The Connectivity Problem in Smart Homes and Ways to Solve It

Innovative smart home connectivity solutions aim to create a smooth, connected environment with unified control for users.

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The-Connectivity-Problem-in-Smart-Homes-and-Ways-to-Solve-It

According to Statista, the amount of connected products will triple from 2018 to 2025 and reach a massive 75 billion devices installed worldwide. Some of the best solutions in IoT will come to life in smart homes.

Thanks to the growing adoption around the globe, transparent benefits for consumers and communities along with evolving business models, the market of home automation is boosting and has already moved from luxury only to middle-class sector. However, there’s still a problem of connectivity that creates a barrier between consumers and their connected devices, machines between each other, producers and their revenues.

3 Common Connectivity Problems in Smart Homes

1. Interoperability

Commonly, appliances with any sort of intelligence and data collection originate from various vendors, rely on different connectivity standards and have different network interfaces. Yet, the concept of a smart home supposes every device and sensor can work together and this widely fragmented environment can consolidate into a unified system.

2. Multiple Controls

Another problem that arises in a smart space that combines isolated household devices is multiple control spots, be it smartphone apps of display panels. Manifold touch points complicate control among various IoT systems, even though one of the keys to efficient user experience with IoT products is creating a smooth, one-space experience across all the elements in a connected environment.

3. Connecting to Consumers  

Today, the market is flooded with emerging smart devices, individual and families of products. Moreover, connected products constantly evolve and transform year by year. However, when it comes to home appliances, smart or not, consumers are prone to choose easy-to-use, reliable and, most importantly, durable devices that don’t require significant learning and changing habits.

Familiar with these problems, industry leaders put in serious effort to solve the challenge of connectivity and have created various strategies to build truly connected smart home products.

Solving the Connectivity Problem

Unified Controllers

When it comes to connecting diverse appliances, the first thing that comes to mind is creating a standalone tool instead of multiple co-existing channels to control each device.

If there’s a “one tool to rule them all,” it should be the ALYT hub that enables control over multipurpose smart home devices, starting from Philips Hue Bulbs, all sort of D-Link sensors and cameras and a myriad other IoT products for lighting, power consumption, digital tools for wellness, security and home automation.

As an open platform, ALYT works with various IoT-friendly connectivity standards, including WiFi, ZigBee, Z-wave and Bluetooth, and enables easy-to-use device management regardless of the protocol used. Here’s how you add and control Philips Hue bulb in 2 taps, for example.

Designing diverse appliances that are able to connect to popular control solutions, like voice assistants, is another approach to successfully tackle the problem of connectivity. Instead of connecting devices with each other, this strategy allows us to consolidate objects into the system you have been using for a while.

For example, Quby’s Toon energy consumption solution is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Athom’s Homey allows you to control heating, lighting, smoke detectors and smart plugs using the worlds most popular voice assistant.

The whole family of products by iDevices don’t stop with Alexa and allow integration with the top three hubs: Apple Homekit, Amazon Echo and the Google Assistant.

British Lightwave smart home tools can both be controlled using Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant and enable IFTTT ‘if this, then that’ connections to create personalized “recipes” for managing various devices.

Smooth Power Supply

One-stop controllers allow us to interconnect objects and provide consumers with a smooth user experience in a smart home space. Reliable power supply tools, in turn, enable failure-free operations in the smart home infrastructure and ensure all connected devices in the system continuously transmit real-time data for successful operation.

One of such tools is Ossia’s Cota that won CES 2018 Innovation Award, promising IoT devices revolutionary wireless connection. It’s like giving out power using WiFi, but even better. Hatem Zein, the company’s CTO, explains how Cota provides power across the smart home environment:

“Ossia’s technology, Cota, solves the problem of getting power at a distance fundamentally. One Cota transmitter can supply many devices. This is a key differentiator as Cota offers meaningful power to multiple devices containing sensors across the room. At home, or in an office, you can have tens or hundreds of IoT devices and/or sensors and Cota Transmitter can empower them at several meters.”

On top of that, Ossia introduced an innovative approach to solving the connectivity problem:

“Today’s electronics at home are not all connected. If they are, they are connected by different, sometimes incompatible systems. They include home security and fire alarm systems, door bells, electronic door locks, electric panel switches, etc.

Ossia’s Cota Wireless Power technology would be able not only to power these devices, but due to Cota’s built-in communication channels, unify the connectivity of the devices whether they were connected originally or not, converting them all to IoT devices. Suddenly, the whole house is controllable, configurable and customizable.

Ossia is working to make this happen without even changing the devices themselves, but by simply adding the Cota Forever Battery. The devices begin to communicate what they’re doing and enable the ability to remotely turn the device on or off.

Moreover, Cota can connect every powered device to the Internet, bringing a whole new level of connectivity to all powered devices. The goal for this solution is to control, monitor and maintain, not to take over the WiFi that has higher bandwidth and different use cases. Instead, Cota and WiFi are designed to operate at the same time in the same spaces.”

Complete Smart Home Kits

Probably the simplest yet most thorough approach to solving the problem of connectivity is to build a whole range of products for a certain purpose. This strategy helps avoid the issues with different connectivity standards, multiple control points and interoperability in one shot.

Take two families of home security products as an example. Both August and Ring equip smart homes with a complete kit of security tools – cameras, locks, in-house sensors and apps for remote control. Thus, these solutions cover all the bases and don’t leave any loopholes for the problem in the first place.

SmartBee controllers for home gardens take a similar approach. The kit contains environmental and irrigation systems as well as a control app to make a home growing space smart.

Sensative uses an entirely different strategy. The rapidly-growing tech startup from Sweden offers solutions that unleash the power of open IoT. The company produces multipurpose sensor stripes that can be attached to different surfaces and turn everyday things such as a window or a door into a connected object. Here’s how Sensative solves the problem of connectivity:

“Sensative develops practical IoT products and platforms for everyday use and Strips by Sensative is our first line of products. It is a wireless magnetic sensor that mounts invisibly on windows and doors that comes with a battery life of up to 10 years! Our second business solution is called Yggio: an open connectivity platform for managing properties that unites the IoT devices with service providers.

Whether it is a developer creating new IoT services powered by Yggio, integrators connecting us to a smart wireless network or a consumer using Strips to ensure his back door is closed, Sensative solutions are all about ensuring more and more people enjoy rapid, simple and efficient interactions every day.”

TP-Link is another manufacturer of connected products for multiple purposes. Here’s the company’s vision on the connectivity problem and how TP-Link solves it, according to Damir Skripic, VP of Product Management:

“Smart, connected products are transforming our homes today. But a truly interconnected smart home, where devices and appliances can talk to each other, may still be a few years away.

There are stand-alone devices using smart home technologies that provide added value to homeowners, but the true smart home will require a unified user experience and continual expansion of the product ecosystem, services and partnerships, not just one-off products.

At Kasa Smart by TP-Link, we are well positioned to become an integral part of the smart home providing the widest ecosystem of products spanning smart plugs, light switches, bulbs, security cameras, and more. Other companies may focus on a single market while we provide a unified user experience across multiple IoT products while bringing additional value through Kasa Care services and partnerships with leading voice assistant products like Amazon Alexa and Google Home.”

Conclusion

As you can see, every approach to solving the problem of connectivity in a smart home space is unique. However, the common goal remains the same – creating a smooth connected environment with unified control, operational excellence and a seamless user experience for every consumer.