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Smart home wars heating up

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Just as we have seen with the smart phone revolution, the battle for the smart home looks like it will be just as hotly contested, as there is no denying that consumers today are embracing the smart home concept. 

Studies are popping up weekly confirming that demand is increasing for smart home products and services as homeowners learn more about smart home and home automation technology available today.

The latest research, from market research firm Berg Insight out of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows that North America is leading the global smart home market with 12.7 million smart homes in 2015, a 56 percent year-on-year growth. According to the research, the strong market growth is expected to last for years to come, driving the number of smart homes in North America to 46.2 million by 2020, which corresponds to 35 percent of all households.

The study found that the most successful products in the smart home market include smart thermostats, security systems, smart lighting, network cameras, and multi-room audio systems.

“There is no doubt that regular consumers in the future will own and operate a wide range of connected objects in their homes, from connected home appliances and luminaires to thermostats and security devices,” said Johan Svanberg, senior analyst, Berg Insight. “Attractive use cases, interoperable devices, and well-implemented user interfaces are needed in order to accelerate the market.”

Although Amazon Echo’s Alexa is leading the smart home charge right now, Apple is making a serious play with its announcement at its Worldwide Developers Conference last week of its new app called Home, which will be a hub on the iPhone for all the connected devices in the home. The app is the logical next step for Apple’s HomeKit platform, and both work with Siri, who is getting some improvements and upgrades as well.

Apple also announced that it is working with homebuilders—Brookfield Residential, Lennar and KB Home—to build homes later this year that come with built-in Apple HomeKit infrastructure.

Other major players in this battle for the voice-driven smart home include Microsoft with its Cortana voice platform, and Google Home’s Assistant, which was announced in May. Rumors abound that both Microsoft and Google, like Apple, are gearing up for a serious play for a piece of the smart home market. 

Apple’s brand equity with consumers, though, shouldn’t be ignored, as it is not a big leap to think that consumers would be willing to take the plunge into the smart home market with Apple, a company they know will be able to provide a complete, somewhat air-tight system from the ground up, so to speak.

One negative for Apple is its seemingly late entry into the smart home space, where many early adopters are already using many smart home products that will not work with Apple’s HomeKit platform, which requires using a special encryption chip. Some HomeKit-certified products are currently available from companies like Honeywell, August and Phillips Hue, and Apple said that there are close to 100 more compatible products coming this year.

Stay tuned, because things are starting to get interesting in the smart home space.

From Microsoft to Google at Cloud+

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

At the very last session of the Cloud+ conference, Brivo's Jonathan Healey noted that the Cloud+ conference began with a speaker from Microsoft and ended with a speaker from Google. "Five years ago [the idea that you'd have that line-up at a physical security conference] would be preposterous, he said.

He's right, our industry has come a long way in five years. That was a recurring theme at the Cloud+ conference, but we've also got a long way to go.

Speaker after speaker talked about the opportunities—for integrator and end user alike—in cloud-based systems. There are two stories in our newswire today about the conference: one about the keynote speaker, Monica Hopelian of MIcrosoft and one about investment and "the new security dealer," a session presented by John Mack and moderated by yours truly.  Amy's blog this week gives an overview of the sessions.

Look for more stories over the next week.

One of the topics John Mack talked about was M&A activity and investor interest in cloud-based technology. I can tell you there was investor interest at the conference this week. Many attendees were asking me if I could get them audio from the sessions and Powerpoint slides. Two attendees pulled me aside halfway through day two and  said it would be really great if I could get them the slides "within the hour." I told them they would need to wait until I was done emceeing the event.

Clearly some valuable information at Cloud+

One of the most popular sessions at Cloud+ was about cybersecurity in the cloud, presented by Rodney Thayer. Before you get too excited about your "Cloud Bling," you (both the folks who are making the stuff and the folks who are integrating the stuff) better ensure you're following cyber-safe practices, he advised. Is the Internet of Things, really just  the "Internet of Trouble?" he asked. Well, it could be. He reiterated what keynote speaker Monica Hopelian and another speaker Diebold's Jeremy Brecher said: that the physical security group should not be the weakest link in the chain. Thayer talked through some scary potential scenarios, before offering a series of practical guidelines and resources for integrators and manufacturers.

