Subscribe to RSS - smart home

smart home

Outsmarting the smart home

 - 
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Talked about heavily at ISC West in April, cybersecurity is the buzzword in the industry right now, as manufacturers and dealers on the residential side try to figure out how to navigate through the potential minefield of new smart home products and devices that may leave their security systems vulnerable to hacking.

In a study unveiled this week, Cybersecurity researchers at the University of Michigan were able to hack into a leading "smart home" platform and essentially get the PIN code to a home's front door.

Their "lock-pick malware app" was one of four attacks that the cybersecurity researchers leveled at an experimental set-up of Samsung's SmartThings platform, and is believed to be the first platform-wide study of a connected home system. The researchers weren’t picking on Samsung, as the overall goal of the research was to show how vulnerable these new connected home devices and systems are to hacking.

The researchers found “significant design vulnerabilities from a security perspective," noting that hackers’ attacks can “expose a household to significant harm—break-ins, theft, misinformation and vandalism. The attack vectors are not specific to a particular device and are broadly applicable."

The findings will be presented on May 24 at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in San Jose, in a paper titled "Security Analysis of Emerging Smart Home Applications."

At the very least, this study—as well as numerous stories of hackers finding their way into connected home devices, from smart TVs to baby monitors—raises important questions that manufacturers and dealers must ask themselves in this new world of advanced technology and interactivity.

As Samsung works out the kinks in its system, many other smart home companies can benefit from this study, as it sounds an alarm—no pun intended—of the importance of cybersecurity. While no system is completely immune from hacking, the research also underscores the fact that smart home companies and dealers need to make sure they are adhering to, at a minimum, the industry’s best practices and guidelines.

One resource is UL’s new Cybersecurity Assurance Program, a standard by which companies can have their products tested and verified by UL for guard against well-known cyber risks.

Having your products and systems third-party tested is a good first step in addressing any security flaws that may be present, as well as any potential fixes, and provides a measure of comfort for customers who are making their first forays into this bold new world of connected home technology.

 
 

Finding security in smart home products

 - 
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

With the “smart home” taking over talk on the residential side of security, it is no surprise that research and studies continue to pop up in an effort to quantify and qualify what is going on in this growing connected-home market.

Results of a study conducted in March by August Home and Xfinity Home give some further insight into the relationship between home security and connected home devices.

When asked why they would consider adopting smart home technology, the study found that 63 percent of consumers said security or “keeping their family safe” is their top motivation.

In addition, in a Parks Associates’ survey of homeowners with broadband connections, those with a security system were more likely to say they intend to buy a smart home device in the next 12 months.  

So at a time when dealers are trying to emphasize the importance of security first in this new smart home world, it looks like consumers are heeding their message.

In terms of how many plan to add smart home technology, the August Home and Xfinity Home survey found that 18 percent of respondents said they’d likely buy a new smart home product over the next 12 months, including 56 percent of those who have already installed at least one connected device in their home.

What smart home devices are they planning on buying? Video is at the top of the list with 4 in 10 consumers (40 percent) saying a connected camera would be the product they’d most likely add to their home, followed by a video doorbell (26 percent), connected light bulb (19 percent) and smart lock (13 percent).

When asked which device they’d most like as part of a smart home-powered security system, over 63 percent of respondents chose a connected video camera inside or outside the home, while 61 percent of those with a smart home said that a video camera was the device they’d most like to access and control from their smartphone.

This is all good news for the residential security industry, and for dealers who are taking the time to reconnect with their customers who continue to find security in this emerging world of connected products.

 

Hey Siri ...

 - 
Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The other night while activating my new phone, my son overheard me setting up the voice-recognition feature, dutifully repeating the set-up phrase, “Hey Siri,” which prompted sarcastic questions from him like, “Hey Dad, are you sure you know how to do that?” and “You want me to help you set that up?”

And while his ribbing was good-natured, he got me thinking about how his post-Millennial generation is growing up in a world where automation and voice activation—in all aspects of life—are expected and even sought out. And not just for asking where the closest vegan restaurant is or the best recipe for lasagna.

In fact, findings from a recent Home Automation Report from the Connected Intelligence Division of the NPD Group, a market research company, found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of smart home product owners used a smartphone to control or monitor their home automation devices. Additionally, 73 percent of smart homeowners already use voice commands, with 61 percent of those consumers expressing an interest in wanting to use voice to control more products in their homes.

With the rise of home automation products and services on the residential side, combined with the ever-increasing need for homeowners to have complete control over their systems, dealers and installers find themselves scrambling to keep up with the current pace of technology.

In my discussions with security dealers leading up to ISC West in Las Vegas next week, voice technology and integration is at the top of most of their must-see lists on the tradeshow floor. They realize that residential consumers today are starting to take a serious look at the capabilities of the connected home, especially if they can control it all with an app and the sound of their voice.

