CES 2017: What Makes a Smart Home Smart?
I confess I love coming to the Consumer Electronics Show. I’ve attended virtually every year for the past 15 years. I especially look forward to walking the floor and discovering the latest innovations. While the thinner and higher resolution TV’s, self-driving cars, drones, and artificial intelligence robots are always fun, for the past several years, my primary focus has been on the "Internet of Things" (IoT) and the smart home.
This year was particularly exciting because Xfinity Home had its first booth at the Smart Home Marketplace at CES. This IoT marketplace is where everyday objects are becoming "smart" through monitoring, control, and connectivity to the internet. That connectivity unlocks two-way communication between you and your connected device. As I walked around, I reflected on one of my favorite questions, "What actually makes a connected home smart?"
In my mind, there’s a difference between a connected home and a smart home. Consumers can connect all sorts of devices like door locks, light bulbs, video cameras, thermostats, and doorbells. But just because you put a bunch of cool devices in your home doesn’t make it smart; it just makes it connected.
In fact, the more devices you install, the larger the burden you have because each requires set up and individual management. If I have 15, then it means I have 15 apps to manage, and often there is no obvious way to get them to all to work in a complementary way, in synchronicity. That’s not smart; that sounds like a headache.
Xfinity Home transforms connected homes into smart homes, because we’ve created a platform that connects the dots between the devices. With it, they talk to one another and are managed by a simple user experience via a mobile phone, TV, tablet, and even your own voice. Xfinity Home makes it easier to make the smart home come to life.
Just prior to CES, we announced a new partnership with General Electric and Sengled to add two more lighting control partners into our Xfinity Home ecosystem. At CES, we also announced a new partnership with Zen Ecosystems, which makes a connected thermostat and will be a key component to a re-launched energy program we plan to roll out later this spring.
These new devices add to some of our other best-in-class partners, including Nest, Lutron, Chamberlain, August Home, and others. Once installed, customers can unify these devices and create routines, rules, and automations that make the connected home a smart home.
For example, customers can create a goodnight routine that arms your security system, turns off all the lights, locks doors, closes the garage, and puts the thermostat in evening mode. Alternatively, you can create a rule that automatically turns on the hallway light if motion is detected between sunset and sunrise.
Our customers particularly like setting a camera up to send brief video clips when a motion sensor is activated by someone at their front doorstep, like a delivery man or a dog walker.
They are generating new rules at a rapid pace. In fact, we have seen as many as 40,000 rules created in a few short weeks. The possibilities will only increase as we add more partners to our ecosystem.
Finding new partners was a priority for me at CES this year. I met with so many great companies that are interested in becoming part of our Xfinity Home experience. From, next-generation connected smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detectors, to interesting innovations in healthy living and of course the next generation of popular items like video doorbells and cameras.
My team and I look forward to rolling up our sleeves and testing out some of these new devices and experiences that will transform otherwise connected homes into smart homes.
If you’re interested in becoming a partner, please visit our new partner portal. We invested a lot of time and effort to redesign it and make it easy to understand what our partnership process is and how we work to test and certify devices before offering them to potentially millions of customers.
I had a fantastic time at CES this year and, believe it or not, my team and I are already planning ahead for CES 2018. I can’t wait.