Smart home redefined: What is a smart home control system in 2021?

The means and methods of home control are rapidly evolving, diversifying, and unifying all at the same time. Both Amazon and Google are leveraging the new Matter interoperability standard to expand home control capabilities of smart speakers with enhanced, local, device-to-device control in addition to cloud-based communication. Apple recently announced adoption of the Thread wireless protocol for Apple TV hardware as well as the new unified Matter standard for the next iteration of iOS15 updates to HomeKit, opening the door to control potentially thousands of devices from a smartphone with no traditional hub hardware at all.

Additionally, Roku has announced intentions to leverage its streaming media players for smart home control, while UEI recently launched Nevo Butler, a white-labeled, far-field voice control device enabled by a cloud-based home control platform for both entertainment and smart home control.

All this progress is building on prior innovation that has transformed smart light switches (Brilliant), thermostats (Ecobee), and even USB drives (Ezlo) into home controllers. We’ve come a long way from traditional home control systems defined by a plastic box of hardware such as a pro-installed or DIY home control hub, or an interactive security panel. So, what is a home control system today?

“The better question is a more practical one,” remarked Brad Russell, Interpret VP. “What does (could?) a home control system look like to the user and what experiences do they expect (need?) it to deliver?”

Most consumers just want stuff to work together. According to Interpret’s Smart Home Matrix™, 50% of first-time owners of a smart home device want their next smart home purchase to work with their first. This preference has jumped substantially in the past year alone. Additionally, 47% of device owners have two or more devices that are already connected to one another. For the smart home segment, the notion of “home control” has evolved to a point where you might as well forget your old definitions of what a home control system is or how control must be achieved to “fit” the old definitions. Moreover, redefinition may require dumping your old data and disrupting your trend lines, but then what good is a trend line that misses a huge chunk of the market?