In our final episode of 2014 we decided we'd do what every other tech-news show and blog on the planet do, and take a look back at the biggest stories of the year. What we lack in originality we strive to make up for by giving our own personal take. Specifically offering our thoughts as home automation professionals and systems integrators.
When looking back at the big home technology news of 2014 we couldn't help but notice three overarching themes:
1) The Push of Both Big-Box Retailers and Tech Giants Into the Smart Home
For years we've heard it said by professionals and enthusiasts alike that "the smart home is going main stream". For a variety of reasons it has just never materialized. As 2014 comes to an end we still wouldn't argue that the smart home is truly "main stream". However without question the camel's nose is under the tent. To varying degrees we saw 6 major retailers place their bets in 2014 (Home Depot, Lowes, Staples, Best Buy, Walmart, and Target). We also saw (major) moves by tech giants Google, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft (sort of). In this episode we discuss what this all means not only for consumers, but also for integrators as we struggle to stay relevant in the face of such increased commoditization.
2) The "Year of the Standard"
Looking back at the year in home technology, we couldn't help but see 2014 as the "year of the standard". Competition between different protocols and standards like Zigbee and ZWave is nothing new. However as the smart home becomes a reality for more and more consumers the conversation has gained increased relevance. Improvements to existing technologies (like WiFi and BlueTooth), as well as new entrants (like the Thread Group) have also added complexity to this conversation.
3) Empowering the End User
The third broad theme of 2014 we discuss is an increased push towards empowering the end user. DIY installation and app-based configuration are no-brainers for startups entering the smart home space. For traditional manufacturers like Crestron and Savant this is a different proposition all together. These systems tend to be far more complex in nature. Additionally their distribution models depend on an integrator being able to add value. 2014 was an interesting year to watch these traditional players adapt to increased pressure from the low end of the market. Crestron's Pyng, and Savant's new 7.0 release are discussed as the two prime examples of this game-changing trend.
Lastly we close the show with a few predictions about what 2015 will bring to the smart home.
In addition to 2014 being a big year in the industry, it was also a huge year for us personally as we launched HomeTech.fm. Entering 2015 we will continually strive to produce the definitive source for home technology news and opinion. We want to sincerely thank you for your listenership! We look forward to a big year in 2015 and hope that you will continue to be a part of it!