Another day, another smart device for the home. Some are smarter than others. Some are very smart. Some are the smartest devices ever. And yet, they don't quite make a smart home.
So what is a smart home?
It's a bit like a good football team. Each player has specialized skills, but they can only win games by working together – and that takes a good coach. Throughout the game, the coach gets information from players and assistants to understand the big picture of what's happening on the field. With this intelligence, he can call plays that use the unique talents of each player to get more from the team.
The true smart home has such a coach. It's a platform: cloud software built specifically to connect and control every device in the home. It gathers intelligence from around the home and coordinates actions to make the home safer, smarter and more efficient.
You might not see what's happening behind the scenes, but you will definitely notice the unique features and value that only a platform-controlled smart home can deliver.
Let's consider three such cases.
A home that complements security with privacy
Video monitoring is a popular smart home security solution. Standalone smart cameras record motion-triggered clips of activity in the home and send them to the homeowner, providing valuable awareness of what's going on.
A smart camera powered by a platform can do more. The security system can tell the platform who disarmed the system or where important activity is happening, such as someone entering the back door. With this information the platform intelligently directs the camera to capture important activity and then alerts you with a video clip on your smart phone.
When the homeowner disarms the system, the camera doesn't record. The platform enhances awareness when you're away and privacy when you're home.
A home that senses every opportunity to save energy
A standalone smart thermostat knows when the homeowner walks in front of it. But that's not a lot of information to decide whether it should make the entire home comfortable, or set back to save energy. You might call it guesswork.
A smart home platform knows everything that's happening around the home. It knows definitively if the homeowner is away (security panel), if they're in bed (motion sensors), and even if they've left a door open (contact sensors). The platform knows the right time to save energy and the right time to make things comfortable.
A home that protects itself from water damage
Smart devices can help protect your property. For example, a water sensor can alert the homeowner that a pipe is leaking in their empty home.
A smart home platform can go further and respond proactively. When the water sensor is triggered the platform immediately commands a connected water valve in the basement to shut off the home's water.
And that's just the beginning. While the standalone device offers value in each case, the platform is the key to multiplying their value and solving complex, real-life challenges for homeowners. With more devices joining the Internet of Things, cloud platforms that integrate them will become essential to maximizing their capabilities.