SMART HOMES WITHOUT HUBS
By Steve Dunn May 2020
Smart home promises have dominated tech trade shows such as the Consumer Electronics Show(CES) in Las Vegas every year for the last ten years or so. Leading technology companies including Samsung, LG, and Panasonic revealed plans to add artificial intelligence to a host of unexpected devices from washing machines to air purifiers, cars to cooktops, to let them anticipate your needs. So, why is it that builders are still not including smart home infrastructure as a standard inclusion in new home builds?
As new technologies become more and more integrated into our everyday lives, shouldn’t 'new' home builds reflect this?
Most builders and architects will tell you it takes years to develop the skills to build a modern home due to the extensive knowledge base that is required. Not only do you need to have a design process that will help clients understand what the finished product will be, you also need to implement a building program that can successfully deliver on what you have promised.
So builders and architects are resisting setting up and installing smart home ‘things’ (and we’re borrowing the word “things” here from the expression Internet of Things) in new homes because they don’t have the skills to set it up. Further, the builders would have to go through a tedious sales process with the customers first (the home owners) to understand exactly what it is they want before they could install it.
Ok, so lets just imagine that in the near future, all these builders have trained themselves up in how to install smart home things – great right? And lets also assume in the future they’ve trained themselves up in how to sell all the smart home things to the home-owner too. But will that solve the problem of getting smart home things ‘in-built’ into new home builds?
The answer is still no. But why is it still no? Lets revisit what the builders and architects are saying, “you also need to implement a 'building program' that can successfully deliver on what you have promised”. What does that ‘building program’ mean exactly?
Most smart home things require connections to the internet to make them smart, and therefore a Wi-Fi connection is usually required. So if you promise to set up a smart home then generally you’ll also need to promise a Wi-Fi connection. And we all know to set up a Wi-Fi connection, you need to set an account with your ISP, get a router/modem, and configure that router/modem. And a builder is not going to set-up and pay for that Wi-Fi account. Its as simple as that. Builders build the houses – that’s what they do, they never set up and pay for accounts, such as electricity or gas, or water or Internet connections or whatever.
Ok, so I hear you asking ‘why can’t the builders do with smart homes, what they have done forever with electricity and telephone and gas, and water? – that is can’t they just wire up the smart home things, ready for when you move into your new home, and then you, the owner or renter, when you move in, simply set up the Wi-Fi account, and you are good to go smart?
Unfortunately smart home things are not as simple as power, gas and telephone lines, which usually only require an ‘off/on’ switch. Think about it, ‘you get your electricity switched "on", you get the gas turned "on", you get the water turned on’. These services are about ‘off and on’. You don’t usually have to do anything else other than approaching the utility company and asking/paying for the utility to be switched on.
But smart home things, are never as simple as an ‘on/off button’. Smart home things are about ‘configuring and setting up, and wizards, and downloading, and registering, and testing’. Configuring this device, with that device, setting up with that technology, running the wizard with this, downloading that, plugging this is, and so on and so forth. Don’t believe me, check out the instructions here for how to configure a Wi-Fi router, and here on how to set Nest smart thermostat (click on the links).
So even if the builders put in all the smart home infrastructure and smart home devices, there is no way they can guarantee that all the smart home devices are going to work with each other and the infrastructure, unless they set up the Wi-Fi account themselves, and put in all the devices themselves, and configure them all themselves, and set them all up themselves, and download all the software themselves, and test them all themselves, so they will never be able to deliver on "what they promise".
So the bottom line is, its going to be a long time before you can get a new house built that is a smart home. Or is it?
So what has all this got to do with a smart lock blog? Well most smart locks available on the marketplace usually require a Wi-Fi connection.
But what if a smart lock could connect to the Internet without a Wi-Fi connection? Well that’s what NB IoT smart locks do – they connect to the internet without a Wi-Fi connection – they also don’t require any mains power or wiring(they’re battery powered for years), and they can easily be set up by downloading a simple app in seconds.
So therefore a NB IoT smart lock could easily be installed into a new build house. The locks can look and operate like most mechanical locks, so the builders would not need to learn any new skills to install them.
The builders can also then take advantage of what a NB IoT smart lock offers to their building site. They can secure the site and store expensive product on site. They can easily distribute one-time digital keys to delivery people dropping stuff off securely on site. They can easily distribute time-sensitive digital keys to all the builders so they can access the site securely. They can track all the builders coming and going on site with live audits (no pay by the hour contractor disputes). And they can also offer the customer, a more secure and convenient solution for their house. And they builder can get all of this with never have to install and set-up Wi-Fi.