Internet of Things
While arguably the most advanced Internet of Things industry is in home automation, make no mistake – Things means all Things, and not just home Things. The capabilities of connected devices is positively impacting agriculture, construction, education, finance, health services, manufacturing, natural resources, transportation, utilities, and all areas of research. In home automation, however, the large Do-it-Yourself home improvement and construction retailers already have their own platforms to cover a host of home-based connected devices. These platforms have their strengths, but a significant obstacle is that they do not integrate with each other. The company that cracks the interoperability challenge will be the one which transforms the industry.
Until that time, we as industry professionals leave the consumer wrestling with a platform decision based on the speculative statements and unfounded predictions of the person in the position of selling these systems. The connected product company is in a somewhat precarious position: an enabling technology they have little control over is central to the buying decision.
The good news for the IoT business owner is that the front end consumer experience (i.e. the user app) can be loosely coupled with the platform. By designing and building the user app in the beginning with the right architecture to enable transportability from one platform to the next, you can save the consumer from risking it all on throw-away technology. In the end, you also save the business when requirements mandate shifting to a different platform.
If you’re a consumer, consider the following facts and questions when investing in home automation products and services:
- Supported Devices: Review the list of connected devices offered by your vendor/platform, and choose the platform that has most or all of the devices that you need to connect. This will reduce the complexity of the solution, and maintenance will be easier.
- Extendibility: How easily can you add new devices to your platform? Can it learn new protocols? Does it allow you to add new device types from the same protocol? Even if your platform has the full set of devices that you are currently looking to connect to, it is always important to consider a solution’s flexibility in order to add more devices in the future.
- Configuration and Price: Look for an easily configurable solution. You don’t want to end up learning every protocol in order to set up your home automation solution. Another important aspect is the price; some solutions will force you to buy special components to achieve connectivity, and a complex installation can increase costs. Steer away from solutions that require support contracts for installation.
- System Availability and Stability: If you plan to use your connected devices day or night, then it is important to choose a system that is always available. Want an instant response? Choose a system that is fast and reliable. Big IoT platforms have huge scalability challenges, and it’s up to the consumer to research the solution being offered to understand performance, availability and stability.
The jury is still out on which platform is the right one to bet on, but the time has come to get into the IoT game. With sufficient research (and a little bit of luck), you can find a solution that you will be able to use for years to come.
How does the consumer step into the IoT market without wasting time and money on early adoption starts and stops?
Mitch Landry is the Co-Founder and President of Cecropia Solutions. The Internet of Things practice at Cecropia Solutions has helped big name companies connect their products and devices to the end consumer. Learn more at cecropiasolutions.com.
Photo Credits: http://www.freeimages.com/mark-normand