If you were fortunate to have made it to Las Vegas earlier this year for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), two particular technology trends were practically impossible to miss.
The row of BMW fleet cars parked outside, emblazoned with the “Connected Car” logo, and the full-frontal assault launched by Audi, Nissan and Ford in their respective exhibits, signaled that the era of the Connected-Car was finally here. The Connected-Home was the other major trend, despite having taken a long, circuitous path to get here, After more than a decade of marginalized home-automation exhibits, this was the year that saw huge marketing pushes by major brands like Samsung, Lowe’s, Verizon and AT&T. Many years of “Next Big Thing” status has arguably transitioned into just “Big Thing”. Both areas have seen significant innovation driven by hardware/Internet-Of-Things technology and a slew of innovative new startups based on a combination of killer mobile apps, cloud-based platforms, crowd-based funding and low-cost manufacturing. The two technologies share even more in common – a strong focus on location, always-on wireless connectivity and a promise of unprecedented insight and automation for consumers.
So, with connected-car and connected-home quickly becoming mainstream (in awareness if not adoption just yet), the anticipated next step is the convergence of these technologies. Home meets Car at the intersection of safety, security, social and big data insights.
With this as backdrop, we’re thrilled to announce a new partnership with iControl Networks to develop integrated solutions for home and car. On a basic level, this provides a home owner with a single interface to monitor and manage all aspects of their home – alarm, lights, thermostats, water sensors and video cameras etc – as well as car and driver information as well, from real-time location of all family cars, arrival and departure alerts, and the operating metrics of their cars such as trips, mileage etc. But the real value goes way beyond a nifty user interface. The stream of data collected from the home and the car are compelling individually, and when combined are much more than the sum of the parts. Here are some examples of what this means:
Presence-awareness – Knowing if you’re home or away has always been a core element for home automation logic, allowing you change thermostat settings or lighting as appropriate. Incorporating car location into the mix provides additional depth to these rules. Your teenager’s room has music blaring, but his car seems to be in the next town over? Hmm…. Other examples – emergency alerts can be intelligently directed to those who are closest first, or less important alerts sent to those who aren’t driving to avoid distraction.
Activity patterns – Zubie allows a user to tag places that they frequent, so it can provide more meaningful alerts and become smarter about your daily activity. These places are equally relevant for home automation. For instance, arriving at work is a good indication that you’ll be away for the next 8 hours and lowering the thermostat, versus a short trip to drop your kid off at school.
Home as the ultimate user interface – Many automation systems systems already allow you to flash the home lights in the event of a break-in to get your attention. Imagine that same concept applied in a more subtle way to other meaningful events. Your kitchen lights may fade slowly or glow a different color as your spouse gets closer to home.
Risk & Security – Home Insurance companies already provide discounts for having alarm systems or other sensors. Similarly, in the parallel universe of car-insurance, carriers have been dabbling in Usage-Based-Insurance (UBI) to provide discounts to safer drivers based on actual driving data. Its a natural evolution for major carriers to consider the aggregation of these two data streams collectively as a better indicator of risk across the board. Again, the value is more the the sum of the parts.
Simpler billing – Cable and wireless companies such as Comporium, Time Warner and Verizon and AT&T have already led the way to commercialize home automation with a simple monthly subscription model, inexpensive sensors and controllers, 24/7 monitoring and in some case, a shared wireless data plan. This model allows for cars to be added on as another sensor utilizing in some cases, the same wireless plan. One bill, one service for securing all that you care about.
These are just some of the things we are working on. It’s too early to tell where all this could go in terms of new value to consumers. But there’s already plenty to be excited about….♪ car and home, happy together ♪♪ !
Come see us and learn more at SxSW at the Connected Home Developers Garage!