The Coming Revolution in Home Security and Automation

    Futurists and bloggers — and blogging futurists — talk about the “Internet of things.” Part of the attraction is simply that it’s an evocative phrase, especially in a field in which many terms are highly technical and a bit drab.

    The advent of IPv6 — eliminating the possible scarcity of IP addresses as a gating factor — and the explosion of mobility is generally making the Internet of things a reality. Two of the most promising areas are home security and its big brother, home automation.

    The home security industry in the United States historically has topped out at about 20 percent penetration. Until now, about eight out of 10 folks simply were not interested. Doubling that number — still would be less than 50 percent penetration — is a realistic goal in this new landscape.

    A survey released in mid-December by the Consumer Electronics Association and reported upon at Tom’s Networking found that 62 percent of online consumers interested in home automation are attracted by the safety and security that the technology offers. That ties the two services together and suggests a significant pent-up demand for the security element of an offering.

    There are a couple of important issues to think about when juxtaposing the limited penetration of home security with the finding that such a high percentage of people are intrigued by the notion. The first is that modern technology offers subscribers a much more expansive view of home security than the services with which they are familiar today. Today, for the most part, home security is limited to alarms and calls to a central station. Today’s technology allows great additional features, such as surveillance via remote cameras, text messages when doors are opened and closed, and others. This, of course, will make home security more attractive.

    The second important reason that home security will grow is that it will simply become a module in a broader home automation platform. It no longer has to justify itself on a standalone basis. Other home automation features — such as utility control, entertainment networking and home office networking — form a comprehensive platform. Home security will simply be a menu check-off item.

    Recently, AOLReal Estate discussed an investment that the Blackstone private equity firm made in Vivint, a company that installs home security systems. The commentary made the link between security and the broader world of home automation:

    It turns out that private company Vivint, which had sales of nearly $400 million in 2012 and is second in residential security only to ADT, is becoming much more than a security firm. CEO Todd Pedersen sees the security business as a way to sell his customers everything from smart thermostats to lighting control systems and even rooftop solar systems. Says Pedersen, who favors plaid shirts and a baseball cap with “Vivint” scrawled across its front: “We’ve been an industry that hasn’t innovated in 20 years. “

    This example is a bit extreme, but Business Insider offers a story on Savan Kotecha, who is one of the producers of the television program “The X Factor.” Kotecha has spent $80,000 customizing his house to be controlled by his Apple mobile gadgets. The story suggests how far this all may go:

    In the future, he also wants automated blinds in the nursery and automated awnings in the backyard for shade.

    The concept of the “Internet of things” almost is too much to truly comprehend. It encompasses everything from sensors on pipelines hundreds of feet underwater to refrigerators pinging the manufacturer when a compressor is operating outside of parameters. However, the idea that such technology can make homes more secure, energy efficient and fun to live in is not too difficult to understand.

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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