Look, Ma! No Wires!
You thought the home was wireless today? Think again. Current shipments of home automation systems are expected to total about 1.8 million worldwide this year. But according to ABI Research, that number is set to rise sharply soon, exceeding 12 million in 2016.
This robust growth is the result of standards-based, “no new wire” wireless and powerline technologies such as ZigBee that drive down system costs and expand the addressable market.
The market is also seeing considerable innovation. One example is Google’s recently-launched Android@Home Framework. Android@Home is essentially a middleware layer sitting on top of the newest Android OS. The Framework provides APIs to enable devices, such as light switches and consumer appliances, to be discovered and connected to a central home automation application, and controlled via smartphone. A key aspect of the announcement is a new low-power wireless communications protocol to support device connectivity in cases where Wi-Fi is not available or practical.
Much has been made in the press of Android@Home’s potential as a ZigBee Killer. But, says practice director Sam Lucero, “Talk of Android@Home as a ZigBee Killer (or Z-Wave Killer, etc.) largely misses the point of the announcement. The wireless protocol announced along with the Framework seems positioned almost as an afterthought. ABI Research believes the Framework is more directly targeted as competition for the software now being provided by vendors such as Control4, Motorola Mobility (via its 4Home acquisition), iControl, and others.”
However, Lucero notes, these incumbent vendors themselves are engaged in consolidation and partnership development, meaning that Google is now up against the likes of AT&T (Xanboo), Motorola (4Home), iControl (original iControl + uControl), Control4 (Cisco), and Honeywell, rather than the set of small start-ups it would have faced three or four years ago.
ABI Research’s Home Automation and Monitoring study analyzes the market for home automation and home security technologies and shows how these two markets are increasingly intersecting with the advent of home monitoring and managed home automation. Also central is an examination of trends in the use of cellular wireless technologies. Market forecasts are provided through 2016.
ABI Research’s Home Automation and Monitoring study
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