardware and systems,” says Michael Wolf, chief analyst with NextMarket Insights.
The first wave of smart locks were based on Z-Wave and Zigbee, but now a new category of locks with integrated Bluetooth Low Energy, Wi-Fi and possibly NFC are coming to market.
NextMarket Insights believes the ability for smart lock owners to create digital keys for guests, track activity and revoke keys using apps and cloud management tools will prove extremely popular selling points for smart locks in coming years. Every dealer SDMspoke with for this article listed smart locks as a rising category within their company.
Dealers also listed garage door access to the home, which is often more common than any door, as a technology to watch. Seventy percent of homeowners use the garage door as the front door, according to Paul Accardo, manager of marketing communications, LiftMaster, Elmhurst, Ill. Currently, the LiftMaster myQ® technology pairs with Alarm.com and Nest. Alarm.com subscribers have remote access of their garage door opener via the Alarm.com mobile app. The rules engine from Alarm.com automatically closes the garage door when the security system is armed and provides instant notification if the garage door is left open too long. Nest customers can quickly check if they closed the garage door and set the thermostat to “Away” to save on energy bills.
Automated control and remote notifications about the garage door (Is it open/is it closed?) help add to the peace of mind homeowners are looking for, Accardo says.
The Linear GD00Z Z-Wave Garage Door Controller allows for the remote operation of the sectional garage door, and, as part of the Z-Wave mesh network in a home, can turn lights on and off, unlock Z-Wave-enabled door locks and even disarm the alarm panel. The hub can be set to automatically close the garage door at specific times, making sure that it is closed at night or when no one is home. The Linear GD00Z Z-Wave Garage Door Controller won the ESX Maximum Impact Award for Best Access Control/ID System for Gate/Door Operators.
IHS reports a mass-market trend in North America and Western Europe toward the increased use of multi-sensor detectors. Combining multiple technologies into a single detector is more efficient and helps reduce false alarms, and IHS forecasts the global multi-sensor detector market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7 percent from 2013 to 2018.
One product can provide the coverage of multiple detectors, so fewer pieces overall need to be installed. In high labor wage areas, this can offer real savings. For this reason, wireless, system-connected offerings, such as the ELK-6050 Wireless Smoke Detector from Elk Products, Hildebran, N.C., are also growing.
Also contributing to growth in the multi-sensor market is the increasing awareness of carbon monoxide (CO) detection in residential and commercial applications. Parts of the United States and Europe have passed legislation that requires CO detection in single- and multi-family homes, and some healthcare facilities. Instead of installing individual smoke and CO detectors, combination units are becoming a popular choice to meet the legislative requirements. Look for new offerings to hit the market, in addition to strong products from System Sensor and Nest Protect. Read Nest’s findings at www.SDMmag.com/Nest-CO-Report.
Multi-functioning products also are a valuable technology for dealers and homeowners in the future, costing less while doing more. Resolution Products, Hudson, Wis., offers a Home Disaster sensor that combines three environmental sensors into one: a low-temperature sensor, a high-temperature sensor, and a water sensor.
“In northern climates your furnace can fail or run away or you can have your pipes freeze — all those are pretty bad disasters. While those things don’t happen all the time, the prospect of them happening makes a big difference. We’ve seen large and small dealers selling a lot of these sensors by presenting homeowners’ safety, security and peace of mind,” says Brian Seemann, president and co-founder of Resolution Products.
Josh Houser, director of sales, Resolution Products, adds, “We didn’t invent the flood sensor and we didn’t invent the temperature sensors, but we did look at what existed and say we could advance the technology to allow one sensor to do them all, saving cost and installation time for dealers.”
This continuous evolution of technology, much like Edison’s upgrade of the light bulb, continues to create the new, “hot” technologies in the residential market.
There are just a few of them. Which residential technologies is your company focused on? What kind of growth are you seeing? Share your experiences by contacting Senior Editor, Heather Klotz-Young, at email@example.com.
