“There’s gold in them thar hills,” is the famous quote describing the California Gold Rush and 49ers. Today, companies talk about the smart home market as being a gold mine. But where is that gold located, exactly?

Wendy Toth, Ayla Network’s vice president of marketing, will be speaking about the smart home market and Internet of Things (IoT) data analytics at the upcoming Smart Home Summit in Frankfurt, Germany, April 6-7. She’ll provide the beginnings of a treasure map showing how to find smart home gold, which lies in the data generated by connected products.

To help you orient yourself, here’s some quick background on the smart home market.

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First of all, what is a smart home IoT device?

A smart home device is any object found in the home that is connected to the Internet, that can be controlled either from a remote location or via an app, and that has a primary function that isn’t computing related. Examples of smart home devices are connected locks, fans, heaters, thermostats and even coffee pots.

What is the size of the smart home market?

  • According to Juniper Research, “Smart home revenues will reach $100 billion by 2020, driven by automation and entertainment services.” The research analysts forecast that the number of connected appliances in smart homes will rise to over 20 million by 2020.
  • Parks Associates stated that 19% of U.S. broadband households currently own at least one Internet-connected smart home device. These devices, including smart thermostats, sprinkler systems, door locks and security cameras, offer remote control, monitoring or notifications via a smartphone, tablet or computer. Upward of 90% of smart home device owners use mobile apps to access cloud-supported services associated with their devices.

What are some challenges in the smart home market today?

BI Intelligence states that: “… the largest barrier is the technological fragmentation of the smart home ecosystem, in which consumers need multiple networking devices, apps and more to build and run their smart home.” The lack of standards and protocols makes it difficult for manufacturers to deliver connected products that interoperate with other manufacturers’ products, and for vastly different kinds of products—think ceiling fans and washing machines—to interoperate with one another. Very soon, the level of sophistication and interactions among smart home devices will mean that DIY consumers will be unable to assemble their own smart home networks.

What are smart home infrastructure systems?

Smart home infrastructure systems are those typically hidden, “behind-the-wall” things that keep a home efficiently and effectively. Things such as your water heater, HVAC system, water softener and air conditioner provide the backbone of your infrastructure. Running and maintaining these devices often goes beyond the capabilities of the average consumer.

What is data analytics in the smart home market? Who uses the data—consumers or manufacturers?

IoT data analytics in the smart home market means using the data generated by the connected products to take some action based on that data. Currently, data analytics is primarily of use to manufacturers, providing actionable business intelligence that they can use to iterate and enhance their products and services, as well as to forge closer ties with their customers. The use of data analytics can also be extended to manufacturers’ dealers and service representatives, or others in charge of maintaining or repairing consumers’ smart home devices.

In the future, smart home data analytics will likely also be useful for consumers, providing feedback to help them increase the energy efficiency or lifetime of their connected products, or to simplify their use. It will also be used increasingly by the connected products themselves—such as a sprinkler or HVAC system using real-time weather data to adjust its operation, or various smart home devices turning on automatically in response to data from a smart door lock about who is entering a home.

What does data mean to the smart home market?

Data generated by smart home devices allows manufacturers to tap into real-world end-user needs and wants, as demonstrated through their actual usage of connected smart home products. By acting on this data, manufacturers are better able to provide the features and add-on services that customers really want—and that they are willing to pay for. Of course, data analytics of connected IoT products can also help manufacturers anticipate evolving end-user desires, which can make it look like they’re staying one step ahead of their customers.

As the smart home market grows in size and sophistication, the advantages of IoT data analytics—the gold of the smart home market—will become clearer. At the same time, extracting that gold will become more challenging, as manufacturers discover the deep challenges of interoperability, security and other technological requirements. For that reason, one of the most important “mining” tools for extracting smart home gold will continue to be a comprehensive, robust IoT platform.

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