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The Influence of the Internet of Things

For this month’s cover story on top selling products of 2014, I asked a question about a technology/product trend that was most surprising to those I interviewed.

For the December cover story on top selling products of 2014, I asked a question about a technology/product trend that was most surprising to those I interviewed. The answers varied quite a bit, and I didn’t have space in the article to include any of them, so figured I’d mention a few here. If there was a micro-trend within the answers, it related to those oh-so clunky words, “The Internet of Things,” or the trend toward affordable internet-connected devices that are designed to simplify our lives.

For instance, Core Brand director of marketing Bill Hensley, answering on behalf of his colleagues, noted their surprise at the increasing number of connected products moving to IP-based control, and more and more connected devices joining the Internet of Things.

“IP control has been around for some time; however, our industry has been mainly serial based, whether it’s IR, RS-232, or serial over IP,” he said. “This year alone, the number of APIs using http or json rather than serial has jumped dramatically. With major drivers like Google and Apple in the mix, we are likely to see more Ethernet ports and fewer 9-pin connectors on the next generation of controllable components.”

Echoing this point, Dave Nauber, president of Classé Audio, said that he was surprised by how quickly the notion behind the Internet of Things “seems to have reached the masses.”

“It will forever change how people in every demographic think about what they can automate and integrate, but also what it should cost,” he noted. “It can mean opportunity for our industry but not without some fundamental shifts in the custom installer’s business model.”

Pakedge is one manufacturer firmly planted in the middle of this trend as it works with integrators to create more robust home networks for an increasing number of connected devices.

“Our dealers understand that in this period of rapid technology transitions, they must adapt and evolve to remain relevant,” stated Benson Chan, VP of business development at the company. “Our dealers are looking for ways to incorporate a managed services offering into their current business model.”

But the biggest surprise, Chan said, was the emergence of Internet of Things devices aimed at a more “downstream” or modest customer base.

“In the not so distant past, many of these systems would have started with the custom electronics channel in the homes of more affluent customers,” he said. “Today, many of these same manufacturers have developed systems targeted at the more modest, middle income customer while other new marketplace entrants are targeting this segment exclusively. The integration of IoT with home automation is already happening and will be accelerating. As this happens, the home network will become mission critical to a whole new customer base. For these systems to work correctly the network will need to be robust, easy to use, remotely accessed through the cloud and scalable for future growth in devices and traffic.”

Sounds like a challenge, but from challenges come opportunities. Happy Holidays.