And with new players on the resi side now offering DIY and home-automation options and services sans the need for a security system, dealers today need to move swiftly to compete for the smart home market, while effectively imparting to their customers that the two—home automation and security—should be mutually inclusive.

With smart home technologies changing the way homeowners look at security and home-automation, dealers also need to have a staff that is trained to have the right answers for today’s tech-savvy customer.

If they don’t, there are others who are eager to move in and provide that answer and solution, by way of a security system or otherwise.

 

Smart homes—all is not golden?

 - 
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

While the “smart home” may be a vision of the future—with the rise in interest and demand for these technologies and services continuing unabated—all is not golden in this quickly emerging world of interconnectedness. Potential concerns include cost, ease of set-up and self-service, and support services.
 
Following data released in December by Argus Insights that shows growth in consumer demand for connected home devices slowing in 2015, findings from a recent survey reveal the specific challenges consumers are facing.

SSN reported on a June 2015 study from Argus, “Connected Home or Ho-Hum?” that showed a similar downward trend for smart home services, although many in the industry disputed the report, and many leading smart home companies are showing increases for 2015 in the adoption rate for their smart home interactive services.

As the industry continues to show interest in, and adopt the myriad new smart home services now available—controlling everything from your lights and heat to tracking your sleep patterns and even when your toast is done—there still may be some growing pains for this quickly emerging market.

To gain a better understanding of these challenges and explore possible solutions, Support.com, a provider of cloud-based software and services, surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. consumers in an effort to look at drivers and barriers of smart home usage and consumer behavior for both smart homeowners and potential buyers.

While nearly a quarter of respondents (23 percent) indicated that they have a smart home system installed in their home, the survey found key areas (cost, ease of set-up and self service, and support services) that may be causing some challenges or obstacles for existing and potential new consumers.

Despite the enhanced value to a home, the survey found that the perceived cost of smart home systems is a deterrent for many consumers, with 42 percent saying that price was their greatest frustration when purchasing, installing and maintaining their smart home systems.

The complexity of installing and configuring smart home systems is also frustrating users and causing hesitation in potential buyers. The survey found that 31 percent of smart home owners struggle with the complexity of setup, configuration and ongoing support for their devices, while 18 percent of smart home owners said their biggest frustration is when all of the devices don’t properly communicate and work together, and 43 percent of potential smart home buyers are concerned about the complexity of installing and configuring smart home devices and systems.

According to the survey, of current smart home owners, 61 percent want to fix issues on their own and become frustrated if they can’t, and 57 percent installed, connected and set-up all the devices and services themselves to save money on installation. Of potential buyers, 39 percent would rather install, connect and set-up all the devices and services on their own and save the money, and 22 percent would not buy a smart home system because they perceive it would be too complicated to install and set up on their own.

So while these findings are showing some hesitation as consumers try to make sense of the potential this new world of interconnectedness has, they also point to the need for security dealers and installers to connect more with their customers—and potential new customers—to bridge that gap between their interest in these new smart home technologies and their fear of taking the leap into this cool new world of interactive services.

By addressing these concerns up front, and adding some more transparency to the overall process, companies and installers may find that this initial resistance to smart home technology and services gives way to understanding and wider acceptance and adoption.

 

Broadband households plan for smart bulbs, appliances

 - 
12/23/2015

DALLAS—Thirty percent of U.S. broadband households intend to purchase a smart light bulb by end of 2015, according to research from Parks Associates.

Some 17 percent intend to buy a smart kitchen appliance, and 14% plan to purchase a smart thermostat.

Panel: Biz can learn lessons from smart home tech

It should be easy to enter commercial market, they say
 - 
12/15/2015

FOSTER CITY, Calif.—Smart home technology can and should bleed over into commercial market, especially for small business, according to three platform providers who spoke at the Cloud+ conference, held here.

Study: Smart home offerings drive resi security

21M households are monitored
 - 
12/02/2015

DALLAS—Smart home offerings have boosted residential security by more than 15 percent in the past two years, according to Parks Associates in its report, “The New Face of Home Security—2015 Edition.”

Study: Entertainment services driving smart home market

Consumers will spend $100 billion by 2020, firm says
 - 
11/04/2015

HAMPSHIRE, U.K.—Consumers will spend $100 billion on smart home services by 2020, according to new data from Juniper Research, based here. That includes expenses for entertainment, energy and home automation.

CES and the smart home

Jay Kenny, VP of marketing for Alarm.com shares his observations of smart home trends at this year's show
 - 
02/26/2015

Described as "the global stage for innovation," the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) draws more than 170,000 attendees and offers a unique opportunity to see big trends across consumer technology.

Lowe’s Iris thriving two years after launch

The home improvement retailer also is testing an installation option for customers who need assistance with the DIY smart home product
 - 
08/06/2014

MOOREVILLE, N.C.—In the two years since Lowe’s launched Iris, the new do-it-yourself home automation/home security product is doing so well it’s offered in Lowe’s stores nationwide and the company is trialing an installation option for customers who need extra help.

Pages