Navigant Research Blog

The Evolving Smart Home

— February 6, 2018

The growth of the Internet of Things is continually expanding the number of connected devices in our homes, offices, retail stores, and healthcare facilities, to name a few. According to Navigant Research’s recent report, The Smart Home, global smart home platform revenue is expected to increase from $4.2 billion in 2017 to $39.5 billion in 2026. This significant increase in revenue makes it clear the smart home is here to stay. With the smart home on the rise, what is the real added value these solutions offer to consumers?

Do Smart Solutions Provide Enough Value?

When you think of the smart home, it’s not uncommon to first picture Amazon’s Alexa-enabled voice activated devices, which allow users to play music, listen to the news, receive weather updates, and control compatible devices like a Philips Hue smart bulb all through voice. While devices like smart bulbs do provide additional benefits outside of voice control—such as dimming, color changing, and reducing energy use—how much additional value are these solutions really providing? Philips Lighting recently announced new software features that will sync Philips Hue lighting with gaming, movie, and music content. While this update does include additional features, how much value is this really adding? Is it helping to carry the smart home market forward? Is voice control, dimming, syncing with video games and movies, and energy savings enough? I would argue no. The added convenience of voice control and color-changing or dimming features through devices like smart bulbs do not provide enough of an advantage over more traditional products, like LEDs, for many consumers to justify paying the additional costs. The concept of voice control and changing the color of lighting through a mobile app are novel ideas that provide enough of a wow factor to intrigue consumers, but these features are not enough to carry the momentum of the smart home into the future.

Security as a Value Proposition for the Smart Home

Smart home vendors realize the need to provide additional value propositions for their products to appeal to the mass market and increase adoption of smart solutions. One of the top key trends expected in 2018 by Consumer Reports for the smart home industry is security. To be sure, this is not the only trend of the smart home this year; others range from additional connected devices to increased artificial intelligence to home healthcare, covered in a recent Navigant Research blog. Many of the trends anticipated for 2018 are about providing additional value to consumers for smart home solutions.

The desire for security is a universally shared need and one the smart home market can capitalize on. A recent example of this is Ring, a smart video doorbell company, acquiring Mr Beams, an LED lighting company offering indoor and outdoor LED fixtures. As a result of Ring’s first acquisition, the company launched a line of outdoor security lights. The new line includes pathway lights, step lights, and spotlights that will work jointly with Ring’s security cameras and doorbells. This acquisition not only highlights the growing significance of security as a use case driving progress in the smart home market, but also the importance of providing additional value to smart home products. Lighting integrated with security systems are a natural fit that can better highlight the value of smart home solutions for consumers than features like voice activation and remote control, and more logical partnerships will emerge. Security is just one example of a use case that can transform the smart home from providing additional convenience and a novelty features to a becoming a necessity for consumers.

 

Health and Well-Being and IoT in Buildings Provide Congruent Goals

— January 25, 2018

Last year, I attended Greenbuild International Conference and wrote about the focus on occupant health and well-being transforming the commercial buildings market. It was a theme throughout the conference, and seems one that is only now progressing in 2018.

In February, I’ll be attending Strategies in Light in Long Beach, California. While the conference has many education tracks around lighting, one that stands out to me is “Lighting for Health and Well-being.” The other areas that stand out are sessions surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) and lighting, from creating value to data and analytics to communication protocols and interoperability issues. Navigant Research discussed these themes and the overall market for lighting and IoT in its recent report, IoT for Lighting.

Adding Value in IoT

There is a lot of buzz around IoT, but it is still not clearly defined and the value proposition is often unclear. With more connected devices more data is available, but what is being done with the data? A clear value proposition is needed.

One of the key parts of Navigant Research’s definition of IoT lighting is adding value beyond illumination. Lighting can be seen as the entry point for IoT solutions within commercial buildings due to the granularity of lighting fixtures compared with data points in other building automation systems within a building. Because of this, lighting manufacturers, technology firms, and startups alike are working to create solutions to add value beyond illumination.

The Value of Health and Well-Being

Like IoT and lighting, there are various definitions of what it means to create a healthy building. Definitions include different aspects based on building materials, sustainability, and energy use. Emerging as a theme for healthy buildings are factors like occupant health and productivity. An occupant’s health and productivity are harder to quantify than energy savings. This can be a barrier for building owners and managers and companies looking to prioritize occupant health and well-being, even though there is a growing interest in doing so. While energy savings help to justify the cost of a lighting upgrade, with the growth of LEDs that is no longer something by which companies can differentiate themselves. Some companies believe human-centric lighting—lighting that can improve occupant’s well-being and productivity—is primed to overtake energy savings as a key differentiator in lighting design for buildings.

Competing or Complementary Goals?

Although these lighting education concentrations at Strategies in Light are separate education tracks, I believe they provide more of a complementary focus for the lighting market than a competing one. Increased connected devices through IoT allow for further data collection and analytics that can be used to help quantify the value of occupant comfort and health in conjunction with increased productivity or retail revenue. Providing increased occupant health and comfort can provide additional value and help create a clear value proposition for IoT solutions in buildings.

I’m looking forward to attending sessions in both areas at Strategies in Light and hopefully solidify my views of their complementary aspects. For more information on healthy buildings and the role of lighting, keep an eye out for the upcoming Navigant Research report, Lighting for Healthy Buildings.

