Updated: Friday, 22 February 2013 08:02 | By Relaxnews

Google wants to help consumers automate their homes

The latest Android operating system appears to contain code to enable home automation. The system configuration files for version 4.2.2 of the mobile operating system reference both mesh networking and something called Android@Home.

Google wants to help consumers automate their homes

Google wants to help consumers automate their homes

Back in 2011 at Google's I/O developer conference, Google demonstrated something called Android@Home. It was meant to be the company's entry into the home automation market with the goal of putting Android at the heart of consumers' home networks. It was going to be able to converse freely with fridges, microwaves, air conditioning systems and front door intercom systems. However, following the big announcement, nothing more was said.

But the new discovery has got tongues wagging. The latest research from Frost & Sullivan, published on January 30, estimates that in Europe alone the market for home automation products and services will be worth €348.2 million by 2017.

Frost & Sullivan believes that the premium market -- like bespoke integrated systems -- will continue to drive the market growth but that new innovations and technologies, such as stand-alone and modular systems will also help to bring home automation to a wider market and reduce overall installation costs.

Reduced costs mean greater consumer reach

Since the introduction of tablet computers in 2010, the market has changed significantly. For example, home automation user interface (UI) prices have fallen considerably. This means one of the key differentiating factors between the luxury and mass home automation systems has almost disappeared. In the past, intuitive UI were almost exclusive to luxury home automation systems.

"Currently, even the most simple home automation system includes an intuitive UI through an application on a tablet computer, at a fraction of the price of a luxury propitiatory UI," explains Frost & Sullivan Environment and Building Technologies Senior Industry Analyst Hammam Ahmed. "This has helped home automation in appealing to a wider customer base and providing the market with a compelling offering at a relatively low price."

As mass market participants drastically improve their systems, the gap between the luxury and mass market segments is gradually narrowing. "Luxury segment participants are expected to continue to reduce prices to cater to a wider customer base, and mass market companies are likely to continue to provide more system functionalities at the existing price," continues Ahmed.

For many, like wearable computing, the jury is still out when it comes to home automation. But when a new technology or technological trend appears to be gaining traction, the best way to decide if the trend is simply a fad or if it is going to become part of daily life is to check if it needs the internet in order to function and then to check if Google supports it or is investing in its future. In that line of thinking, if the latest Android update is anything to go by, the future of the home is clearly one of automation.


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