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Author Topic: state of the home automation market  (Read 3767 times)

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Offline fobmob

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state of the home automation market
« on: June 24, 2014, 10:20:07 am »
Hello,

On the eve of Shipping Day, I'm starting to dig into the world of automation that the Almond+ is opening up for me. (One practical problem that the router will hopefully solve, is to remotely control the blinds of a roof window in my new sleeping room, which would otherwise force me up and down a ladder every morning while still in the process of waking up).

Now what immediately jumps out during my quest, is the high price and general ugliness of the controllers and sensors out there. You'd expect the market to have evolved in the several decades that home automation has been a thing now, and yes, standards like z-wave and zigbee certainly won't hurt, but peering on, say, the TZ08U Roller Shutter Controller, takes me all the way back to the nineties: cheap hardware, that's supposed to carry out relatively simple tasks, being wrapped in beige plastic and sold "as is - make sure you find something compatible to go with it"at $$. Choose a couple of them (or in my case, a controller, a motor, and a compatible roller) and the monthly budget for your average DIY-er is long gone.

Do you think that the products offered in the home automation market are mature? With behemoths like Google/Nest and Apple focusing more on home automation, do you expect a revolution and price disruption in this space, and advise me to hold off of the current offers out there, lest they'd demote to old junk in a couple of months? Or am I totally underestimating the technological refinement and production cost of these things?

Thanks,

N.

Offline eldaria

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Re: state of the home automation market
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2014, 02:17:41 pm »
Actually the market suffers from low competition, low volumes, system fragmentation, closed systems, vendor lock-in and high licensing costs. So the prices are ridiculous high and in my opinion often a serious rip-off.

But I think this will change soon, we have started seeing much nicer hardware that in some cases warrants the high cost, but we will also see other actors coming to the market.
Fibaros FGRM222 is much nicer looking, actually it is supposed to be hidden. It is still rather pricy, but I suppose this is in large part du to Sigma Designs licensing cost.

I also thing that soon we will see cheaper ZigBee devices, the market is maturing, more and more actors are entering the market this will force the prices to go down.
The question is still what standard will be the winner, well I think it will be the most open and available one, in the meantime we get the Almond+ to bridge a few common systems.

LGNilsson

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Re: state of the home automation market
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2014, 05:42:57 pm »
A lot of things are likely going to change over the next 12-24 months. Costs will come down, designs will improve and competition will get to a point where at least some players will be forced out of the market. As for Google and Apple, so far all the things they're doing are a bit too niche, but considering the size of their wallets, it would be foolish to think either company wouldn't be able to take a big slice of the market. It's still early days of "modern" home automation and there are a lot of great companies out there, both large and small, so it'll be interesting to see where it all ends up. We believe ZigBee is the way forward for what it's worth, as it'll be the most cost competitive solution out there by far and that alone is a major advantage.

Offline Gaspode

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Re: state of the home automation market
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2014, 02:34:08 am »
Checkout Vitrum for nice looking controls ...

LGNilsson

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Re: state of the home automation market
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2014, 04:40:29 am »
Ouch! Their stuff is Expensive!
Looks pretty nice though, but 150++ for a wall switch, really?

Offline Pestus

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Re: state of the home automation market
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2014, 08:05:59 pm »
Another solution is to work backwards.  Being in the security industry, I can suggest that a vast majority of old alarm systems out there can cheaply or easily be refurbished to work with home automation systems of various sorts.  Micasaverde, Homeseer, Fibaro, Zipato, etc are all gateways that can accomplish this.  Hopefully the Almond+ will help people in this regard as well, giving more choice in the market.

I say this because the security industry does not suffer from the lack of volumes.  As a result, these sensors are cheap.  They also are very well refined by this point, offering extremely reliable components.  Batteries in most wireless sensors may last the better part of a decade in some cases.  The same can not be said for Z-wave or similar.  In those situations, the sensors are over priced, known to be less than perfectly reliable, and offer other pitfalls..   For example, the motion detectors are pitiful.  Zero pet immunity is unusable for many people.

As for actuators, such as what you're specifically speaking about, quality can only improve as manufacturers get feedback as to how their products fall down.  It's everyone's collective responsibility to let them know how their devices are being used, and how to improve their reliability.  Costs can only go down once volumes ramp up.

Apple and Google will both make a play to enter the market with some devices.  I wouldn't be surprised if even Blackberry gets into the gateway and cloud service automation business as well.  (Whatever you might say about their company's failures lately, their network security is a thing of beauty)  The issue at hand is to build more affordable, attractive and reliable actuators (thermostats, garage door opener widgets, blinds motors, etc).  It's also to ensure that they can be compatible with all the various gateways out there.  (Published APIs or SDKs, a willing community of coders able to port these new devices to the various gateways such as Almond+.

The market is in such a state of flux that I figure it won't really settle into any form of equilibrium for some time.  Perhaps a year or two.  Then you'll see things take off quite quickly, pushed by the big data players looking to acquire more data to sell to advertisers, or to just generally open up more markets for themselves.  I look on it as potentially the next big thing, similar in scope to how the smart phone market changed society.  Big things await us, I suspect.  All the DIYers that have been waiting for it will simultaneously rejoice as their world opens up, but also may not entirely like where the big corporations take their hobbies...

My 2 cents.  (Or was that 10?)

Offline eldaria

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Re: state of the home automation market
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2014, 02:51:09 am »
Hello Pestus.

Indeed the sensors are a lot cheaper usually, but most of them uses a proprietary system for communicating, and it is only lucky if you can find the specifications for talking with the central.

Some work has already been done in this area for other HA systems, there is another thread in this forum called Alarm System Integration where we discussed some of this and there is also a link to where some people have collected information about integrating with various security systems.

If you mean to modify sensors to comply with Z-Wave or Zigbee directly, I don't think this will be easy, also it is usually the actual Z-wave and Zigbee chips that are expensive, not the sensor part.

Offline Pestus

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Re: state of the home automation market
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2014, 03:16:16 am »
eldaria,

I merely mean that drivers for these various alarms would mean the sensors for the alarm are perfectly exposed to the automation anyways.  This makes it immaterial what kind of sensors they are.  It also makes it feasible for an end user or DIY enthusiast to approach it.  Most alarms talk to third party systems by RS232, but this can be down converted to USB easily.  One that I know of in particular talks pure IP, making life simple. 

The specifications to talking to the central stations are available to simple searches.  (Contact me if this is of use to anyone in development)   They are also incredibly simple, being they were designed for a long ago era of 300 baud.  As in, a word of data or so per signal, with only a couple dozen possible signals.  This though isn't too useful for denizens of this forum unless a radically different direction is taken.  I don't think Almond+ want's to go the direction of Zipato. 






Offline eldaria

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Re: state of the home automation market
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2014, 03:28:43 am »
Well some alarms have been found, usually older systems, I found this link http://code.mios.com/account and from there I found the protocol for my alarm system http://www.domoticaforum.eu/viewtopic.php?f=68&t=6581, I do have plans to try and communicate with it, and if I succeed in it then I plan on making a module to expose the sensors to the Almond+ and hopefully also enable the Almond+ to send SMS and such.

Offline Pestus

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Re: state of the home automation market
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2014, 03:41:40 am »
eldaria,

Any way I can help?  I can very easily collect a large quantity of usable APIs and connection methods for various makes of these alarms, but my coding skills are woefully out of practice, and I'm far too busy with my work to get that a project like that.

 

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