Meditation: why home automation Manufacturers Fail

You may know how many new players are coming to the home automation scene with their solutions. But maybe half of them or less stay there. The rest become a history. CEPro gives five reasons of those faults:

  • Too many features – it’s better to start from one automation area – lighting, security etc and then add another one by one.
  • Software-only models – producer doesn’t care about hardware at all.
  • Misguided recurring revenue plans.
  • All IP – ignore others protocols such Z-Wave, ZigBee, X10 etc.
  • Money – spend a lot of money to promote the product and not for product itself.

I agree with those assertions except the first one. IMHO you can produce excellent lighting control system. But you didn’t provide for possibility extending it (on architecture level) it might be very difficult to add security or media functionality. You should design the system as multi-functional from the beginning. Otherwise all extensions will be just patches. Sure, there is no reason to delay with the first release till all functionality will be implemented. It can be done step by step.

Update: New version of this article with answers for some readers questions can be found here.

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    1. eloy paris, 9. July 2007, 22:56

      Hi Michael,

      I disagree with the “All IP” point – these days everything is networked, and the predominant protocol is IP. In my opinion the world would be a much better place if we didn’t have all these different protocols (X10, Z-Wave, etc.) competing and fighting for supremacy and instead we’d have a single, open protocol on top of TCP/IP. I do understand that embedding a TCP/IP stack on a small device is a lot harder than embedding a X10, Z-Wave, etc. stack. However, I do believe that is the direction things should go, if technically feasible.

      Today you must use TCP/IP to transmit multimedia data, and this will not change (the author of the article says “IP is a poor protocol for distributing audio and video throughout the house”. In my opinion he is very wrong on this point). Why not take that one step further and use TCP/IP to talk to your sensors and actuators as well instead of using yet another control protocol? This is what protocol convergence is all about. Let’s just look at how successful the Internet has been.



  • Michael Stepanov, 10. July 2007, 9:27

    I agree that TCP/IP is much appropriate way to talk devices each other. But as you mentioned it’s difficult to put a TCP/IP stack into dimmer or switch. All protocols such x10, Z-Wave etc are developed because of that. But their creators try to have compatibility with TCP/IP. For example, Zenis, producer of Z-Wave, announced Z/IP – protocol which connect Z-Wave and TCP/IP directly. So, this is also right way I guess.

    Regarding to thesis “IP is a poor protocol for distributing audio and video throughout the house” I disagree too. It the best way to stream multimedia content over CAT 5 or WiFi.

  • eloy paris, 10. July 2007, 15:26

    Hi Michael,

    I got a response from the CEPro author of the document that you referenced above. She said she’s putting together a detailed response that will address why she made that comment about TCP/IP.

    I had read the announcement about Z/IP and got very excited about it. Heavyweights like Cisco/Linksys are getting involved, which probably means that TCP/IP may become a reality in the home automation area.



  • Michael Stepanov, 10. July 2007, 18:41

    Hi Eloy, it’ll be good to read her explanations about TCP/IP 🙂 Sure, Z/IP is a good sign that we’ll have one common way for communication of home devices.

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