Every major player in the Smart Home industry is doing their own thing and developing smart home products for their existing customers. “Hey, Siri! Turn on the bedroom lights”, I can’t use this phrase in my living room as Echo controls the devices in that room and those devices are incompatible with HomeKit. Smart Home is a US$ 90 Billion market in 2020 and is expected to grow significantly in the next 5 years but we still don’t have a single standard to develop these devices.
It’s like the Wild West in the Smart Home Industry
Let’s look from the perspective of a customer, I buy a bulb that is compatible with Amazon and Google Assistant but it is completely useless if I want to use it with an iPhone unless it is also HomeKit certified. This lack of a common standard gives every manufacturer full control over how they would develop the communication protocol, pairing process, and interface for the device. For example, HomeKit devices come with a QR code that you need to scan to pair a device, A Google Assistant compatible device would have some other pairing method and so on.
Sure there are workarounds to connect incompatible IoT devices and I recently did an article on how to integrate non-HomeKit certified devices to the Home app using HomeBridge but this method is complicated and requires some elbow grease, hence it is counter-intuitive for an average joe to use this method.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have IEEE standards that allow every manufacturer guidelines on how to properly implement the technology on their devices. There is one standard way to connect your device to Wi-Fi and it is exactly the same on every device. I just want that for Smart Home devices.
A Ray of Hope
Connected Home Over IP is a collaborative project that aims to develop a single standard over which smart home devices would communicate. Why do I think it is a great idea? For starters, it is going to be completely open-sourced and royalty-free, second, it would be developed over the existing Internet Protocol. This would make both the development of devices easier and process consistent across platforms. Currently in its infancy, if this project takes off and these companies start using a standard protocol then it would literally unify the Smart Home devices. Win-win for everyone. You can read more about the Project on their website and see which companies are part of it. Right now, Zigbee Alliance is spearheading the project and many major players have signed up to be the part of it. With companies like Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Google, IKEA among many others on board, I can dream of a Smarter future.