Create a ‘Mass Customized’ Lighting Solution
The newly announced Lutron Smart Bridge Pro connects Lutron’s Caseta® Wireless dimmers, Pico® remote controls, Serena™ remote-controlled shades, and third-party devices to a new Lutron app, providing lighting and home control from iOS and Android-based smartphones. “The solution allows us to position simple, reliable lighting control systems to a new customer, the mid-market homeowner. This is something we haven’t done before,” says David Weinstein, vice president, Residential Systems Sales for Lutron. He adds that the Smart Bridge Pro is differentiated for custom channels. “It has the ability to do AV and security integration, allowing the integrator to create a mass customized solution for the customer,” he adds. Learn more at www.lutron.com
Another DIY on the Market to Promote Home Automation
Quirky, an innovation start-up, has set up a separate company, Wink, whose main technology is software intended to be the equivalent of an open operating system, helping to seamlessly connect all kinds of automated home devices. The Wink app is free in the iTunes App Store, and lets homeowners connect to a variety of devices such as Honeywell thermostats and Schlage door locks. The Wink Hub also communicates to devices such as Dropcams, Leviton outlets/switches and more. Learn more at www.winkapp.com.
Reduce Lighting Cost With Dimmers
Dimmers reduce power to the lighting source or bulb, so they save energy and can extend bulb life. Incandescent and halogen bulbs last up to 20 times longer when used with a dimmer, increasing the money saved. LED bulbs run cooler when dimmed which also can extend bulb life. See more at www.lutron.com.
Customize Voice Control for Individual Rooms
VoicePod Mobile connects to Control4 systems. Once linked it knows the name of each room in your house, and also which voice controllable functions are available within each room. See more at www.voicepod.com.
Personalized Voice Control
ADT Pulse® Voice is a new app that combines the ADT features with personal voice commands. ADT Pulse Voice technology enables homeowners to log in and log out of the Pulse Voice app via custom technology that recognizes unique voice signatures. Once logged in, users can arm and disarm their Pulse security panel, control their home’s lighting, adjust thermostats, lock and unlock doors, and check the overall status of their home — all verbally and virtually touchless through an iOS or Android smartphone. Read more at www.SDMmag.com/ADT-Voice-Control.
Increase Energy Saving By Accounting for Natural Light
Leviton’s Provolt ODC family of line-voltage occupancy and vacancy sensors include line voltage occupancy sensing, daylight harvesting and manual-ON/auto-OFF override control in a single unit with no special control stations required. Leviton’s auto-adapting technology continually adjusts to occupancy patterns to deliver optimal performance reliability and false triggering prevention. To enhance energy savings, Provolt occupancy sensor models feature true daylight harvesting (both open and closed loop) through an integrated photocell that automatically activates or deactivates connected loads (e.g., lighting, fans, HVAC, etc.) in conjunction with the presence or absence of natural light. Read more at www.SDMmag.com/Harvest-Daylight.
Save Truck Rolls for Common Network Issues
Ihiji’s ConnectNinja allows authorized network technicians simple and secure remote access to troubleshoot and configure their client’s devices and networks through the ihiji invision Web portal. ihiji invision, a cloud-based remote network management system, simplifies the work of IT professionals and technology integrators worldwide. Utilizing an intuitive central dashboard, ihiji invision, users can detect, diagnose and resolve network issues, saving the time and cost of troubleshooting or rolling a truck. Learn more at www.ihiji.com.
Integrate Locks with the Home Control System
The Yale Real Living™ Key Free Touchscreen Deadbolt can be integrated into a wide range of security and home control systems, including Alarm.com’s emPower™, which supports both 2GIG and Interlogix, Honeywell’s Total Connect, DSC’s Connect 24, Control4, Crestron and the Vera Z-Wave® home control system by Mi Casa Verde, among others. Learn more at www.yale2you.com.
The iPhone is the Key
The Kwikset Kevo™ smart lock is a Bluetooth-enabled deadbolt. By installing Kevo and downloading the mobile app, the homeowner’s iPhone® becomes the key with the ability to unlock the door with their smartphone and a simple touch; send electronic keys (eKeys) to family, friends and service people; and receive notifications whenever a user enters or exits their door.
