As consumers, we expect that our smart home products will work together easily and automatically, regardless of the manufacturer, and without needing to have specialized technical skills. We also expect to use the same method to access and control all of our smart home devices, rather than having to juggle separate user interfaces for each connected device.
Unfortunately, our expectations do not yet meet the reality of smart home products: The industry is still figuring out how to unify around a set of technology standards that will enable interoperable products.
It’s not for lack of trying, however. In the past few years, there have been more than 15 different groups and consortiums attempting to create the needed standards.
One of the most recent efforts, Project Connected Home over IP, holds promise. A working group launched late last year by Amazon, Apple, Google, Comcast, and the Zigbee Alliance, the effort plans to develop and promote adoption of a new, royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among smart-home products, and across home systems and assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google Assistant.
Stacey Higginbotham, a journalist and industry watcher who writes the weekly newsletter Stacey on IoT, said recently that she thinks Project Connected Home over IP is “a real thing that will happen,” especially since the industry’s so-called “walled gardens” approach to interoperability has stalled.
Despite the obvious business opportunity, “we’ve spent too many years thinking and asking ourselves how to communicate with devices,” Higginbotham told an audience of Ayla guests and customers at CES 2020.
Absent ways for devices to share information and work together, Higginbotham said, the truly smart home will remain a pipe dream.
In addition to working on a future compatibility and security standard, Project Connected Home recognizes another barrier to the road to widespread consumer adoption of smart home tech. That is, if smart home products we buy today become obsolete tomorrow, then the smart home will be accessible to those few consumers who can afford to be early adopters.
Until then, what’s a manufacturer to do?
Manufacturers must work hard to meet consumers’ increasingly sophisticated expectations for what a modern smart home can do.
As standards emerge, incorporating a flexible smart home platform like Ayla Networks that can support multiple and -- inevitably competing -- standards and protocols can help ensure that your next generation of smart-home products continues to support your customers. Contact
Ayla for a free consultation and to learn more about smart home device interoperability.