Vendors will tell you that the Internet of Things (IoT) is here today. We’re here to tell you that it isn’t.
This is your warning label. It’s the small print on the prescription that outlines all the nasty complications.
The first thing to realize is that many wireless communications protocols that allow home devices to exchange information aren’t interoperable.
Second, installing a home automation system will likely require investments in bridges, which are separate pieces of hardware that connect with home routers. But in time, this may be an unnecessary expense.
Third, the market is filled with vendors taking shots at one another’s wireless technology. There will likely be some disruption as protocols are sorted out and settled on.
Behind the scenes, groups and vendors are promoting a range of machine-to-machine wireless communication protocols, including Z-Wave, ZigBee, Insteon, Bluetooth Low Energy and new arrivals such as the Weightless standard. These are protocols that enable devices, light bulbs, thermostats, door locks, wireless speakers, security systems, lawn sprinklers and sensors of all kinds to talk with one another.
Features these wireless protocols all have in common are low energy and low bandwidth requirements, the goal being to extend battery life for as long as years. Most use mesh networks that enable devices to pass signals to one another, extending network range, reliability and redundancy. Wi-Fi is a big part of this, too, and cellular technology will be as well. Each has role to play in connecting things.