The conversation that has been ongoing for decades on the software side of the construction industry—point solutions versus platform—is the same one that is happening with the connected home. Alongside that discussion is the one of interoperability, and there is much to cover in the home today.
Let’s back up for a minute and talk about the smart home in general. Homes are no longer just made of bricks, stone, wood, insulation, plaster, and other construction materials. They are connected intelligently by technologies that provides heightened security, convenience, and comfort for the homebuyer. Homeowners have come to expect this kind of connectivity in the home today. Insider Intelligence suggests about 60 million U.S. households (46.5% of all U.S. homes) will use smart home devices by 2023, more than double that of 2018.
Thus, builders must provide it in some ways to customers. Certainly, there are a number of ways to approach this. Builders could simply wire the homes for the technology and let the buyer add what they would like later. Or the builder can work with the buyer to make decisions about what to put inside the smart home. Let’s take a closer look at what some of the options might be.
Point vs. Platform for the Home
It is a tale as old as time. Do you choose a point solution—a software that aims to address a single use case—or a platform that offers a robust foundation. For the home, many suggest it should be the latter.
Consider the example of Silicon Labs, which developed the Series 2 SoC family under the premise that as the IoT (Internet of Things) matured, instead of looking for point solutions, the market would be looking for IoT platforms that combine hardware, software, security, tools, and support. In many ways this prediction has come to fruition.
Silicon Labs has nearly doubled its IoT revenue since the first member of the Series 2 family debuted in 2019, and earlier this month it expanded the family to include four new products including complete Matter development solutions providing support for Matter; the first end-to-end development platform with complete connectivity support for Amazon Sidewalk; a new flagship SoC and power amplifier; and Silicon Labs’ first Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth LE SoC family.
While this is simply one example, we are seeing the rise of the platform for the smart home. Alongside this conversation comes the one of interoperability, which is a hot topic today with the ongoing developments specifically with Matter.
Interoperability in the Home
The Matter standard is getting a lot of press these days. For those who might not know, Matter is one protocol to connect compatible devices and systems with one another. Essentially, devices that provide support for Matter will work together, creating more connection in the home.
Let’s continue with the example of Silicon Labs for a moment. It has announced a portfolio of hardware and software Matter solutions. No matter the protocol—Bluetooth, Thread, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, or Z-Wave—Silicon Labs offers hardware, software, and development tool solution to enable developers to bridge their products to Matter and all the major smart device ecosystems.
Here’s the other thing. Matter isn’t the only standard to consider. One of the less talked about standards in the states is KNX, which is an open standard for homes and building automation that can manage lightings, blinds, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), security, energy management, audio/video, and more.
All this to say, there are nearly as many smart-home options as there are options for countertops or appliances. Staying abreast on the latest platforms, standards, and products will enable the homebuilder to be a partner in building the smart home the client truly desires and someday just might need.
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