IoT morphing into HoT -- the new battlefront

30 Jun 2014

As featured on TM Forum's The Insider

The home has become the new battlefront to capture the hearts, minds and dollars of the connected generation. The battle to own the customer is definitely shifting to who owns the home because it has multiple connections that are growing daily with the explosion in M2M and connected devices.

The Internet of Things (IoT) may need to be renamed Home of Things (HoT) if this continues. Even the Connected Car will join in when it’s parked in the home garage space.

If you think I’m dreaming just take a look at the slew of the HoT news lately. Apple HomeKit announced at the recent developer’s conference. It is described as “a new framework for communicating with and controlling connected devices in a user’s home. Apps can enable users to discover devices in their home and configure them, or you can create actions to control those devices. Users can group actions together and trigger them using Siri.”

Google’s earlier investment in Nest Labs, the firm behind mobile-enabled smart thermostats and smoke alarms, has expanded itself with the $555 million acquisition of Dropcam, and plans to work with a variety of products, including LIFX light bulbs, the MyQ garage opener from Chamberlain, Logitech’s universal remote, Jawbone, Mercedes-Benz and Google’s own voice controls. The news is an expected expansion of the Nest platform that will act as an “information hub for devices in the home.”

These are only two examples of a number of competing ecosystems now vying for the home space so long thought to be the domain of fixed line, cable and broadband suppliers that connected it to the outside world. Oh, and let’s not forget the efforts of the utility suppliers and their smart meters that were tipped to be the center of the home area network (HAN) technology enabling remote connection to, and control of, many automated digital devices throughout a house. Smart meters were supposed to integrate with the HAN and communicate peak/economy energy use times to digital devices.

The process of embedding devices and smart home appliances with addressable chipsets and unique IP addresses is already underway and these devices will eventually have enough intelligence ‘built-in’ to do away with separate load control switches on circuits and appliances.

However, each smart grid device having an IP address and being connected to a network also introduces greater risk – if a hacker gets into the system, they could potentially shut down a home. This is a hugely important issue.

Connectivity to the home is one thing but as Rob Gelphman from MoCA points out, “Both the devices and the sources of content are redefining the connected homes. In contrast to earlier local area networks (LAN) which were often limited islands of digital access, a truly connected home provides seamless, ‘anything-to-anywhere’ data access for computers, internet-enabled TVs, digital media players, game platforms, and other media appliances.”

Even the means of connection in the home is contentious with Wi-Fi, Coax and even PowerLine vying for attention.

So, the battle lines are forming and will win the home remains a mystery at this stage. Telecom operators may think they hold the advantage right now but the importance of the connection may pale into insignificance if the gadgets in the home are managed by an OTT player. Maybe, just maybe, the security aspect of all this connectedness may be the biggest selling point for the telcos. Worth thinking about?

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