Most home technology professionals have opinions about the best way to do home automation. Each company has manufacturers they prefer and has their go-to products. I’ve been around more than one heated debate revolving around the benefits of one control system over another. Those debates tend to end the same way: the participants agree to disagree and continue using the system they were arguing for, convinced now more than ever of its merits.
Debates on home automation are nothing new, but some recent ones have less to do with one system over another and more about the available solutions or even perceived threat to what we do. Let us help decode and offer perspective on some of these debates that happen to be inter-connected.
Wireless Automation Solutions
Previously, wireless solutions for home automation didn’t exist, and many integrators earned a good portion of their check running wires in new home builds. As the housing market slowed and dipped, fewer new home builds were happening and the demand for retrofit options began to pick up. Even then integrators would work to find creative cabling solutions that didn’t involve tearing out walls completely. Retrofit has also paved the way for wireless solutions. Many integrators see this as a threat, a DIY specific threat. Some of these new devices may be able to lower the point of entry for homeowners to have what they think is a connected home, but as soon as they start scaling up, snags occur because each system lives within its own little silo. Sure there will be DIY, tech-savvy people who can make a system work — but integrators have the unique ability to create a user experience. That is something you can and should be charging for.
Commoditized Home Automation
Recent announcements in the home automation category may be causing home technology professionals to sweat, and you may be wondering why. There are some big players making moves into the market, players with huge advertising budgets to catch those consumer eyeballs. In reality, they’re not a threat. Big companies can deliver an out-of-the-box option that works, but can that system work across all platforms out of the box? Heck no! Is that part of their “solution” advertised? Heck no! Again, this is where home technology professionals can come in and provide a service that people would be willing to pay for versus wasting hours upon hours on installing their own rigged system that does not deliver a consistent experience.
Multi-Application Home Control
Is anyone else sick of hearing the phrase, “There’s an App for that”? Just because it’s true does not make it any less annoying. The fact remains that nearly every manufacturer has an app to accompany their product and it’s not widely different than 10, 15, or 20 years ago when every product had its own remote. Manufacturers have taken time to make robust apps that are tested and vetted, providing a native environment that is more intuitive for users. Some argue that a multi-application approach is cumbersome and provides the user with a broken, disjointed experience. Proponents of the multi-application approach like to point out that unless the devices that are controlled by the apps need to talk to one another there is no issue, especially with the evolution of app APIs (application programming interfaces).
Did these debates just serve to confuse you even more or seek to avoid installing home automation solutions altogether? Hopefully not. Integrated systems continue to show growth in both number of projects and revenue year over year. You can learn more about home automation and where to get started by attending CEDIA EXPO 2014 at the Colorado Convention Center Sept. 11–13. There is training that addresses each one of these debates and much more. Visit cedia.net/expo to learn more.