Innovation in the connected home environment is flourishing, leading to more intelligent and integrated connected home platforms. Based on the 2014 Gartner consumer survey, 16% of U.S. online households (equivalent to 20 million households) own a connected home device. An additional 4% of survey participants reported owning at least two or more devices.
Our three Cool Vendors in the Connected Home illustrate a cross section of innovation in the area of the connected home platforms. Their offerings include devices, apps and services as well as infrastructure components.
This research does not constitute an exhaustive list of vendors in any given technology area, but rather is designed to highlight interesting, new and innovative vendors, products and services. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
digitalSTROM (Zurich, Switzerland; www.digitalstrom.com)
digitalSTROM equips all electrical devices in the home with intelligent terminal blocks that communicate via power lines and can run small programs using an integrated high-voltage chip. Devices are linked to each other and can be controlled by light switches, smartphones and tablets. In addition to the lighting, sound system and/or heating controls found with other connected home systems, enables all electrical appliances to switch on and work in combination with each other.
For example, each appliance can set off its own alarm and alert other devices and the owner. When a smoke detector sets off a fire alarm, the lights will turn on automatically, emergency exits will be cleared (e.g., window shutters or blinds raised) and an alarm will sound through the home audio system.
digitalSTROM Connector Block
To date, efforts to market connected home systems have been characterized mainly by large enterprises trying to sell “smart” consumer devices. However, our “Maverick* Research: Makers and Startups Are the Ones Shaping the Internet of Things” found that the real drivers of the IoT are startup companies such as digitalSTROM.
Oort (San Francisco, CA, U.S.; www.oort.in)
Oort offers an intelligent connected home gateway for controlling appliances in the home, which the user can control via the app on iOS or Android. The SmartHub connects with devices and sensors through Bluetooth Smart and any Bluetooth-enabled device that makes use of the standard Generic Attribute Profile (GATT) that could be part of the ecosystem automatically. All the data is sent to the cloud, providing users constant access to it via a Web browser. The app allows the user to control and manage home appliances when they are not at home. The beacons can be used to create geo-fencing and allow alerts to be set up; for example, for child safety reasons.
Oort stood out as a Cool Vendor for several reasons:
- Ease of use and interoperability. The SmartHub automatically detects compatible Bluetooth devices within a range of 30 meters. The Oort cloud platform can be used for deciding which devices and sensors. Consumers are able to define actions between their devices; thus, the lights will go on when you leave the house and the coffee machine will start when you wake up.
- Minimalistic industrial design. Oort’s range of beacons, strips and smart LED light bulbs that all carry the same distinct design.
- The hub will become more intelligent, making predictions on future actions by the user. As an example, it will intelligently recognize when you are waking up (through a smart band) and automatically activate the coffee machine.
Wink (Manhattan, New York; www.wink.com)
Wink has created a growing ecosystem through strategic partnerships that enable homeowners to build their own connected home. Wink has developed, through partnerships, a do-it-yourself home monitoring and control system. The system, which is controlled through the Wink app on a smartphone, enables the homeowner to control almost all aspects of the home.
The Wink Hub communicates with devices that do not to speak the same wireless language by translating the different communication protocols — including Bluetooth, Z-Wave and ZigBee. Thus, Wink is developing an open-source network that will be critical for success in the consumer market. The ecosystem is impressive with 19 partners and hundreds of products currently compatible with Wink, and there are surely more partners to come.
Your home will be connected, someday. Sooner rather than later if you are an early adopter of new technologies. In either case, keep in mind that feature richness is only one part of connected home platforms, devices, apps and service. Equally important are their design and ease of self-installation.
The full Cool Vendors in the Connected Home, 2015 report is available on Gartner.com.
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