Interested in this topic? (yes you should be) Thayer will be at TechSec 2016. Here's a link to the educational program.  talking about cybersecurity on an educational session led by Kratos' Chris Peckham. Also speaking on that educational session will be Joe Coe of Hikvision. Hikvision, one of the fastest growing security companies in the world, has also suffered a couple of major cyber breaches. Don't miss it!

ADT’s new partnerships ‘push the boundary’

LG, Nest give ADT broader reach

BOCA RATON, Fla.—ADT’s recent partnership with LG Electronics and Google’s Nest is the company’s means to “push the boundary” between residential security and home automation with the goal of extending “protection and security to as many people as we can,” according to ADT chief innovation officer Arthur Orduña.

Industry divided on Google’s effect on security industry

News Poll: Few believe Google will seek professional monitoring

YARMOUTH, Maine—Google, in March of this year, acquired patents relating to residential security. Twelve months earlier, Google acquired the smart home thermostat Nest. Is Google planning a big move into the security space? Should the industry be nervous? Security Systems News readers were evenly divided among those who are worried, those who are not worried, and those who plan to worry about Google if and when it gets seriously involved in the industry.

ADT partners with LG Electronics, Nest


BOCA RATON, Fla.—Rumors that ADT is working with Google’s Nest are not rumors after all. ADT CEO Naren Gursahaney announced today at an investor conference that ADT is partnering with Google’s Nest and with LG Electronics.

Who’s afraid of Google?

Smart resi providers should take Google’s move into home security seriously, but could wind up benefitting from it

YARMOUTH, Maine—Google’s venture into home security and automation may turn out to be a very good thing for traditional resi companies, according to providers interviewed by Security Systems News.

Google’s new patent factors in resi security


MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—Home security is on Google’s agenda, according to its recently acquired patent for “Security Scoring in a Smart-Sensored Home.”

‘20 under 40’ end users work to build security success

Badging, cultural challenges among top issues, they say at TechSec2015

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—It’s difficult to raise risk awareness among employees when everyone thinks everything is going just fine. Achieving security autonomy across different types of businesses that fall under one banner with almost 30,000 employees is difficult, too.

Global home automation market projected to hit $12.81 billion by 2020

U.S. has largest share of the market

DALLAS—The North American home automation market will grow from $2.21 billion in 2013 to $4.29 billion in 2020, a CAGR of 9.17 percent, according to Marketsandmarkets research analyst Sarmistha Biswas.

What is it about Genetec that wins it top-employer awards?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Genetec, a developer of open-platform, hardware and cloud-based services for the physical security and public safety industries, based in Montreal, hosted a Press Summit this week. I was supposed to be there. But no! A snowstorm on Sunday prevented me from making my flight out.

I was disappointed. I was interested in learning and reporting about what Genetec has going on for 2015 in advance of its reveals at ISC West. I also was looking forward to finding out more about the corporate culture of the company, which was founded in 1997.

Corporate culture is worth knowing about. Just ask John Loud of LOUD Security, who spoke about it at Honeywell’s Connect2014 event.

Brian Katz of Google, keynoter at our recent TechSec conference, discussed that progressive company’s culture of security.

Attitudes all add up in making companies more successful.

When I visited Genetec’s HQ last year I was impressed with the atmosphere there, from the popular, low-cost gourmet food in its company cafeteria to its on-site gym. Then there’s the foosball- and X-box-equipped meeting areas. Employees trying to untangle snags in projects are encouraged to work them out over a game or two. (My teenage son has often told me that video games help him think, too, when he’s stuck on a homework project. Now I just might believe him.)

It’s not only about good food and fun and games for Gentec’s 620 employees, though. Those perks, along with generous vacation time and benefits and company-sponsored outings, are designed to promote a work environment that fosters “a strong culture of innovation, which is essential to the growth and future of [the] business,” the company says.

Genetec this year was named one of the top employees in Montreal for the ninth consecutive year by MediaCorp Canada. The contest evaluates employers on criteria that includes physical workspace, work atmosphere and social, health, financial and family benefits, vacation and time off, employee communications, performance management, training and skills development and community involvement.

The award isn’t just about good external public relations, the company told me when I inquired. In addition to prompting more visitors to the Genetec website and boosting job applications and greater, favorable awareness about the company overall, it has made current employees proud to work at the company and, Genetec says, employee retention will grow because of it.

I’ll be writing more about Genetec’s corporate culture, so stay tuned!