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Making an Intelligent Home

Following the hospitality industry, residential sector has the second most consumption of the automation products. Increasing ageing population, nuclear families,demand for enhanced security and energy conservation are considered the key drivers of Indian automation and control systems market.

As home automation products are becoming more accessible and affordable, the concept of smart homes is fast percolating to the mid-income households. Due to rising utility costs, Indians are getting more conscious of energy and water saving and have started to opt for add-ons like automated control devices that can regulate utility services. Smart meters is another growth sector for the home automation market.

What’s interesting is that the new generation of home buyers is younger, tech-savy and wants technology driven products. An example is the sort of revolution in smartphone penetration in India.Also, much in demand are smart devices like smart air-conditioners,smart TVs, audio-visual systems,refrigerators, kitchen & bath systems, washing machines and vacuum cleaners among others.

Not surprisingly, initially focused on HVAC and security systems, the home automation and control systems market too has now evolved into lighting and entertainment systems,communication systems, energy management systems and smartphone based automation services. In terms of market supply,along with major international home automation companies like Honeywell, Siemens and Schneider etc. many domestic players too are catering to the growing consumer demand. Also present are low-cost standalone automation products that are mostly unreliable.

Sameer-Saxena

In such a scenario, to get a closer look at the emerging trends, technologies and developments in the segment,Buildotech spoke to some of the major market players. While they all agree that the Indian market is still in nascent stage, also evident is the rising aspiration for a more digital lifestyle per square foot and the maturity of the buyers in terms of good quality product.Currently, most of the systems are wired solutions but with the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT), wirelessly connected and remotely controlled home appliances will dominate future concepts of home.

The home automation and control systems market is an extremely diverse market segment spread across different end-users,industries, market participants and signature product offerings. Sameer Saxena, Vice President, Sales &Marketing, Le grand India gives an overview of the industry.

The latest report on the global home automation and control systems market from Global Industry Analysts predicts that the global market for Home Automation will touch US$2.8 billion by the year 2015. The report “Home Automation: A Global Strategic Business Report,” states safety & convenience,technological advancements in home automation and rising demand from both European and emerging countries as the major factors driving the home automation market.

India Market

In India, home automation entered and gained popularity riding on its safety & security aspect such as Intrusion Protection, Alarms- (Incident Notification), Home Surveillance and other products. Gradually, it has evolved towards a converged offering with integration of lighting, security, A/V and automation. The latest products,control and manage different moods and scenario of lights and other features in a home with a single touch or setting.Some other technologies are allowing users to manage their household work/activity for convenience, comfort and energy, efficiency. Advances in the areas of apps are also changing the user interfaces and automation which is becoming much more user friendly and simple to manage on home owners handheld devices.

Technologies

Energy efficiency and smart living have become major concerns for end users over the last few years, creating immense opportunities for smart home products and devices. The home automation technology has already evolved from mechanical to remote and now it’s a fully integrated solution. We today have technology platforms like ZigBee, SCS BUS and KNX etc. and the systems are scalable and open, so that they can be integrated with different products including smartphones and smart devices to deliver seamless performance.

In coming years, the Internet of Things (IoT) will open up a new era for buildings. The programmes designed to speed up the deployment of connected devices will facilitate the emergence of connected buildings where IoT can enhance the value for all users. Product developers have already started to show interest in designing the next level of home automation which will use voice controls for basic commands to operate devices.

Challenges

Awareness and penetration of automation technology has some what been restrained in the Indian market. In terms of system integration, sometimes if a consumer buys different components from different brands, then it becomes difficult to synchronize and connect all the products at a particular point which is again by another brand.Another difficulty, the consumer faces is in operating one particular product at a single time after synchronizing/connecting all the products. Also for many of the products, one needs separate wireless adapters as some devices may work on a different kind of wireless network than Wi-Fi. In addition, different products may be using different technology plat forms like Zigbee, Zwave, Insteon itron,Radio Ra2, etc. Other challenges usually faced by the consumers are:

  • High initial cost: Includes programming, and installation costs
  • Consumer Mind-set: People are still conservative about technology use in residential buildings
  • Lack of Awareness: End users may not have up-to-date knowledge of new technologies and their benefits in the long term.

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