The viral widespread of mobile devices like smart-phones and tablets carried out a disruptive revolution in global markets transforming high technology devices into user-friendly commodities. Smart-phones integrate tons of advanced features such as navsat, audio/video player, and also tap-and-pay mobile payments systems that are pioneering huge potential markets in both advanced ecnomies and emerging ones (just think about Square in the US).
There is an infinite business and technology potential in home automation industry. Here grow revolutionary products and concepts deeply connected with the Internet of Things philosophy with the ambitious target of creating networks of smart objects and appliances gathering empirical data and providing unprecedented centralized control features with huge benefits in terms of energy saving/optimization, safety and security, comfort.
Our next smart phone will allow us to manage our home’s HVAC system, security and access control devices, garden irrigation and household appliances, energy consumption levels and perhaps schedule our pet-feeding duties.
In the US market bog telcos are investing a discrete amount of resources in home automation services and solutions: AT&T, Verizon/ComCast, ADT offer integrated services with a quite wide range of features: from access control, to hydraulic devices monitoring, or home entertainment through cable or streaming services, requiring to sign long lasting contracts in integrated packages.
Meanwhile traditionally established global companies like Honeywell are facing the soft revolution carried out by aggressive start-ups providing smart services like Nest: a user-friendly smart thermostat with a cloud-based technology that provides energy saving, comfort and environment management features with high quality standards and competitive costs. Or ThinkEco: similar services and products widely accessible by retail customers with aggressive partnership agreements signed with major HVAC producers and installers in the US market.
It’s also interesting how big public companies are also developing innovative solutions in traditional segments like lighting devices for example. Philips launched HUE: smart light bulbs connected to a wi-fi bridge and remotely managed through an intuitive smart phone app. HUE is not only a 15-year lasting hi-tech LED light bulb, but provides unprecedented energy saving/management and lighting design features (infinite colour palette, personalized settings, comfort and energy saving pre-installed models).
Therefore, in my opinion, the best potential relies in those start-ups, mostly US-based (California), that are developing integration and centralized management systems. If I were an angel investor looking for emerging start-ups to invest in, I’d certainly bet on these ones. Revolv is a good one: based in Colorado it provides a simple, easy-to-install centralized hub that integrates a potentially infinite amount of home devices and appliances. You’ll be able to set up a home network of many devices produced by different manufacturers with a quick set-up and then manage everything from a single gateway. You’ll connect you Philips lighting system, your Whirlpool refrigerator, your Schalge door-locks and even your Samsung smart-TV in a unique network and manage eeverything with a single app on your smart phone. You won’t need to sign up expensive long lasting contracts or deal with rigidities or get stuck with compatibility troubles.
Development potential is theoretically infinite. Important news in this direction come from top player in mobile devices market like Samsung or HTC that, according to SlashGear, are flirting with the ZingBee (a green, low-consumption wireless technology) for their next smart phone or tablet.
The soft revolution has just started and will be more disruptive than the smart phone widespread.
Are you ready?