Rawlson O'Neil King
SSHT and SIBT will be held concurrently with the ISHS and the Shanghai International Lighting Fair The tenth edition of Shanghai Intelligent Building Technology (SIBT) and second edition of Shanghai Smart Home Technology (SSHT) are set to open their doors from 31 August – 2 September 2016 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre in Shanghai. The two fairs will welcome 240 exhibitors from 14 countries and regions. This year, a comprehensive profile of smart home and intelligent building innovations will be displayed across a record 16,000 sqm of exhibition space, up 23% from last year. Ms Lucia Wong, Deputy General Manager of Messe Frankfurt (Shanghai) Co Ltd, expressed: "SSHT and SIBT highlight the integration of different management technologies for intelligent buildings, building controls and smart homes. As these technologies evolve, data communication between smart home controls, applications and external information sources will enhance living environments for end-users. In the Internet Plus era, SSHT and SIBT firmly advocate smart living and strive to showcase the entire ecosystem of intelligent building products and connected solutions. The two shows will not only offer participants the opportunities to discuss the development and convergence of various smart technologies, but they will also promote vertical and horizontal collaboration.” Industry elites forecast future smart home trends This year, SIBT will celebrate 10 years of helping pioneers to bring cutting-edge building technologies to diverse groups of professionals from around the world. The show will exhibit a comprehensive array of intelligent building systems including building energy saving, energy management, intelligent hotel and building automation control systems. The concept of smart living is gaining in popularity and innovators are bringing many new creations to market. In an effort to explore what the future of the smart home sector will look like, SSHT has invited industry elites from influential associations and leading enterprises to share their thoughts. Here is what a few experts have shared: Mr Steven Zhou, Secretary General, China Smart Home Industry Alliance “We believe that a complete transformation will take place in the industry. Electrical engineering and home appliance enterprises are becoming smart. In the future, connected technologies will be found in every device and more end-users will incorporate smart home technologies into their daily lives.” "We believe that in the near future that smart home appliances, home safety and security solutions, health management and entertainment technologies will be applied more extensively" Mr Rawlson O’Neil King, Communications Director, Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) “Digitally advanced homes have developed into communication-rich living spaces. This progression has enabled a host of smart experiences for consumers including energy management, interactive home devices, connected appliances and real-time security solutions. However, the industry has acknowledged that such convenience is associated with risk.” Mr Zhang Jun, Chinese Ambassador, AllSeen Alliance “We believe that in the near future that smart home appliances, home safety and security solutions, health management and entertainment technologies will be applied more extensively. In fact, these areas have already been changing our daily lives gradually.” Ms Lori Lee, Senior Marketing Manager, APAC, Bluetooth SIG, Inc “Currently, smart lighting is still the major market since application development in this sector is more mature than other smart home applications. In the future, by promoting standardization, smart lighting systems will become even more popular and I believe this market will face promising growth.” Mr C.K. Sze, Z-Wave Evangelist, Z-Wave Alliance “I believe commercial applications such as automation in hotels and offices will lead market demand. There are many supporting trends that present numerous opportunities such as a growing number of senior citizens living alone who can benefit from the assistance of smart home technologies. Also, there has been increased awareness and demand for energy-saving solutions, Internet technologies and smart devices. Wireless communication technologies have also become more advanced and affordable while the Chinese government has been aggressively promoting the development of smart cities and Internet Plus technologies.” Dr Wilma Su, Chair, ZigBee Member Group China “Opportunities for the smart home market are about ‘connection’ and ‘systems’. In other words, single or multiple devices alone cannot create a home. People-oriented controls like mobiles or panels cannot be referred to as smart. The smart home should be able to incorporate every single device from home appliances and safety and security systems to light bulbs to curtains. ‘Connection’ and ‘systems’ are fundamental concepts for the smart home which is created by holistic people-oriented solutions.” Being a comprehensive platform for smart home technologies, SSHT will once again gather leading brands to showcase a diversified range of smart home technologies. Some of the show’s exhibitors talked about their industry outlook: Smart home systems Mr Niu Xiaofeng, Media Operation Manager, Peng Intelligence