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Thrust moves vision for smart home revolution forward

12 Sep 2014  | Jasmine Solana

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Key industry giants have started putting their visions of smart homes to reality. The market for wireless domestic bliss is forecast to become worth multi-billion dollars, and many tech companies, are battling to get a head start.

The dream of creating smart home has been around for quite some time, but was faced with many technical difficulties. Now, companies are visualising a world of synced devices, where users can control their in-home thermostats using their smartphones or watch over their houses remotely with wireless-connected security cameras.

Giants inching close to smart home dreamSamsung is the latest company to invest in its push for a wireless home. In August, the South Korean company bought SmartThings for a reported $200 million, according to Bangkok Post . SmartThings is a U.S. start-up that develops apps to link electric devices and household appliances.

However, search engine giant Google was a little bit ahead in the smart home innovation game following its $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs, which creates fire alarms as well as energy-saving thermostats.

According to ABI research analyst Aapo Markkanen, the buyout could lead to Nest being opened up to third-party developers, with Google in the centre of things.

"An ecosystem player like Google owning a major data domain like Nest can speed up the required interoperability work," Markkanen said. "Globally adopted Nest products, and their APIs, could serve as the foundation for Google's own, semi-open Internet of Everything."

Meanwhile, start-up companies like Revolv and WigWag are also looking for ways to control various smart home devices using a single automation platform. The two companies have already developed home gateway devices to drive this, but they face competition from telcos, security players, retailers and established home automation specialists, according to a separate ABI report.

Bright future for wireless homes?According to ABI analysts, sales of wireless embedded smart home devices spiked last year to 17.23 million, which almost double the shipments made in 2012. The firm forecasts that the number is likely to overpass half a billion units by 2018.

Other industry players have also entered the battle to dominate the future intelligent home.

For instance, Microsoft has already entered many homes using its Xbox game console. The console, which Kinect system can sense move and speech, is not only designed for gaming, but for other online activities as well.

Apple, on the other hand, is bringing up the rear with its HomeKit. The Cupertino-based company's platform is designed to connect devices and a space for software developers who will create the needed applications.

"Future growth in home automation controllers will increasingly come from the need to accommodate multiple application segments such as home healthcare, lighting control, security and home energy management," states ABI senior analyst Adarsh Krishnan. "These applications and new features such as voice and gesture control, and machine learning algorithms will define controller products of the future."

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