Hardware Retailing

SEP 2016

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | September 2016 80 Before exploring the products in this category and how you can sell them, there's a whole new set of product knowledge to learn. By general definition, a smart home is a home that has multiple electronic devices, such as a thermostat, security system or an appliance, all controlled remotely by a computer or device, such as a smartphone or tablet. But these aren't just souped-up remote-controlled devices. They are "smart" because they can learn your habits and connect to information from outside sources to make important decisions about controlling some of the functions of your home. It's also important to understand how devices can work together. Similar to the way your smartphone or laptop operates, most smart home devices operate on either an iOS or Android operating system, or both. You can look on the packaging of many of those devices to identify which operating systems they are compatible with. Products from different manufacturers may be compatible with similar operating systems. Ideally, these devices are connected with each other in what is known as an "ecosystem." In an ecosystem, all of the devices are compatible with the same operating system, can be controlled from a single device, and share information with each other. They are all connected by a network, such as through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or special wiring in the home. They also can connect to information outside of the home, such as weather forecasts, to help your devices make decisions. Each smart device often has its own app that allows you to control that device, but a better solution is having a way to control all of those devices with a single app. One great example is Apple's HomeKit. HomeKit allows you to control multiple devices from a single app, as long as they are all compatible with the iOS operating system. When the devices work together, they share information and may even cause each other to perform tasks. For example, another well-known ecosystem is Nest. First known for its smart thermostat, Nest now includes multiple items that work together. For example, let's assume your home has a smart smoke/carbon monoxide detector, a smart thermostat and smart lighting. If the detector senses an unsafe level of carbon monoxide in the home, it sends a signal to the thermostat to shut off the gas furnace. In addition to sounding an alarm, the smoke/carbon monoxide detector also sends a signal to the smart lighting wired into the system to flash on and off to get your attention and let you know something is wrong. It will also send an alert to your smartphone or other device so you are aware of what is happening at home if you are away. What Is a Smart Home? Smart Home Device Ownership U.S. Smart Home Device Market Still has Room to Grow Source: Parks Associates 9% Networked Cameras Smart Smoke Detectors 10% Smart Thermostats Smart Garage Door Openers Smart Door Locks Smart Lighting (bulbs, switches, plugs) Recent research shows what percentage of U.S. households with broadband Internet service own a smart home device. The market for these items is still new, posing an opportunity for retailers.

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