I have recently looked through more than 30 smart home providers and realized that there are four groups:
- Mass product providers: Companies like Samsung SmartThings that ofer all kinds of smart devices.
- Niche product providers: Companies focusing on one or two products. Like Philiphs with its HUE light bulbs or Rachio with a wifi-controlled sprinkler.
- Central units: Products like Homee with serve as a bridge between devices from different manufacturers and with different technologies.
- SaaS platforms: Software companies like qivicon offering cloud solutions for the management, integration and combination of smart devices.
- Interface provider: There are two broad distinctions in this sectors: Software solutions like the Magenta SmartHome app and hardware providers like the Senic smart controller or Flic, a smart wireless button.
The idea of smart homes has been around for over 80 years (here you can find a video of a robot made in 1932) and I honestly think the biggest impact originates from Google’s and Amazon’s introduction of their home assistants (Amazon Echo and Google Home). Their established distribution channels are only of their impact. I believe there are three more reasons:
- Immediate gratification: Compared to a window sensor or smart doorbell getting a question answered by Echo or a summary of my day is immediately useful. A smart doorbell which helps me talk to postman is certainly useful but not by the time I install it.
- Natural development: Voice control is letting us do what we already do in a more comfortable way. Instead of a) Get phone b) Unlock it b) Open to-do app c) Add task d) Lock phone e) Put phone away it’s a) Ok, Google / Alexa remember me to buy milk.
- Stand alone functionality: Although it is cool that I can switch off my celeing lights from bed or my desk it is honestly easier to just stand up and switch it off my pressing the switch instead of a) Getting my phone b) Unlocking it b) Opening the Philip’s HUE app c) Switching my lamp off d) Locking my phone e) Putting it away. Although I think that using voice commands for that kind of is neither perfect (it task takes long) I still prefer it to using the app. Adaptable buttons such as Senic smart controller or Flic are by the way a very welcome complementary product for that. Google Home or Amazon Alexa do not need any additional hardware to be convenient.
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