Prior research into the field of smart homes, — residences that apply technology to interconnect systems (security, lighting, sensors, heating, air-conditioning, and audio-video) to improve the building environment and functionality while controlling costs — has revealed that consumers want comprehensive connected home systems. To further this research, 10 companies in the systems automation industry recently joined forces to help research the status of the smart home. Under the auspices of Ottawa-based Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) Internet Home Alliance Research Council, Whirlpool Corp., Bell Canada, Cisco, Direct Energy, HP, Legrand, Leviton, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Z-Wave Alliance, and Zensys enlisted Portland, Ore.-based Zanthus, a market research-based consulting firm that serves high-tech companies, to conduct a series of Web surveys to compile the full report, “The 2008 State of the Connected Home Market Study.”

“These companies could certainly conduct this type of research independently, but they recognize that collaboration and conversation are particularly important in this space,” says Ron Zimmer, president and CEO of CABA.

The participants, both primary market consumers — those who adopt technology as products first come on the market, and mass market consumers who wait for prices to fall or to assess a product's popularity before making new technology purchases — were asked about the connected home solutions they own currently, their immediate and long-term home technology wants and needs, their home technology product and service purchasing habits and intentions, and their preferred channels for making and installing smart home technology. The study will also gauge the size of the “chasm” between the two consumer groups in terms of technology adoption.

In addition to evaluating general consumer understanding of the connected home, the study will assess potential products and services and provide trend lines in specific application areas, including music, video, gaming, lighting, temperature control, security, communications/scheduling, health/fitness, and productivity. Some of the potential applications that will be tested include:

Remote lighting control

A homeowner can adjust the home's lighting remotely, allowing travelers to give the home a “lived-in” feel.

Remote temperature control

The home's temperature can be controlled remotely, allowing the homeowner to save on energy costs by adjusting the home's temperature according to changing weather conditions.

Remote video monitoring

Multiple rooms in a home can be monitored via the Internet from anywhere in the world.

The full report is expected to be released to the public in January 2009. For more information about the alliance, visit www.caba.org/iha.