Preparing for tomorrow’s smart home

Analyst house Gartner released some striking research recently, estimating that by 2022 houses in wealthier nations will have on average 500 connected devices, covering areas from utilities to lighting, music to electric shavers. While this figure seems quite remarkable today, the reality that it’s likely to come true, is fascinating and game-changing.

When you look around your home now, you may see four or five connected devices in the form of smart phones, tablets or a connected TV. But it’s not a tremendous leap to see more areas of the home being connected in the not-so-distant future – just look at the wave of connected thermostats in the UK with the launch of tools such as Nest and Hive. Over time the number of devices connecting will quickly stack up and demand more from our existing infrastructure.

While the connected home is still very much in development (being at the very start of the Gartner hype cycle), it’s clear that the evolution toward a truly ‘connected home’ is full of potential for consumers and businesses alike. What much of the industry is currently talking about is how the multitude of connected products, made by different manufacturers, will interact with one another, with various industry bodies being set up to address this (such as Thread Group). But while this is important, what needs to be looked at closely, discussed, and monitored, is whether the connectivity infrastructure of today will be able to cope with the volume of data being produced tomorrow.

Current estimates state that a broadband connection of 6Mbps will be needed in order to support a connected home. This should be in reach with the UK average household broadband speed currently being 14.7Mbps. But with increased demands being placed on bandwidth, we as the industry supporting this need to be looking at how the data produced by this increase in connectivity will be sent, stored and managed? With over 500 devices in a house constantly sending and receiving data over the network there are significant infrastructure questions that need to be analysed, addressed and taken action on.

What should be clear to the companies looking to capitalise on the connected home opportunity is that getting their ‘infrastructure house’ in order now, will be the key to tomorrow’s success. They need a network for their data that is well connected and provides appropriate coverage for the range of their products, services or offerings. They also have to ensure they have technology partners who understand the connected home opportunity and can provide a range of services to enable them alongside other customers. Without getting the connectivity side of the connected home right it doesn’t matter how good the device or the content is, the quality of the experience will always be determined by the connectivity constraints.

The connected home is an exciting prospect and it will be interesting to see some of the use cases manufacturers will come up with. But for it to truly make an impact it is not just the devices that need to be thought about, the supporting infrastructure has to take an equally important position in the development process. Tomorrow’s ‘connected home’ is today’s infrastructure concern – one that needs to be considerately mapped out and worked through in order to put the right steps in place to ensure success.