Easily Manage User Codes
The Touchscreen Deadbolt from Schlage®, a brand of Allegion, can hold up to 30 unique access codes and is designed to support temporary codes for homeowner convenience. Codes can be tailored to specific days and times of the week to provide home access only when scheduled, such as for cleaning service personnel. Depending on the current setting, the built-in alarm technology enables homeowners to hear instantly when someone goes in or out, tampers with the lock or tries to break into the home.
ELK-6050 Two-Way Wireless Sound All™ Smoke Detector
New laws require sounders and smoke detectors be located in every bedroom, in addition to every common point of egress. In compliance, the ELK-6050 Wireless Smoke Detector provides a two-way wireless solution with signal acknowledgement and a built-in sounder. In the event of a fire alarm, whether detected by the ELK-6050 or another source, ELK’s two-way wireless technology allows ELK M1 Controls to activate the built-in sounders of all enrolled smoke detectors to quickly evacuate everyone in the home. Learn more at www.elkproducts.com.
Combination CO/Smoke Detector With Simplified Installation, Testing
The i4 Series Combination CO/Smoke Detector and Interface Module from System Sensor, St. Charles, Ill., is a system-connected, combination solution for conventional fire and security systems. That means less wire, less labor and less devices on the wall or ceiling, according to System Sensor. The i4 detector’s CO sensor also includes RealTest® capability — the first functional CO test fully compliant with NFPA 720: 2009. Per the requirement, RealTest enables the functionality of the CO sensing cell to be tested using a short spray of canned CO. Learn more at www.systemsensor.com.
Nest Research Reports CO Occurrences
Currently, most carbon monoxide events are self-reported, but the Nest automatically records and events, leading to a compelling first round of research.
Nest’s first CO white paper contains several notable findings about the nature and length of CO events including:
- 0.15 percent of homes experienced a CO event per month between November 2013 and May 2014.
- Nest Protect’s data suggests that at least one million households across the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada are exposed to high levels of CO each year.
Lighting, Energy Management Among Leading Technologies
SDM asked its readers: What Is the ‘Hottest’ Technology in the Residential Market?
“In the residential market, the hottest technologies are lighting and shade control. Then there’s the connected home with a variety of Z-Wave devices. Streaming music, distributed audio/video, and cloud-based services offered with better remote support services are also strong. A variety of superior outdoor TVs and speaker systems are also making outdoor living spaces very popular. — Stuart Forchheimer, HS Technology Group, Baltimore
“Z-Wave products are ‘hot’ technology, especially thermostats and locks. Unlike the programmable thermostats people have been accustomed to, these are extremely easy to use. The schedule set by the user is easy to override when needed and just as simple to return to because the activity is done through an Internet application the user accesses from his/her mobile device or computer. Z-Wave-based door locks are also a ‘hot’ technology that interfaces well with the security systems we install. The user can enter a code into the door lock that causes the door to unlock and the security system to disarm simultaneously — in one action. The user can also give another person access to their home without handing out a key. — Steve Schwartz, director of new technology, Guardian Protection Services, Warrendale, Pa.
“Without a doubt home automation systems are the hottest technology. Our ‘go-to’ products are Control 4 and Alarm.com. These two solutions allow us to cover the high- and low-end automation marketplace. The mid- to high-end markets want customized control systems, so these systems are only as good as our ability to add onto them over time. Many customers start with a simple universal remote but eventually add sub-systems to manage other experiences within the home. It is all about giving the customer the ability to manage their homes remotely or on-site. — Maggie George, president, iWired, Scottsdale, Ariz. (on the cover on this month’s issue. Read more from George in the cover story, “How to Succeed in the Residential Market.”
“Home automation technologies paired with a monitored security system that has remote access is the hottest technology for us. We’ve had 100 percent increase year over year for activation of those systems. It is pretty clear that video and energy management are the most in demand with remote locks also growing quickly. Non-alarm event notification is also important to homeowners and it drives engagement and retention. — Jim Boots, chief revenue officer, Central Security Group, Tulsa, Okla.
“Audio and security still remain the top two systems we install. I feel that this time next year home automation will have made a jump as customer awareness of affordable systems increases. — Dee Straub, vice president/COO, Structured Cable of VA, Richmond, Va.