System Engineering Co Ltd “’Service’ is the word I will use to describe the development trend for the smart home industry. In the future, the market will evolve from simply selling devices to offering services. The ‘open platform’ is another important element in smart home products. Whether a company can stand out from the crowd depends on the openness of its products – an ability to connect to more platforms and be compatible with other branded applications.” "The concept of being ‘hassle-free' is going to be a trend for smart home technology" Mr Wang Xiaodong, Technical Director, Honyar “As a regular tool for operation, control panels are relatively more frequently used than other newly developed control technologies. They are also easier to adapt to for traditional users. Therefore, there is still a great potential within this sector.” Cloud platform and IoT solutions Ms Sharon Feng, Brand Director, Lifesmart “The concept of being ‘hassle-free’ is going to be a trend for smart home technology. Users prefer more natural, convenient living conditions that do not require the added burden of learning how to use any complicated products. ‘User-friendliness’ and ‘stability’ are the two key points that smart home enterprises should be aware of when creating convenient solutions that for users experience that will help strengthen companies’ brands and market competitiveness.” Audio visual integration and home entertainment Ms Chen Jie, Promotion Assistant, Cinemaster Shanghai Ltd“The scope of the smart home is vast. From IoT technologies to smart energy, there are always business opportunities. It takes time for the complete smart home to be realized and popularized, but the competition in various sectors such as audio and visual, safety and security, and lighting will be fierce.” Regarding future industry development, Ms Wong added: “The future smart home is the combination and integration of smart hardware, software and cloud services, and the perfect ‘smart life’ is just around the corner.” SSHT and SIBT will be held concurrently with the Shanghai International Trade Fair for Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (ISHS), and the Shanghai International Lighting Fair (SILF). Collectively, the fairs form the “Intelligent Green Building – IGB” exhibition platform that will host more than 460 exhibitors in 40,000 sqm of exhibition space. Approximately 51,000 visitors from the intelligent building, smart home, HVAC and lighting industries are expected to attend. SSHT and SIBT are both headed by the biennial Light + Building event which will take place from 18 – 23 March 2018 in Frankfurt, Germany. Messe Frankfurt also organizes a series of light and building technology exhibitions in China including the Guangzhou International Lighting Exhibition and Guangzhou Electrical Building Technology. The company's light and building technology fairs also extend to markets in Argentina, India, Russia, the UAE and other countries and regions.
Small-timers with big ideas can always make their way into the industry In recent years, home automation technology has given birth to the “Smart Home” in which internet-enabled and controlled devices are bringing a new level of comfort to the standard house. From locking doors to setting the temperature to opening the blinds for a view of the sunset, technology is transforming the home into something reminiscent of the now-quaint 1960s sci-fi cartoon, The Jetsons. Of course, we’re still waiting for our jet packs and flying cars, but the house itself is doing far more of the work than anyone thought possible just a few years ago. Future of the home automation sector? “We have seen a lot of consolidation over the last five to seven years, and a lot of it was because of the economy,” says Dave Pedigo, Senior Director of Learning & Emerging Technologies at the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. “As much as you see the potential for consolidation, I also see a lot of potential for startup companies that have the ability to make products and are innovative, serve a purpose and can change the industry.” In an era of 3D printing, rapid prototyping and small companies powered by social media and crowd funding, small-timers with big ideas can always make their way into the industry, he adds. “It’s put us into what I think is the next industrial revolution,” says Pedigo. “While a lot of this is going to very large companies, at the same time I wouldn’t discount small or startup companies that offer goods that are unique and useful.” 