Has The Smart Devices Market Peaked & Is CHIP The Future
Several CE distributors along with large Chinese Companies are trying to grab a share of the Australian SmartHouse market with a mix of devices spanning automated on off switches, lighting and security to devices that control just about everything.
Patrick Mcarthy is the Director of New Business Development & Dealer Services at Azione Unlimited, a US consumer electronics buying group.
He wrote recently that the smart devices market is already saturated, and that the category has an identity crisis because so many brands are sticking the name smart on a product.
Everything from toasters to toilets can earn its badge and be marketed as ‘the device of the future.’ he recently wrote.
He claims that this begs the question: How should we define the smart home? If you were to ask technology giants Google, Apple, Amazon and Zigbee, they would tell you the future is CHIP, or “Connected Home over IP.
Project CHIP is one of the most complex projects in the smart home industry.
Google, Amazon, Apple, and Zigbee want to tackle how devices work with each other and elevate the smart home offering for all consumers.
Launched in late 2019, the connectedhomeip.com website states that “the goal of the Connected Home over IP project is to simplify development for manufacturers and increase compatibility for consumers.”
It slates the project as a “shared belief that smart home devices should be secure, reliable, and seamless to use.”
In my opinion, three main attributes should qualify a device as smart – interoperability, functionality, and privacy.
Essentially, it’s about asking, can the device play well with others, can the device solve an actual issue, and can the device keep your data private.
Eight months after the December 2019 launch of Project CHIP, the Zigbee Alliance dropped a glimmer of hope that the project was still on track and growing “by an order of magnitude, from a few dozen participating companies to more than 145 active member companies.”
Additionally, the list of growing use cases now covers “lighting and electrical (e.g., light bulbs, luminaires, controls, plugs, outlets), HVAC controls (e.g., thermostats, AC units), access control (e.g., door locks, garage doors), safety and security (e.g., sensors, detectors, security systems), window coverings/shades, TVs, access points, bridges” and “other consumer electronics products.”
After Apple launched its first iteration of Siri in 2011 along with virtual assistants (RIP Clippy), Siri ushered in a new paradigm of human-to-computer interaction.
The digital assistant arms-race exploded over the next few years, with Amazon and Google quickly pushing their product to the market. Today, it is nearly impossible to find a device that won’t wake up to the noise of, “Hey, Alexa or Hey Google” And while it may be fun to keep score of who is winning between the big three, the most prominent issue has shifted from “Who is the best?” to “What have you done for me lately?”
For just a moment, reflect on your personal use of smart assistants. What was the last task you asked it to perform? Where were you? What was the result? A 2018 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers indicates that “of the 90 percent who [are aware of voice technology], the majority have used a voice assistant (72 percent),” but the most common task was to search for an answer that they would normally type out, followed by asking a question, checking the weather, and playing music.
McCarthy claims Project CHIP still has a long way to go he said “Suppose you use the recently concluded virtually held Consumer Electronics Show as a benchmark to the future. In that case, the average consumer is still looking at smart locks and speakers as the future, as noted in the show producers’ “Emerging Tech That Is Shaping the Industry” information release”.
“Taking a step back, the view starts to come together on what a smart home should be, and just how we got to this position. Interoperability, functionality, and privacy still sit as the critical components for what should drive my vision of the smart home market – with project CHIP only solving one piece of that puzzle. If they spend all their time building a highway for devices to talk to each other but still lack genuine capabilities to create innovation, it may feel like one step forward and two steps backward”.