The smart home lacks transparency

Language assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are also changing the world of smart homes. Previously, it was mainly about energy saving or home security, but more and more a lifestyle-oriented approach is developing. However, it would be too brief that the breakthrough of smart homes in the mass market is foreshadowed with the language assistants.

According to a study by the Federal Ministry of Economics, the attainable market volume for smart homes will rise to 20 billion euros per year by 2025 in Germany. However, the BMWi comes to the conclusion that previously the existing market barriers would have to be eliminated.

The basic problem: Although the technology is available in principle – just not quite as the market demands.

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Unmanageable offer

In practice, there is a vast range of isolated solutions for a wide variety of applications, and the consumer often fails because of the concepts of eHome, smart home and smart living right through to the word IoT. In addition, the focus of manufacturer communication continues to be on technical features as opposed to utility considerations.

Countless providers, who try to make gateways, widgets and application interfaces palatable with a specialized vocabulary, are ultimately scared of those interested in technology. Contributing to this are manufacturer-specific standards such as network protocols.

Thus, most smart home projects remain stuck in a half-baked state when the shutter raises or lowers at programmed times or the room temperature is reduced by announcement. This has little to do with the basic idea of ​​Smart Living and is in no way consistent with the performance that is available.

With the language assistant as user interface alone, this problem can not be solved. He may facilitate communication with the system in appropriate application areas, but is still (first) flawed when it comes to understanding and secondly often not the best choice, for example, to provide the address and credit card information for ordering a pizza , Finally, they lack the ability to realize complex projects and visualize the system configuration.

Creative automation

For the development of individual Smart Living projects with high utility value, neither language assistants nor provider-specific apps offer the necessary prerequisites. They neither provide vendor-independent automation nor the necessary visualization for setting up, controlling and displaying complex tasks that go beyond the light. A promising route to the consumer will in the future lead to future technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Services based on these technologies are already available today. For example, they analyze domestic user behavior and automate a wide variety of everyday processes based on the data obtained.

For example, in the case of a holiday, a realistic day-specific presence simulation can be implemented with the help of in-house electronics. In addition, heating costs are reduced, because the system evaluates weather forecasts, the typical indoor temperature and the thermodynamics of the house and controls the corresponding functions automatically.

Developers of such solutions can choose from a variety of leeway to use creative ideas and forward-looking technologies to deliver services that bring real value to the user, as well as simple command execution, whether through voice assistants or one of many native device apps go out.

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Inspiration and Simplification

In the end, hardware is just the enabler, the means to an end, because the customer demands services and solutions, not technical features. He wants to buy security and no alarm system. And he wants maximum flexibility so as not to be caught in the corset of a single manufacturer.

To get closer to the goal of simplifying daily life through digitization, at least two factors are essential: inspiration and simplification. Inspiration comes from the fact that Smart Living offers focus on benefits and services, rather than functions.

This does not just mean changing the address, but also requires the creation of interfaces that service providers can use to integrate additional services into the system environment.

Simplification means that the consumer is dismissed from the role of the tech savvy layman and can focus on the implementation of his real goals. This requires a multi-vendor solution that can connect all areas of life – from the fitness watch to the vacuum robot control, to comprehensive solutions that link devices to the wider services of market players. That is already possible today.

Also interesting: my fridge is listening to me! 12 safety tips for the smart home

About the author: Andreas Bös is Senior Director at Conrad Connect GmbH, an IoT project platform for Smart Living based in Berlin. He has many years of experience in the IT and electrical industry, in the smart home and IoT sector as well as in innovation management.

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