Home automation was once an obscure technology niche. Reserved for the homes of techies and the ultra-wealthy, automation was often portrayed in movies as a sinister way by which one could exert control. It had its functions, to be sure, but few people truly considered them or knew what they were.
Those days are now long past, as home automation now stands as the next frontier that large media companies seek to tackle. For example, Comcast, through its Xfinity brand, has recently announced automation packages that provide security, remote monitoring, and cloud-based data assessment in addition to the company’s standard television and cable offerings. Competitors such as AT&T are expected to take similar steps shortly.
Home automation allows services in a house to be connected and wirelessly controlled. For example, a family who has automated its home can view security footage while they are away, turn lights off remotely, manage appliance outlets with a single control, and even integrate its media center, alarm system, and thermostat into one console.
The amount of potential integration insures that companies from a wide range of industries – media, security, and energy, among others – are seeking to acquire market share in the field. And this sudden burst of competition has spurred a growing number of hardware innovations.
These new hardware products are numerous. We have seen energy monitoring systems that can hang on your living room wall, thermostats that look like tablets, and remote control devices that provide room-by-room breakdowns of a house. And now Vivint Security, one of the most well-established home automation companies, has now begun installing solar panel rooftop units that can coordinate with the thermostat and with the home’s central management system. Once focused purely on the security business, Vivint estimates that most of its installations this year will include additional features.
It is expected that most homes (over 60%) will have security and energy management systems by 2022. Whether that figure is hit or not, we can certainly expect a good number of software and hardware developments in the interim.