Smart homes for the smart grid


By: SGN Staff


By Gene Wang


The grid has gotten smarter over the last few years, but it has not captured the imagination of mainstream consumers.  Why?  It’s because most people can’t figure out how the smart grid improves their daily lives. 


For example, smart meters were supposed to lower people’s energy bills by giving people feedback.  But a frequently held belief is that they make your utility bill go up.  Most people don’t love the smart grid.


In contrast, the smartphone is now the most popular consumer electronics device, with higher market share than ordinary dumb phones in the U.S.  People love smartphones and use them constantly throughout their day.  I personally get awakened every morning by my iPhone alarm, quickly check my email by phone as the fog clears my brain, check my calendar on my phone before I start my day, and frequently use a GPS app to navigate me to the right place for a meeting, all before making a phone call.  And I’m sure many people do the same things.  Smartphones have been incorporated into the daily habits of people. 


Smart homes to the rescue?

Now finally, the smart home market is poised to take off.  According to Transparency Market Research, the global home automation market is estimated to grow from $17 billion in 2011 to $47 billion in 2018.  But smart homes have been discussed for decades and success is not guaranteed.  I believe many of the solutions being offered today will fail, because they are overpriced and overly complex, under-featured and underwhelming.  And they are closed systems, not centered on the computers we all carry around in our pockets and pocketbooks.  To see the smart home market really triple in size, we need solutions that people fall in love with and use every day.