All the parts to make the smart home of the future are here; virtually every consumer appliance or piece of home electronics can be bought today with smart home technology embedded inside. The question is: How will you interact with those devices in your home? What information do you want from it? How do you want it delivered to you? How much is too much? And, what will you use as your command and control device?
Revolv, an app-based control system that aggregates your smart home apps and makes all devices work together through one unified interface, believes that wearables, starting with the smart watch, are the next logical way to control your home due to their ability to offer precise information on where you are at any given moment. This then allows your house to learn your habits, anticipate your needs/wants, and give you a simple way to either opt in or opt out of automating itself to meet those needs. “We call it the ‘Conscious Home’, says Mike Soucie, co-founder and head of Marketing at Revolv.
Revolv feels a lot like traditional installed automation systems in that it gives the average homeowner automated home features, but is less expensive. According to Soucie, you can go one of two ways. First, there is the installed systems, which take a whole-home approach to automation and include consultations, visits from installers, in-wall panels, and rewiring sections of your house. Revolv users, on the other hand, add devices from consumer brands like Philips, Sonos, Nest, and Belkin one at a time, using the wireless network in their house as opposed to hardwiring. Revolv integrates those devices, allowing them to work together, and uses your smartphone app to control them all. Of course, there are benefits to either type of systems, most of which have to do with price and sophistication.
But while Revolv sits firmly in the DIY camp in which users add devices and apps one by one, Soucie see the problems within the smart home DIY arena. “First is the wide array of protocols the DIY devices use – Wifi, Zigbee, Zwave, Insteon and a few others – that make it complicated to understand which one is right for your house,” he says. “The second is that devices from major consumer brands like Sonos, Nest, Belkin and Philips Hue weren’t designed to work together to fulfill the home automation promise; they were designed to stream music, control temperature, turn on/off plugs, and provide lighting options, but not to integrate with one another. Revolv fixes this by solving the protocol question for the consumer; we don’t care what protocol the device uses, just buy what you want and we’ll solve that part of it for you inside our hub.”
Revolv also gives users a simple way to create scenes in which all these devices work together, like “coming home,” “going to bed,” “date night,” and “party time.” The triggers for these scenes might be based on your proximity to your house, the time of night, the day of the week, or when you tap an icon on your phone… it all depends on how you set them up.
As far as the competition, Revolv sees the world of install-based home automation and DIY smart home as close, but distinct. “The market for the bigger… installed systems is strong and growing,” says Soucie. “At the same time, the market for devices from the major consumer brands is one of the fastest in the consumer electronics sector. Installers win either way, because they now have a viable solution for the customer who doesn’t want a $50,000 system, but still wants a level of home automation that the magazines promise he can have for a couple thousand dollars.”