As consumers have an increasingly bewildering number of choices of “smart” devices for the home, they are faced with a fundamental decision. It is between to install them on a do-it-yourself basis and deal with the challenges of integrating them, or hire an installer offering a holistic system like Control4, Crestron, Savant or AMX, the latter owned by Stamford-based Harman International Industries.
“The smartphone opened up the whole gamut,” said de Terlizzi, director of marketing and sales at County TV & Appliance, which in 2014 won an award from the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Fairfield County for its “smart home” showroom in Stamford. “We have a lot of people who we educate that have been longtime customers of ours. As their homes and needs evolve, they come in here.”
Internet-enabled devices are flooding onto the shelves of home goods retailers and contractors faster than even devotees of Popular Mechanics or Wired can keep up. Upstarts like Nest Labs and DropCam (both now owned by Google), Hue and WeMo are elbowing onto shelves and end caps alongside household brand heavyweights like Fairfield-based General Electric, Honeywell or First Alert.
“There’s a reason you pay extra to (install) things like that— it’s all tying back to how stable and enterprise-grade it is,” said Kevin Vallerie, owner of Untangled, a connected-home integration company in Wilton that installs Control4. “Especially the larger homes we deal with … people say, ‘I don’t want to have to constantly be calling for service —let’s do it right the first time.'”
Gartner Inc., a Stamford-based company that analyzes high-tech trends, estimates that the affluent could have 500 connected devices in their homes within seven years, from the smartphones that proliferate today to any number of devices. Internet-enabled devices are emerging not just in game consoles and TVs, but increasingly appliances such as washing machines, vehicles, security controls, medical and fitness equipment and, now, wristwatches.
If you can plug it into a wall outlet or battery charger, then you can plug it into the Internet for remote or automated control, reasons Nick Jones, a vice president with Gartner.
“We expect that a very wide range of domestic equipment will become ‘smart’ in the sense of gaining some level of sensing and intelligence combined with the ability to communicate, usually wirelessly,” Jones stated in a Gartner report on the trend. “More sophisticated devices will include both sensing and remote control functions. Price will seldom be an inhibitor because the cost of … enabling a consumer ‘thing’ will approach $1 in the long term.”