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Which automation hubs and devices are available to shoppers?

home automation hub

The Internet of Things (IoT) was the talk of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

IT research company, Gartner, forecast that there will be 26 billion internet connected devices, excluding PCs, tablets and smartphones, by 2020, up from the 900 million sold in 2009. Globally this could generate $1.9 trillion in sales and usage.

Boo-Keun Yoon, President & Head, Consumer Electronics, Samsung Electronics, claimed at CES 2015 that 90 percent of all Samsung products would be connected to the internet by 2017, followed by all products within the next five years.

Samsung highlighted its commitment to the IoT in August 2014 when it purchased home automation technology company SmartThings.

Who is SmartThings?

SmartThings manufactures home automation products, such as the SmartThings Hub which allows the user to monitor and control their home from their smartphone and other connected devices.

SmartThings Hub retails for $99.99 on its own or at $199 for The SmartThings Home Starter Kit; this includes the hub, a motion sensor, presence sensor and open/closed sensor.

home automation hub
SmartThings website 8 May 2015

 

This starter kit will mean users can:

  • Receive alerts when people, pets and cars arrive and leave
  • Receive alerts for doors or windows opening unexpectedly
  • Receive alerts if movement is detected in the home while away.

SmartThings Competitors

SmartThings competitors include Piper and Insteon both of which produce their own home automation hub products.

The Insteon Hub, available at Best Buy for $119.99, is similar in functionality to the SmartThings Hub and requires other devices to be paired with it.

Insteon also has a starter kit which includes a motion sensor and a open/closed sensor, as well as lamp dimmer modules and a water leak sensor.

insteon price
Prices from 5 May 2015

 

The Piper Classic is $8 dollars cheaper, via Walmart, than the competitor start kits. However, Piper products differ from those offered by SmartThings and Insteon.

The Piper Classic has a motion sensor, but also includes a HD video camera which the user can record or watch live from the smartphone app. It also has a two-way microphone that can detect and alert the user to loud noises, while also enabling them to interact with family or pets.

However, the Piper sensors all sit on the main hub, whereas the other home automation starter kits allow the user to choose the location of the motion sensors or open/closed sensors in their property.

Video Camera Devices

Insteon also manufactures its own video camera devices compatible with its hubs.

It offers a standard definition video camera for $79.99. However if a user wants to replicate the functionality of the Piper they would need the high definition video camera, which includes a built-in microphone and speaker which sells for $99.99 on the Insteon website.

SmartThings does not manufacture its own video camera devices, but is compatible with two Dropcam cameras.

Shoppers would have to spend $194.99 (Target) just for the Dropcam Pro, $3 more than the cheapest Piper Classic hub price. The Dropcam has very similar specifications to the Piper as they both have high definition cameras, two-way audio and motion sensors.

dropcom
Prices from 5 May 2015

 

The Foscam Fi8910W video camera is also compatible with the SmartThings hub but requires technical knowledge to integrate; it’s available from $59.99 from Amazon while Target have the highest price at $99.99.

dropcam
Price from 5 May 2015

 

The Piper or Insteon hubs are therefore more suitable for shoppers who wish to have video and audio recording within their homes.

Additional home automation devices

There are many additional products which enhance the level of automation within the home.

Users can potentially pair their home automation hub with compatible door locks, allowing them to lock and unlock any door from their smartphone.

SmartThings list a number of Kwikset and Schlage locks as compatible devices on their website which retail at around at $200, although Amazon has the Kwikset Smartcode 910 on its website for $167.10

kwikset Prices from 5 May 2015

 

According to its website the Piper Classic does not support lock devices and only “supports on/off and dimmer switches and open/close sensors, as well as range extenders”.

The Insteon Hub only supports Morning Industry locks, which sell for a minimum of $75, but this also requires the user to purchase the Insteon MorningLinc RF Doorknob/Deadbolt Controller.

insteon controller
Insteon website 8 May 2015

 

The Insteon and SmartThings hubs can also be paired with other devices such as Sirens, Smoke Alarms and Thermostats. SmartThings list compatible devices that include products from major manufacturers such as Belkin, Phillips and Sonos.

The future of home automation

As predicted by Gartner, sales of home automation hubs and devices will likely increase in the coming years as the IoT is realised. The key to success for manufacturers of home automation hubs will be to ensure their products can pair with as many devices as possible.

SmartThings can already boast that its products are compatible with some big name brands such as Philips, and its acquisition by Samsung leaves it well placed to take a significant share of the predicted explosion in sales.

However, hub manufacturers must be wary of large multinationals entering the marketplace with products of their own. Amazon is already exploring this market with the Amazon Echo.

amazon echo
CNET website 8 May 2015

 

The Echo has inbuilt speakers that connect to Amazon’s Music service and some radio stations. In addition to this it can connect to some Belkin and Philips lighting products.

Currently the Echo is only available from Amazon by invitation only, however if the disrupting retailer make this more widely available and compatible with home security devices, it could become a serious competitor to Insteon, Piper and SmartThings.

Brand View Online Price Tracker: Home Automation

TWICE, a US consumer electronics trade publication, in collaboration with Brand View, tracked the online pricing of Home Automation products from February 23 – March 9 2015.

twice home automation

The information appeared on TWICE.com and in its print edition.

Brand View provides daily tracking of online prices across multiple markets and continents for retailers and vendors. We also track advertised prices in printed circulars and integrate this information with in-store price checks.

Retailers use Brand View products to measure their price position against competitors which enable them to offer price-matching programs. Products tracked include consumer electronics, furniture, groceries, DIY, home-improvement products, health and beauty products, automotive and apparel.

Brand View’s Online Price Tracker appears on an ongoing basis in TWICE and TWICE.com.

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