CES: The Problems With Home Automation
We saw a resurgence of home automation systems at CES. But with no single technology standing out, we have a mishmash of incompatible products.
At CES this year, there was a resurgence among purveyors of home automation systems. Companies like Control-4 and Monster, among others, were showing complete systems for home control. Each manufacturer had the same general selection of keypads, touch-screens, remote-controlled light switches, and plug-in modules. However, each offering was based on one of several incompatible standards, including Universal Powerline Association (UPA), HomePlug, Z-wave, and INSTEON.
And therein lies the problem: With no single technology standing out as being the best in flexibility, performance, reliability and cost, we have a mishmash of incompatible products, which is being blamed for the lack of growth in this category. However, I wonder if this is true. Or could it be that no one is yet offering compelling products at a compelling price?
From what I heard at the show, the retail sector for home automation is continuing flat, while the pro/dealer segment is growing apace. This tells me that some level of home automation is becoming de rigueur in higher-end homes, and that’s great (though, if ordered as a check-off item, one wonders how much of it is actually used). Still, once that relatively small market saturates, where are the products for the rest of us? I’m a home control junkie myself, but don’t know anyone else who is. I’ve met people who mucked with X-10 at some time and gave up, but no one who has heard of any of the new stuff.
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