Does the increase of IoT spell the demise of the custom integrator?
With the introduction of IoT based devices like the Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue and Nest thermostat many integrators fear that the major home automation players don’t have a long life expectancy and that over time consumers will be able to pick up devices off the shelf and magically have an automated home.
There is no doubt that the internet of things (IoT) is here to stay. As consumers embrace more advanced technologies in their home and lifestyles we as experts in our field should not see this as the impending doom of the CI industry but rather we should embrace and use the IoT to its full potential.
So how can the IoT benefit us in the CI industry?
I’m sure that, like myself, many of you have had trouble describing your occupation and industry to people at social gatherings. In recent years it has been getting easier to describe what we do as consumer awareness of the technologies and possibilities have become more readily available.
People have seen IoT devices in Apple Stores, JB HiFi, Dick Smith and even Bunnings Warehouse, where they usually can buy a smart socket or smart lock and have it linked up to their mobile phone or tablet. When you also add in their interaction with these kinds of technologies in the media, whether it be movies like Iron Man or through news articles like Zuckerberg’s plans on AI Butlers, consumers have a pretty good idea of the possibilities of the integrated home.
More integration possibilities
With the IoT boom manufacturers from all over the world are invested in making devices ‘smart’.
The definition of smart in this context may be debatable, but what it does provide us is a means to communicate to these devices on a higher level.
As integrators our job is to make a consumers life easier and with thousands of new IoT devices flooding the market this gives us the tools we need to provide better solutions.
More affordable technology
As manufacturers build more IoT devices, technology will become more affordable in our industry.
Microchip manufacturers are now making chips that have WiFi, Bluetooth, ADC,s DACs, I2Cs, UART, SPI, SDIO, I2S, RMII, PWM all built in.
What this means is that less components are required and the cost to build IoT products is heavily reduced.
As such this brings down the price of products in the CI world, too. Gone are the days where consumers would need to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for a mediocre solution that resembles a universal remote more than a smart home.
Entry into the home
So this all now ties together and paints a picture. We experts can now approach consumers easier as consumers have a basic idea of what a smart home is. They may have some IoT devices in the home which you can integrate and improve their lifestyle with and as the costs of products have come down affordability of smart homes is better now than ever.
So in conclusion does IoT spell the demise of the custom integrator? I personally think that it is quite the opposite in that IoT provides integrators with the tools, awareness and affordability to break the barriers on entry into more consumer homes.