Has the “smart home” finally arrived? A changing consumer mindset, the advent of new connected devices and technologies, and a market where more people are spending time at home and in front of their gadgets may be creating the perfect storm where the smart home can finally be delivered as promised.
The changing consumer mindset and the advent of new devices and technologies seemingly go hand-in-hand in this scenario. Whereas in years past, home automation was viewed as a costly and often intimidating investment for the average homeowner, today the process of making a home smart has become much more personal.
This trend can be linked in large part to the creation of such devices as the iPhone and iPad. When Apple launched these devices, it opened up people’s eyes to the capabilities of technology, and as a result they now want their technology to do so much more. Homeowners are relying on new devices to manage and move data in all facets of their lives, including their homes.
Whether directly or indirectly, this trending towards a more connected lifestyle has created a new desire by homeowners to have more technology installed in homes. Market research indicates 1.8 million home automation systems shipped globally this year, and expectations are for that number to reach 12 million shipments by 2016.
For some, this is during new construction, but for others it becomes a retrofit approach. It looks like the latter is gaining more traction as of late. According to analysis from ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, the market for custom-designed and installed home automation systems has shifted. While, traditionally, the majority of these systems were installed in new builds, ABI’s data suggests 60% of all mid- to high-end home automation installations are actually retrofits and renovations. New builds now represent the remaining 40% of installations—down from approximately 90% prior to the recession hitting.
Retrofits and renovations have historically not been the norm when it comes to home automation installations. This was due in part to a variety of factors, including unreliable wireless protocols and the cost to equip an existing home for technology. However, those days seem long gone and given the advent of such wireless protocols as ZigBee and Z-Wave, the market for home automation retrofits seems budding.
For builders, the question becomes where do the opportunities exist? Perhaps home automation becomes an attractive upsell during construction, or in keeping with the trend, it is something that can be revisited with past clients that want to upgrade their in-home experience. In either case, it is best to get up to speed on the latest devices, technologies, and options available.
Trade shows like CES (Consumer Electronics Show), www.cesweb.org, which will be held in early January in Las Vegas, have dedicated tracks focused on the future of home automation. One to note in particular is slated for Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, called “Home Entertainment and Lifestyle Technologies.” Market experts and visionaries will debate such topics as how big the market opportunity is and where smart appliances and even the topic of energy management fits in. It looks to be an excellent opportunity to look at the products and trends driving smart-home innovation.