4K: Opportunities and challenges "It’s put us into what I think is the next industrial revolution. While a lot of this is going to very large companies, at the same time I wouldn’t discount small or startup companies that offer goods that are unique and useful", says Dave Pedigo of CEDIA “Right now it seems like 4K video distribution will be the next big trend,” says Brad Hintze, Director of Product Marketing for Control4. “4K is the next step in high-resolution video and in our opinion it will not be like 3D. 4K will have staying power. It is for this reason that we came to market with our own suite of 4K video distribution equipment for the Control4 Smart Home.” He believes content is the main driver, both in adoption and hardware design. Network providers like Comcast and Dish Network, all have their own roll-out plans for 4K channels and content, which will eventually bleed into consumer adoption. “But from a hardware and automation perspective, it presents challenges because the industry standards for image display and copy protection are evolving rapidly,” explains Hintze. “Control4 recently released our fully HDCP 2.2 compliant 4K A/V Matrix switch products, which eliminates the black screen produced by playing copy-protected content from studios on non-compliant equipment. Being able to adapt to this wave is what will keep us ahead of the curve!” Intelligent sensors for smart home Industry experts predict that sensors in the home will reach a level of sophistication never considered in early versions of Smart Home. These devices will know when the house is empty and be able to shut off heating and cooling systems. Smart phone with geolocation will then tell it when the owner is on her way back so it can start adjusting the temperature to a comfortable level. “There will be an app on a phone that shows that you’re going to be home in a few minutes,” says Rawlson O’Neil King, Communications Director of the Continental Automated Buildings Association. “Then the house unlocks when you are at the door. The garage opens after detecting you’re close to the house. You have lights that turn on and off at certain times by detecting your presence.” Industry experts predict that sensors in the home will reach a level of sophistication never considered in early versions of Smart Home. These sensors will also end once and for all the question of “did I lock the door?” or “did I turn off the stove?” And, it won’t just be lights that turn on and off. Sensors in washing machines will know that clothes have been put inside and will start the cycle at a time when costs are at a lower level, he adds. These sensors will also end once and for all the question of “did I lock the door?” or “did I turn off the stove?” Home automation – a double edged sword With the move towards home automation, the coming years will see a greater emphasis on security as more and more devices become accessible – and hackable – on the web. As a security expert at the Federal Aviation Administration prior to joining Vivint as Chief Security Officer, Joe Albaugh saw attacks against critical infrastructure and industry. “The underlying theme was they are computer connected, the data is online and accessible and many of the attacks and threats are exactly the same,” he notes.
As the home automation industry has expanded with an ever growing number of devices and services, companies are placing bets on which wireless protocols will dominate. The past few years the leaders have been Z-Wave and ZigBee. Companies are also using a variety of other standards including Crestron’s Infinet, Insteon, and proprietary technologies such as Lutron’s ClearConnect. Next-generation protocols: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi “Right now companies are releasing really interesting and cool products, but they typically operate within a proprietary ecosystem”, says Rawlson O’Neil King, Communications Director of the CABA A few players have also started looking at Bluetooth and Wi-Fi now that low-power variations of these standards are being developed. Some companies have sought to hedge their bets out of a desire to be more ‘manufacturer agnostic.’ “We maintain interoperability with devices that use all of the major forms of control protocol,” says Brad Hintze, Director of Product Marketing for Control4. These include: Wired IP, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave (through third party converter), Bluetooth, Infrared, RS232 (serial) among others. “Being able to work with all of these protocols and their various associated devices, has given us the benefit of widespread adoption amongst over 180,000 homes globally,” he explains. “In addition this is what also maintains the ‘scalability’ of our system, meaning you can get started with a couple of devices in one-room like your entertainment room (using infrared control), but then adapt to future needs with other devices working on newer, more versatile control protocols like Wi-Fi and Zigbee.” “You can get started with a couple of devices in one-room like your entertainment room (using infrared control), but then adapt to future needs with other devices working on newer, more versatile control protocols like Wi-Fi and Zigbee”, says Brad Hintze, Director of Product Marketing for Control4 ZigBee and Z-Wave The popular ZigBee and Z-Wave short-range wireless technologies have proven ideal for the kinds of home-area networks that are becoming prevalent. Based on the IEEE’s 802.15.4 personal-area network radio standard, ZigBee is an open wireless standard. Z-Wave was developed by Zensys (later acquired by Sigma Designs) as a proprietary wireless standard. It’s estimated that more than 500 consumer home control products are sold at Home Depot and Lowes. Rob Puric, Director of Product Management for Honeywell’s Connected Home solution, says “We chose Z-Wave because of the number of manufacturers that were developing products that were based on this protocol. Because it is a mesh network, the more devices that are added in the home the better the connectivity.” Z-Wave’s wireless mesh networking technology allows nodes to communicate