SMART HOMES: ‘We have found that killer application’


The latest, leading-edge smart home control systems and appliances will be on display at the upcoming Smart Homes 2010 conference and expo in Vienna from 22-24 September.  Energy efficiency will be a driving force during the gathering of hundreds of utility, telecom, appliance, high-tech and software experts with the main challenge to make it cost effective for the consumer and profitable for the service providers – and thus creating a business case for the smart home of the future.

Smart Homes connect appliances, heating, air-conditioning, lighting and security through intelligent home management systems to increase comfort and energy efficiency.

“We have found that killer application”
Technology giant Cisco is one of the companies who will demonstrate the features, benefits and savings of the smart home of the future.  Rolf Adam is Cisco’s Director Sales Business Development Europe – Utilities & Smart Grid:  ”The concept of Smart Homes has been around for more than a decade.  While in the past, we have seen major efforts being made into home automation and value added services we have been missing the killer application – the one key driver stimulating investments into Smart Homes. With mass deployment of distributed generation – renewables or otherwise – and the advent of innovation in the energy storage space (heat, battery) we have found that killer application.”

Movies, heaters, blood pressure…
Cisco’s Rolf Adam believes convenience, technology and costs are critical to drive Smart Home adoption:  “Smart Homes will have a convenience factor far beyond what customers are used to. Be it viewing your favourite movie via the internet rather than leaving home on a rainy Saturday night for the local video store, turning up the heater well before you get home from that ski trip rather than getting home to a cold house, having your physician take and discuss your blood pressure from home.  It’s all about creating convenience.  That convenience must come in a technology format that is easy to use- plug it in and use it.  And it needs to come at a cost point where it isn’t only the toy for the affluent but a basic infrastructure component like a wireless router or a set top box.”

Business case for energy efficiency
Morten Bremild of the Danish technology company Qees agrees that “the conventional smart home market today is a luxury product for early adopters” and he describes as “still immature” both the market and the consumer.  He says the new business platform that smart homes present in the medium to long-term future is not in the sale of hardware, “but in a software-based future of applications, upgrades and services.  Increased interoperability and cross-sector collaboration are required to deliver consumer-demanded services such as streaming of television, music, news, etc., and content-based services in addition to services designed to organise and streamline daily processes.   Smart homes will become a service-based industry as it matures.”  

However, the Qees Sales and Marketing Director says the short-term business platform is “the challenge of the smart home industry to get the hardware infrastructure deployed first”.

Smart homes worldwide
By 2013 over 20 million worldwide homes will be equipped with smart home systems, and by 2014 the global smart homes market is estimated to be valued at $13.4 billion.  Growing at a rate of 16.5% between 2009 and 2014, this multi-billion dollar market is accelerating fast.

Smart Homes 2010 will showcase some of the latest technology used in smart homes:

  • The Cisco Home Energy Management Solution, a bundled LCD screen solution that will include services for keeping tabs on energy consumption and pricing information. In theory, this helps keeping tabs on demand.
  • QEES will showcase the ‘SmartGate’. An innovative ‘future energy management infrastructure’ tool that is flexible and customizable, allowing the end-user to save energy and money, whilst at the same time enjoy the comfort and convenience of home entertainment, mobile phone interface, lighting and climate control as well as security and safety of intruder alarm and access control.
  • Intel’s Intelligent Home Energy Management runs on their Atom processors and aims to be a central and straightforward way to figure out ways to reduce utility bills, as well as also conveniently having integrated apps like Facebook, YouTube, and Pandora.
  • Panasonic recently announced a collaboration with SEAS-NVE, Denmark’s largest consumer-owned energy company, to start pilots of its Lifinity Home Energy Management System (HEMS) to intelligently manage the energy consumption of appliances, lighting and heating.

Smart Homes 2010 will also feature future visions from utilities including EnBW, ENEL, EDF and from telecoms including Telefonica, Vodafone, Belgacom, Orange and Telecom Italia, and appliance manufacturers including Bosch, Indesit and Electrolux.

Event website:  
Co-located event:  Metering Europe
Event dates and location:  22-24 September 2010 – Reed Messe, Vienna

For more information, interviews and accreditation:
Communications manager:  Annemarie Roodbol
Tel.  +27 21 700 3558
Fax.  +27 21 700 3501
Mobile:  +27 82 562 7844