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The New “Mobile Home”: How the Internet of Things Is Increasing Home Connectivity, Part 1

The New “Mobile Home”: How the Internet of Things Is Increasing Home Connectivity, Part 1

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Technology is changing how we work, play and live – including the homes we live in. Last year, futurists predicted that the “Internet of Things” (IoT) would become commonplace. The idea hit home – and homebuilding – right off the bat, in January 2014, when Google spent $3.2 billion in cash to purchase Nest, makers of smart thermostats and smoke detectors controlled by the homeowner’s smartphone.

The high-profile acquisition set the industry into motion, and a year later, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was brimming with connected devices including lightbulbs, smart pet-feeders, self-watering flowerpots, smart toothbrushes and many more. 

These space-age gadgets can look like hype, but consumers are spending in the billions, according to MarketsandMarkets. The market research firm valued the Smart Home market at $20.38 billion in 2014 and estimated that it will swell to nearly $60 billion by 2020 (Smart Homes Market by Product – Trend and Forecast to 2020). According to the Consumer Electronics Association, new reports are being released nearly daily, and some estimate the IoT market will be measured in trillions by the end of this decade.

What are these billions being spent on? As the first and only B2B digital lead generation and customer retention platform for the homebuilding industry, we have a singular view of this evolution. More than 80 manufacturer brands across 23 product categories use our platform, the majority of which are finding ways to make their core products more connected. In this first post on the topic, we’ll highlight the granddaddy of connectivity – the HVAC market, which is among the most mature segments and is the backbone of the connected home ecosystem.

Honeywell’s Lyric thermostat can automatically adjust based on a smartphone’s location, setting to preferred temperatures while you’re home and turning down when you’re away. Its second Lyric product, which debuted in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, ventures into the home security field. Honeywell hasn't shared specifics regarding pricing, availability or integrations with third-party manufacturers just yet, but plans include a wall-mounted LCD touch-screen control panel that responds to voice commands. The system’s cameras and intruder, motion and smoke detectors monitor all areas of a property and can alert a security service if a problem is detected.

Rheem’s EcoNet, a smart technology system, enables homeowners to link and control their heating, cooling and water heating systems through a Wi-Fi connection and a free app on a smartphone or tablet, or by using a control center mounted at home. With a tap or swipe, homeowners can manage energy usage and monitor the system’s diagnostics and maintenance.

Schneider Electric’s Wiser energy management system, now installed in all new homes built by KB Homes, uses information from a homeowner’s utility bill to make changes to a home’s HVAC and other systems. The system’s smart thermostat also shows current energy output and costs incurred, and displays a color-coded warning screen when energy consumption peaks. Savings in lighting costs also are possible using the company’s occupancy and vacancy sensors, which determine the most appropriate lighting for a home at any given time. 

What’s to come? More options, advanced technology and increased affordability, according to the Air Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration News, which noted in late 2014 that competition and better technology will increase affordability, which will, in turn, open up the market to a wider demographic. The result is skyrocketing sales -- the experts predicted that the $100 million smart thermostat market could reach $1.4 billion by 2020. Now that’s smart.

 

About the author: Glenn Renner is president and COO of HomeSphere, the homebuilding industry's first and only B2B digital lead generation and customer retention platform.

 

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