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Smart Homes - so 10 years ago?

27 January 2010
Smart Homes - so 10 years ago?

By Molly Webb, Head of Smart Technologies, The Climate Group.

I'm watching a webinar on Smart Homes (in the US) by Carol Priefert, Sr. Manager Global Consumer Insights and Technology, Global Product Organization (and Whirlpool?).

Carol reminds us that the vision of a smart home has been around for a while (I remember seeing this vision in Korea too in 2006) and it hasn't happened. This home had racks of servers out back all waiting to serve up video and communications to the connected user. It was too complex and too 'techy'.

Even today, according to Global Product Organisation's consumer research, consumers aren't asking for more technology and aren't excited about a connected home. This is born out by our learning from Boulder that it was difficult to give away smart meters. But this doesn't apply to all consumers. The devil is in the details and some people who are really busy, and are on the move, they like the idea of some of the smart home features.

Today, the vision is still not a reality, but maybe it is more "realizable". We actually have smart meters being rolled out (in spite of their teething problems) and tools like Google Power Meter in beta - not that this is a smart home, but it is a smart service for the home that doesn't require special wiring beyond an internet connection.

Keep in mind, the US didn't have more than 60% broadband penetration in 2005. Compare this to Korea which has something like 90% penetration and just announced $24 bn investment in smart grid to enable not only smart homes and EVs but the full vision of bringing renewables online.

But back to the home. The addressable market for smart home 'stuff' like programmable thermostats is about 30% of the US market. I think this would explode if businesses had access to real time information from utilities to provide a range of services to consumers. If you'd like to discuss the Call to Action on real time energy that we made in Copenhagen and what it could do for consumers, follow the forum on 2 degrees, or comment on this post.

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