with each other directly or indirectly through available relays if they’re within range. Out of range nodes can link with each other to access and exchange information. A Z-Wave network can have up to 232 nodes. At present the industry is locked in a struggle to determine which standards and protocols will become the dominate choice for companies with offerings in the home automation space Promoting interoperability “We’re at the early days of the deployment of these technologies and their popularity,” explains Rawlson O’Neil King, Communications Director of the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA). “So right now there are a number of different vendors who are emerging and obviously the vendors want you be locked into their particular product ecosystem.” Associations such as CABA are pushing for interoperability so that all devices can work together. “Right now companies are releasing really interesting and cool products, but they typically operate within a proprietary ecosystem,” explains King. “That causes an issue when the goal of a lot of consumers is to have one single app on their phone that allows them to control all of their appliances or their lighting or their heating or their air condition.” Discovering dominant network At present the industry is locked in a struggle to determine which standards and protocols will become the dominate choice for companies with offerings in the home automation space. “Consumers want products that work,” says King. “The reality is a lot of the companies, their technical staff and management are embracing a particular technology in almost an ideological way. The dominate standards and protocols will ultimately have be addressable by most devices on some level.”
Not too long ago the idea of home automation was strictly the province of the rich and famous. With costs that soared as high as $100,000 or more, controlling HVAC, lighting, doors and security from a single source just wasn’t in the budget for Main Street America. That was then, but now is an entirely different story. The “connected home” in which smart phones and tablets serve as controllers for Internet-enabled devices has gone mainstream. Installers are still fashioning high end systems, but these days large companies such as Apple, Google, Comcast, and AT&T have joined security giants like Honeywell and ADT in selling solutions that just about anyone can afford. The numbers point to an expanding market. At end of 2016, there will be 44 million smart home service households globally – up from just 9 million at the end of 2014. These services are expected to produce revenues of about $5 billion annually, according to Rawlson O'Neil King, Communications Director of the Continental Automated Buildings Association. Reductions in cost are putting home automation within the reach of a greater number of people. Custom systems can now be had for $50,000 or less. While that’s still a lot of cash, it can more easily folded into the cost of a mortgage or a home construction loan. Home automators have also borrowed a page from the security industry by offering hardware as a loss leader in order to gain recurring revenue from monthly service fees. “This new enhanced offering is adding more value to the consumer, therefore they are likely to be more inclined to take on a system,” explains King. “They’re also more likely to continue paying for that system over time than if it’s simply a burglar alarm, which is getting more and more commoditised every day.” Home automation got its biggest boost with the unveiling of the iPhone Cable companies and telecoms have also started adding home automation to their other product offerings. They began with security monitoring and more recently they have sweetened the mix with home automation. “The services providers in this space are overwhelmingly alarm monitoring security companies focused on the residential segment of the market,” says Alper Cetingok, Managing Director and Head of Security, Defense & Government Services with Raymond James. These companies have achieved market penetration rates of around 20 percent of U.S. households for quite some time. With such a large market, these companies have a perfect opportunity to expand their offerings and increase their value to existing customers, according to Cetingok. “If you listen to some prognosticators in the market, they suggest that the introduction of smart home has the potential to increase market penetration rates to roughly 40 percent – a doubling of the addressable market,” he adds. Home automation as a product and service is nothing new. The Continental Automated Buildings Association has been around for more than 25 years promoting home automation. “The primary difference now is the fact that technology is more pervasive,” says King. “It’s more pervasive because of the rapid expansion of broadband internet access – especially in large urban areas. Then home automation got perhaps its biggest boost with the unveiling and of the iPhone – followed by its many imitators. These pocket sized computer could do more than just make calls and receive email. They also enabled app-based technologies that effectively put a device controller in everyone’s hand. That has been the key to democratising home automation and creating the Smart Home for almost everyone.