Mass Market Home Control, Again
Is the Internet of Things going to change everything?
August 19, 2013 by Grant Clauser

It’s the internet of things, the cloud space where all your devices meet and shake each others’ hands, that will make this integration possible.

RELATED: What’s the Best Home Control System?

Not only does mass market automation have technical hurdles to overcome; business and education hurdles are just as big. “No one goes into a store and says they want to buy a smart home,” Harris says, “but they might see a NEST thermostat or a Comcast [Xfinity Home] commercial and say ‘I want that…’ there’s no one right way to bring this to the consumer’s home.” He believes that for a consumer to adopt a connected home product, it has to come from a brand or channel they already know and trust, which is why Harris says Zonoff is partnering with major companies that can communicate with the consumer.

On the technical side, currently Zonoff’s platform supports 12 different wireless protocols with more on the way. Not every product partner will need all 12 protocols, but being standard agnostic can go a long way to making a system easy to use.


The Zonoff Sentry is hardware reference design which separates the control software from the radios.

Is there one killer use scenario or must-have product that will get the world excited about home control? “For everyone there’s a killer app; maybe there are two killer apps. The problem is that for every person that app might be different,” says Harris. Some users might be sold on multiroom audio while others are attracted to the security of IP video cameras. To make this market successful consumers shouldn’t have to decide on one or the other. Everything should be essentially compatible with everything else (within reason).

Oh course; this is where professional control systems and integrators have succeeded, while DIY systems have mostly stayed in the niche market of tech-savvy consumers. Telecom companies like AT&T and Comcast are also getting their toes wet with home automation in a variety of scenarios, from professionally installed to DIY (but monitored). It seems the market has been on the brink of breakthrough for years. Is this going to be that year?

More about home automation:
Home Automation FAQs for Beginners
What Can Your Lights Do?
6 Common Automation Pitfalls to Avoid
Contact Sensors are the Secret Sauce in Many Home Control Systems
The Kitchen is the Center of the Connected Home
Basic Installation Options for Whole House Audio/Video

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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.

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