The dream of the connected home comes true
(BLOG): June 28, 2013 — Did you forget to shut the windows or is the central heating still running at full swing? There’s no need for a guilty conscience as long as M2M is around to lend a hand. As Jürgen Hase (pictured) says, there’s a brilliant outlook for building automation in machine-to-machine communications.
In the connected home, the thermostat can switch itself down automatically when a window is opened. Examples of practical solutions such as this show that, with the aid of M2M, we can do more than save energy or money. It also shows that the connected home has long been a reality.
Twenty years ago, visions of the home of the future involved robots serving us coffee in bed in the morning and the refrigerator refilling itself automatically, and there have been so many test homes of the future that they could probably make up an entire neighborhood. As with so much hype, it has taken time for the expectations to become a reality, but it now looks like connected ideas for the home are increasingly becoming a part of our daily lives.
The figures quoted by Machina Research analysts would certainly seem to underscore this point. They indicate that in the UK alone building automation sales revenue is set to increase from around EUR 24 million in 2011 to more than EUR 1 billion in 2020. This will be due in part to the increasing use of broadband connections and smartphones.
In addition, however, many innovative technologies, including M2M technology, have become affordable for nearly everyone over time. Today there is an enormous choice of market-ready smart home technology, and mobile network operators (MNOs) can take on the task of bundling this plethora of individual solutions intelligently.
Bringing partners together
Building automation offers mobile network operators an opportunity to position themselves even more firmly as M2M service providers and connected life and work enablers. In the M2M ecosystem they are the link between the many small soft- and hardware providers and the customers who would like to have end-to-end applications from a single source.
Demand for creative, practical, everyday solutions is on the increase. Deutsche Telekom realised this at an early stage and offers manufacturers a global, manufacturer-independent eCommerce platform, the M2M Marketplace, where companies are at long last able to market their products worldwide. In this connection, co-operation arrangements also have an important part to play. Telecommunications providers today can make use of their expertise and their networks to bring partners in the M2M ecosystem together. Deutsche Telekom has launched an international partner programme comprising over 600 companies from around 56 countries.
Home management platform
Bringing partners together is not the only way to deliver genuine added value in the M2M ecosystem. Bundling different solutions of all kinds is another. Deutsche Telekom has now launched the manufacturer-independent home management platform QIVICON to provide this service. The home and apartment management platform links solutions and scenarios offered by partner companies in areas such as energy and security management, household appliance automation, and healthcare management. In the future, different applications will enable us to manage lighting, alarm systems, and thermostats by remote control. QIVICON provides an open standard that all partner companies can use.
Targeted support for developers
Good ideas for the connected home pre-suppose good developers or, to be more precise, giving developers the support that they need. Nobody benefits from developers beavering away at a new, groundbreaking solution that will never have an opportunity to achieve market maturity. That is why mobile network operators must make co-operation easier for developers in the way that Telekom does by means of the M2M Developer Community.
If they are to do justice to their role as enablers, MNOs must maintain close ties with developers and ensure that they have access to the right tools. Deutsche Telekom offers the M2M Developer Community developer packages that bundle hard- and software to enable them to gain access to M2M development. Knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer between developers also has a crucial role to play. Promoting this exchange and helping developers to go to market are two key tasks that mobile network operators must tackle now and in the future.
The connected home offers telecommunications enterprises enormous opportunities. To make full use of them, providers such as Deutsche Telekom will need to continue to promote developers and to expand their building automation services. They will succeed in doing so by means of, say, developer platforms or co-operation with small, specialised providers in, for example, the energy or security sector. Manufacturer-independent home management platforms also have the potential to enable telecommunications companies to gain access to new target groups.
The author is Jürgen Hase, vice president, M2M Competence Center, Deutsche Telekom AG.
Jürgen Hase is a graduate in communications engineering and joined Deutsche Telekom AG in 2011 to head the M2M Competence Center. Within Deutsche Telekom he is responsible for the international M2M business. Jürgen has worked for more than 20 years in the telecommunications industry and in the M2M sector. He also previously sat on the management board of MC Technologies GmbH, was a sales director Western Europe at Keymile GmbH and head of Product Management at Alcatel. He is also chairman of the M2M Alliance.