I toured CES last week, and one of the themes I was struck by was how many companies are duking it out to “run the show” for your networked home devices (by providing the hub that all the devices communicate through).
Most of them use the same underlying wireless protocols (some combination of WiFi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, and/or Z-Wave) to connect to the devices, but as far as I can tell, devices marketed as working with one company’s hub will generally NOT interoperate with the other companies’ hubs. I have personally set up a GE Link lightbulb to be controlled by a SmartThings hub, so interoperability is certainly POSSIBLE, at least in some cases… but it seems like that will not be the general case.
It looks like this industry will be littered with dead bodies (and orphaned customers) over the next two years, while we wait for 2-3 of these systems to defeat the rest of them.
Here are the home-automation connectivity hubs I saw at CES, in alphabetical order:
- First Alert Onelink
- Gigaset Elements
- Honeywell Lyric
- Lowe’s Iris
- Sage by Hughes/Echostar
- Staples Connect (the hub was made by D-Link, but Staples Connect devices won’t work with the D-Link hub or vice versa!)
- WeMo (by Belkin; most of their devices use WiFi and can work with any WiFi access point, but some use ZigBee and thus require a “WeMo Link” WiFi-ZigBee router–currently, they give you a WeMo Link with each pair of WeMo lightbulbs)
Looming over all those home automation systems at CES was a system not on display: Nest. Various systems purported to work with Nest, either now or in the future.
I also saw the Allseen Alliance mentioned at some of these booths… this organization / set of guidelines will supposedly allow devices from different manufacturers to interoperate, but I’m not sure how that will work in practice.