Originally published in IoT Agenda
Ninety-nine percent of appliances and devices in the home are not connected. Today, you have no idea if the HVAC is working efficiently, let alone if it is about to breakdown. Ditto for your hot water heater, washer, dryer, dishwasher, etc. The failure of any one of these appliances is a major inconvenience and significant expense in any scenario. Could big data fundamentally change this situation? Could appliance intelligence be gleaned? Could homes and the appliances that are in them be made smart and energy efficient with one device?
The path to this future requires data — big data — on each appliance and home to observe and analyze appliance and home energy consumption patterns, trends and anomalies. So, what is the best approach to in essence network each home to attain this kind of data intelligence?
Each appliance in the home is already connected to the power or electrical network — but that network needs to be made accessible, with the data being sampled at high frequencies and connected to the internet. And better yet, this connection should be enabled not by replacing every appliance and device in the home, which would take decades, but with one device that could be easily installed today.
Connecting the potential with the premise of the connected home requires rethinking what a smart home is and how devices could be made “smart” at scale. There are four strategies for the IoT industry serving the residential market to consider as it seeks to connect and realize the full potential of connected home.
1. Focus on legacy devices
Today, IoT is fundamentally limited because there are 100 million households that do not have a single smart home device, with unconnected legacy devices creating dead zones in the home that constrain the full promise of connected home intelligence. Rather than relying solely on trying to grow adoption of smart home devices such as thermostats and lights among these millions of appliance types, a more immediate growth route for IoT is to make legacy home appliances “smart.”
The question is, how? Many IoT value propositions in energy, safety, control and efficiency will remain unfulfilled until companies within the IoT ecosystem can overcome the roadblocks created by these legacy devices. Technology that enables real-time connectivity in home efficiency, safety and convenience offers tremendous value to homeowners as well as the technology and service providers who enable it.
2. Convert data into value
Sensor data needs to get translated into tangible consumer value. This could be done in a variety of ways: delivering insights that engage and inform about what matters to people, their homes and the safety, lifestyle and comfort of their families; partnering with connected device and home platform companies to leverage home energy data to improve performance of other devices; and delivering data, insights and control through delightful emails, portals and mobile apps.
Appliance-level energy monitoring advances the optimization and insights of intelligent demand response programs, deepening HVAC disaggregation and boosting automated energy savings. Data, analysis and automation capabilities will enable both home and energy intelligence.
3. Reduce cost and complexity
A 2016 survey by Support.com underscores the key role cost and complexity of installation and usage will factor into smart home device adoption going forward. Thirty-one percent of smart home owners struggle with the complexity of configuration and technical support of connected devices and systems, and 43% of potential buyers are concerned about the complexity of installation and the connectivity of smart home devices. On the cost side, 67% of potential buyers say the cost to buy, set up and maintain a smart home system is the number one barrier to purchasing connected home devices or systems.
So, devices that measure home energy in real-time must be scalable and cost-effective. That means simple installation that is DIY without needing the time, inconvenience and expense of an electrician. We are already seeing vendors come to market with connected home products, hubs and monitoring devices that the consumer can easily set up themselves, and that is encouraging. Data from the home energy monitor must then be accessible via an API and architected to integrate with other data sets to produce insights and provide thoughtful control strategies.
4. Expand the ecosystem
Making the connected home a reality cannot fall solely to hardware vendors selling thermostats, lights and hub devices. The benefits IoT can deliver extend to a broad range of industry partners, including utilities, solar and energy companies, home automation providers and insurance companies.
Working collectively, homes and devices get smarter with whole home energy data and the integration of additional data sources. Weather datasets, integration with data from connected devices, and real-time whole home energy data — combined with intelligent algorithms — can drive predictive energy analytics that deliver home and appliance insights and automation that can provide substantial savings and value to consumers. This unparalleled combination of capabilities is driving the development and delivery of innovative services that add intelligence and can more quickly realise the potential of the smart home.