 

Going Zero Waste

— January 4, 2018

Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, which took place in Boston during November 2017, had something for everyone in the realm of green buildings—education sessions with topics ranging from human health and net zero energy to innovation and technology. It also had an expo hall with roughly 700 vendors and impressive speakers such as former President Bill Clinton, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, and the US Green Building Council (USGBC) President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam. Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo devoted to green building. It is owned by Informa Exhibitions and is presented by USGBC.

Zero Waste Events and Goals

Throughout the event, one thing that struck me was the commitment of the conference organizers to waste diversion. There were dozens of three-container bins split for recycling, composting, and trash. Each segment was marked with images to minimize confusion. In addition to the signage, a volunteer was stationed at each receptacle to ensure attendees put waste in the correct compartment. This strategy to reduce waste at Greenbuild was implemented in 2016 when the conference was held in Los Angeles, California, and it resulted in the highest diversion rate ever for Greenbuild. The collaboration of Informa Exhibitions, USGBC, the Los Angeles Convention Center, local haulers, and other partners led to a 90% waste diversion rate and an 18% increase over the convention center’s baseline conversion rate. Data on waste diversion from the 2017 Greenbuild conference is not yet available.

On September 16, 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA)—in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12announced the first US-based goal to reduce food loss and waste by half by the year 2030. Since the 1990s, cities have slowly started to set zero waste goals, with San Francisco, California and Oakland, California being two of many cities to set zero waste targets with the goal of having zero waste by 2020. Zero waste events can help cities reach waste reduction and zero waste goals, and this type of event might be required by some cities. Additionally, a zero waste event can attract sponsors that share the priority of reducing waste. Many companies, including Subaru, Sierra Nevada, Toyota, and Microsoft, among a growing list of others, have set zero waste goals.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The efforts of Greenbuild are impressive for a conference of its size. If every large conference prioritized waste reduction as much as this event, the amount of waste diverted from landfills would be significant. Beyond diverting waste from landfills, creating less waste initially—or reusing items—creates less waste that needs diverting. I watched as the booths were taken down and I was struck by the pure amount of materials it took to fill an expo hall of that size: banners, giveaways, tables, extension cords, yards of carpet, and more. While some things can be reused at future events and this is a component of a zero waste event, not all materials are reused.

According to the EPA, Americans produce an average of 4.4 pounds of waste per person per day. Reducing the overall materials needed at conferences or in daily lives can help the total waste that will end up in a landfill. All items, even those recycled and composted, require materials to make them and energy to break them down. Following the first of the R guidelines, reduce, can have an overall effect on the materials to be reused and recycled by lessening the materials to be reused and recycled. Reducing society’s overall consumption and working toward zero waste in events and in the average consumer’s daily life will not happen overnight, but are ultimately achievable with time and practice.

 

Organizations Work to Combat Security and Interoperability Concerns Surrounding IoT

— November 21, 2017

According to Navigant Research’s new IoT for Lighting report, global market revenue for Internet of Things (IoT) lighting is expected to grow from $651.1 million in 2017 to $4.5 billion in 2026. With the growing number of connected devices and plethora of continual new data generation, data security is a top concern. It is seen as a barrier to adoption for IoT lighting and other IoT technologies within the commercial building space. However, despite the challenges surrounding security, there are organizations that are working to improve security and address other key concerns, such as interoperability.

Addressing Security Concerns

A non-profit, the IoT Security Foundation (IoTSF) aims to make it secure to connect the growing number of connected devices so the benefits of IoT can be realized. In September 2017, IoTSF announced a Smart Buildings Working Group. The key function of the group will be to establish comprehensive guidelines to help each supply chain participant specify, procure, install, integrate, operate, and maintain IoT security in buildings. Intelligent building equipment and controls such as lighting, HVAC, fire, building security, and audiovisual will be included.

The Smart Buildings Working Group, though in its infancy, has already received positive feedback and responses to partnership requests from technology firms. Lighting vendors are starting to express interest, as well. The growing list of partners and participants includes Oracle, Honeywell, and global engineering firm Norman Disney & Young.

Fighting Interoperability

Many IoT lighting systems and lighting control systems are proprietary or modified versions of standards, such as ZigBee. Some customers prefer proprietary systems, as this can simplify discussion over a responsible party for any possible system malfunctions. However, for many, this leads to confusion around which systems to purchase and to fear that components or an entire system might become obsolete. Additionally, this limits coordinated controls within a smart building and can limit the idea of holistic operations within a building.

There are groups, such as the IoT Ready Alliance and the DesignLights Consortium (DLC), working to address interoperability for IoT lighting and other IoT devices. The vision of the IoT Ready Alliance is interoperability and future-proofing of lighting products and services. By helping to expand the number of products that are IoT ready, consumers are not required to make the decision right away. This essentially helps in future-proofing lighting in a time where continued technology advancements can make the decision to upgrade to an advanced lighting system difficult.

The DLC is also helping to drive the widespread adoption networked lighting controls through its Networked Lighting Controls Specification program by providing tools and resources for utilities, energy efficiency programs, and the lighting industry.

Marching Forward

While there are organizations to address these barriers to widespread adoption, the fight to combat security and interoperability concerns within the commercial lighting market and the broader IoT space has just begun. Organizations such as IoTSF, DLC, and IoT Ready Alliance, while making progress, cannot combat these issues alone.

Industry players from lighting manufacturers to startups to tech firms will need to provide support and partnerships for these organizations in order to achieve an optimal outcome. Although initial feedback to these organizations and their work is reassuring and a step in the right direction, time will determine the full support and true success of these programs.

 

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