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The Connected Home - A Reality

Intellect

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Welcome to the Connected Home

Welcome to the Connected Home

The connected home is potentially the next big technology revolution. It could dramatically change many aspects of our daily lives. It is a networked home to which multiple services are delivered over superfast broadband. These connected services range from entertainment to education, home automation and security to healthcare, interacting with government and controlling our energy use.

But the connected home is not simply an aggregation of disparate services to the home. For people to enjoy this range of next generation services it needs to be developed as a fully integrated platform.

We predict that with the right actions by a variety of stakeholders the connected home market could be worth £3 billion a year within the next eight years.

However, there are big issues to be resolved before it becomes a reality. The connected home will have to be a single environment where all these services can be delivered but where consumers keep control of the network, their devices and data.

This report sets out a number of recommendations to make the connected home a reality.

Three examples around the House

Three examples around the House

Connected Media and entertainment

The home is no long a place where we all simply sit back and accept entertainment, TV, radio, music, movies, in a passive mode. People increasingly expect to participate in the entertainment and information they have access to.

Key points

  • A real connected home will require superfast broadband
  • The TV will be part of a home network receiving content from many other devices including, streamed movies, readings from smart meters, healthcare information from doctors and hospitals.
  • The rise of social TV – share your views and opinions with friends and family who are watching elsewhere; actively influence the outcome of programmes.
  • Multi-screen TV homes but with the second and third screens on smart phones, laptops and tablets for extra content, information and associated functionality.
  • TV apps based on mobile apps model, provide user centric services based on TV metadata.

Connected energy and smart meters

The UK is already seeing a major roll-out of smart meters for utilities which will send readings direct to the supplier. But this is just a first step. The meters will enable householders to receive pricing information, monitor their consumption and control appliances.

Key points

  • Immediate benefit of smart meters is reduced cost of sending people to collect meter readings.
  • In the longer term connecting smart meters to smart grids will give householders more information and more choice.
  • Householders will be able to control appliances through smart-phone apps.
  • Data from smart meters will be available to be viewed on TVs, laptops or other devices.
  • A techno-legal framework will be needed to protect the privacy of data and prevent identity theft.
  • Householders will need to upgrade to smart appliances to fully benefit presenting an opportunity for appliance manufacturers.

Smart telehealth and telecare

These are services which have the potential to dramatically improve the lives of the 25% of the population who suffer from long term conditions or require support to live in their homes. These services could also deliver £1 billion of savings annually to the health budget. However, there is a need to ensure that healthcare professionals understand the potential on offer and are enthusiastic about these services.

Key points

  • Telehealth brings healthcare into the home, so people can benefit from remote monitoring for things like blood sugar levels or heart conditions, with the data being monitored
  • Telecare can help people maintain their quality of life through such things as lifestyle monitoring or social alarms
  • Both services can significantly improve the quality of life for patients and people in need of care.
  • Significant challenges will need to be overcome to achieve large scale adoption, including standards and acceptance by patients and health care professionals.
  • Exploiting existing home technologies, TV, PCs, and reusing existing networks to deliver these services costs can be controlled.
The Technology of the Connected Home

The Technology of the Connected Home

To be a truly connected home a property will need a broadband connection of at least 6Mbps. Homes with multiple TVs, or PCs will need proportionately more bandwidth. Healthcare services may require low bandwidth but will demand high levels of reliability and availability.

However, there are two major challenges. Creating home networks which the consumer is comfortable with using and connecting the 30% of homes which currently do not have an internet connection.

The home network is central to the connected home to ensure easy interoperability of services and devices. Currently consumers face a mass of different technologies which makes the design and configuration of a home network beyond the scope of most people.

Bricks and Mortar

Bricks and Mortar

Of the UK's 26.2 million homes just over half have a wireless router providing a basic Wi-Fi network. A further 20% have a wired Internet connection but 30% have no connection at all. Creating a home network is a complex project and the cost of retrofitting a concealed wiring solution into existing homes can be prohibitive. For new build properties however a network could be built in during construction adding just 0.2-0.4% to the price of the property. House builders will need to understand the impact this will have at the design stage of properties and the technical issues which will need to be tackled. However, they should also understand the value a network will add to a property.

Funding the retrofitting of a network into existing homes could be done through a remortgaging deal or as part of a mortgage when a property changes hands.

In the future house prices may be influenced by the quality of the technology and services built into a house, eg, security and telehealth solutions.

The Connected Home Consumer

The Connected Home Consumer

If the connected home market is to develop consumers will expect a clear proposition of what it is, how it will benefit them, how it will fit into their lifestyles and how they will use it.

Similarly they will expect a set of standards plus information to help guide them through the buying and set up process of networks, devices and services. Many people will expect the providers to offer a level of expertise to install networks and connect devices as well as educate the consumer on how to fully exploit all aspects of the connected home.

Connected homes will generate increasing amounts of data. There will need to be a discussion between consumers and service providers about a framework which must be developed for the aggregation and use of this data.

The Connected Home Framework

Connected Home Framework

To turn the connected home from an idea into a reality will require a framework which everyone involved can work within, but which keeps the consumer at the heart of the whole experience.

Intellect's proposals aim to bring all the various players together to achieve cross industry co-operation on data and network standards and reduce the burden on the consumer. Security issues must also be tackled to provide a high level of trust and confidence among consumers.

Installation and support companies will require a level of professionalism which is recognised by the industry and consumers. This may involve a 'stamp' of professionalism issued by an industry group.

The framework will encourage all parts of the industry to view the connected home as a single market entity.

Recommendations

Recommendations

  1. Industry and government should establish a connected home forum with representation from all industries with a stake in the connected home.
  2. Industry and government should work together to create an impartial 'Connected Home portal' for consumers, aimed primarily at education and information dissemination.
  3. A standardised certification programme and training package should be created for first level support of the connected home.
  4. The ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) and other watchdogs should liaise with the connected home forum to ensure connected home data, privacy, and consumer protection issues are adequately addressed.
  5. The connected home forum should create a reference network design standard and explore the potential for this to be submitted to the BSI (British Standards Institution).
  6. The connected home forum should initiate an ongoing discussion between the construction industry and technology industries to explore the impact of technology and networks on homes, including house prices and construction materials.
  7. DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) should work with the connected home forum to create an entry level home information pack to be distributed at retailers.
  8. Alternative funding approaches for networking new and existing homes should be explored, such as including the cost of implementing a home network in the mortgage/remortgage.
  9. A connected home standards watch should be created by the connected home forum to monitor standards and advice on potential interoperability issues across industry verticals.
  10. Government, Intellect, and the BSG (Broadband Stakeholder Group) should work with Race 2012 to create an approach to broadband adoption driven by healthcare and entertainment services.
  11. Intellect should play a facilitating role in the connected home space, working across the related technology sectors, to help create the perspective of a single market.
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