The connected home has long been a popular topic for journalists keen to cast an eye into the future. Everything that could have an IP address it seemed would have an IP address; fridges that let you know when you were out of milk, blinds that could be opened and closed from a web browser at work, central heating managed via a smartphone app.
In reality, while these type of applications do exist, there’s very little integration between them and they are expensive and relatively complex to install and manage. The connected home is still – by and large – tomorrow’s world rather than today’s.
But the move from future to present may not be too long coming judging from what was seen and heard during a connected home session at last week’s IP&TV World Forum.
Forced into looking for alternative revenue streams to replaced declining voice revenues, one New Zealand telco has decided to focus heavily on providing inter-home connectivity. Based primarily around entertainment connectivity (allowing seamless sharing of content between devices) and system’s management, the proposition nevertheless provided a framework upon which other home management systems and services could be added.
This was the first time I’d heard a connected home proposition that seemed to both understand the current market opportunity yet provide a clear development path to a future that has been oft talked about yet not delivered.
It was also encouraging to see that this pathway to tomorrow’s world was not being pushed by a consumer technology giant or networking company but a domestic telco that was taking a proactive approach to the very real problem of it becoming a pipe for services owned and monetized by someone else.
The panel discussion at the end of the session sounded like every discussion on connected homes since IP addresses were invented – we can expect health, home utility management, climate etc. to be controlled via a network – but set against the context of the earlier presentation it felt a lot less like future gazing and more a preparation for a case study next year.