The next trillion connected devices at home: Security, fragmentation, and potential

Matt Johnson Uncategorized

Mobile devices can be hidden, sold, and moved around, but one type of property will always be the same when we return to it: our homes.

Homes are arguably the most intimate “things” we own, and as our home devices become more connected to the Internet, it is crucial they retain a sense of predictability or safety.

This was a major theme of concern for both hardware and software firms of connected devices yesterday morning’s panel at GMIC SV entitled “Connected SmartHome – iOT Platforms, Standards and Winner Take All”, where Matthew Michael of Qualcomm, David Friedman of Ayla Networks and Paul Williams of Control4 described the IoT industry and its challenges.

The widely-coined “Internet of Things” (IoT) is set to change our lives dramatically and make things as diverse as locks, lights, thermostats, beds, and appliances at home into mobile devices. But making sure this happens in a systematic and integrated way is a huge headache for potential first adopters who hope that fragmentation does not produce a sense of inertia.

From chaos eventually comes stability, but the messiness is likely to remain without some element of cooperation or coordination in the coming years. When your bed talks to your thermostat, it can be both a delightful surprise to have temperatures optimize for sleeping, but it can be equally disconcerting to have something break. Adoption of connected devices in our homes can be a scary thought.

“If you cut a corner, you’ll be in deep trouble,” said David. Stories the panel relayed included a major retailer being compromised by its connected HVAC system and people being unable to enter their homes after upgrading their devices to iOS 9.

The scale of the change

That is why it is so important that as the Internet of Things expands and as home devices and appliances connect to the network, that these devices behave reliability and safely for consumers.

In the next phase of the Internet, the amount of connected devices will reach into the “trillions”, according to moderator Ben Bajarin, Principle Analyst at Creative Strategies in his introduction. “The entire home becomes the computer,” he notes.

“Consumers want automation but want to be in control of that automation”, said Paul. It builds a lot of concerns for control and reliability.

“None of us today can imagine what it will be like in the future”, said Matt. That is why it will be important for products to be able to iterate over 15 year cycles, he said. For him, questions of interoperability, safety, and management of new devices would be the most important factors for the success of this industry.  

The panelists all agreed that standards and upgradability would be some of the main concerns for the industry. “Products will come and go” and there will be new manufacturers all the time, said Paul. Creating some way to connect these together will be crucial.

All in all, it was an enlightening discussion, and it will be exciting to see where this industry moves in the coming years.

Matt Johnson is Senior Account Manager at Allegravita LLC, a public relations and strategic communications agency with a focus on the China region.

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