Bosch’s smart home vision: Broadening market scope through one single platform

Bosch’s smart home vision: Broadening market scope through one single platform
Smart home is one of Bosch’s promising business domains. Bosch has been making aggressive movements toward smart homes by introducing smart home solutions for home convenience, efficiency and security in 2015. In partnership with ABB and Cisco, Bosch delivers a software-based open platform to open doors to smart homes in a broad way. Dr. Thorsten Müller, CEO of Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions talked about strategies, new product portfolios and observations on smart home markets. 

Q: Bosch is a leader in the commercial security industry. Please introduce your strategies and action plans toward the booming home market.

A: The largest barrier for adoption of smart home technology is the lack of interoperability among different products. There are lot of connectivity standards like Z-Wave, ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Low Energy and DECT. What customers really want is not the specific standard, but the interoperability among those devices. We are trying to offer a unified and open platform to achieve connected life.
We closed the deal to acquire the 50 percent equity stake in BSH Home Appliances Corporation (BSH) to make the company a 100 percent Bosch company since 2015. It’s one of the cornerstones of the smart home technology for Bosch. With Home Connect technology and the app launched last year, home users can control and connect different branded home appliances through one app. They will benefit from a more convenient and comfortable lifestyle by managing everyday chores with ease.
The other cornerstone is the joint venture with ABB and CISCO. The joint venture goes international in a broad way, not for Germany only. We opt for open standards to partner with other parties in the ecosystem—I think that’s the way to go for Internet of things. We are forming a joint venture to realize true interoperability from the cloud end. This joint venture is all about software, and responsible for back-end cloud services. Each system here transverses with its own server, and the servers are interconnected. User can interconnect with overall systems by smartphones, tablet PCs or any mobile devices.

Data security is an important issue when talking about the cloud service, especially to Europeans who are sensitive to privacy issues. All of our devices provide M2M data security, and we have in-house software engineers for that. Regarding data privacy, our customer can decide which data he wants to share with Bosch and which data he wants to keep private.
Regarding business models, we do it in a B2B relationship by offering products under Bosch’s or customers’ labels. We offer not just sensor modules, but also ready-to-use devices for consumers.

Q. As a leading micro-electrochemical system (MEMS) supplier, do you see the development trend from the component side?

Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions was founded at the end of 2013. Our role is to provide connectivity components to the whole Bosch group to make our products interoperable. The sensor technology is our core. We leverage our competencies in electronics, sensor technology and software to enable new business models for global markets with innovative connected devices and tailor-made solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT). Moreover, the wireless networked smart sensors with embedded software are considered the enabler for the IoT. We believe Internet of Things (IoT) drives MEMS sensor proliferation after consumer electronics.
For example, we launched one of world’s first environmental sensors called BME680 combining pressure, humidity, temperature and indoor air quality sensing functions at the CES this year. The component is applied for indoor microclimate adjustment that can be a big market to watch.

Q: Bosch launched a Z-Wave home security system. Does Bosch support specific standard for home products?  

A: We are open to every standard that our customers want. Therefore, our solutions support Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, ZigBee, BLE, GSM and LoRa, a new connectivity standard developed by Semtech. Though our smart home products support both wired and wireless standards, we opt for wireless one because it’s much easier for the retrofit installation. Home users are not building the house. Also, going wireless is a much easier way to connect things.

Q: Which application is the most promising?

A: From my perspective, it depends on the geographic area. Europe is one of the main drivers for smart home from my perspective. In Europe, energy saving, green technology, that’s really what our German customers are asking for. The German government will shut off all nuclear power plants, and targets to have 80 percent of renewable energy by 2050. We offer a smartphone-controllable solution to combine the photovoltaic and heat pump system for home users to improve the energy efficiency and do energy management.
But if you look at the North American market, the market demands are different. From my perspective, security and convenience are two major drivers. In Asia, if you go to Beijing, air quality is a big issue. In addition, home entertainment is a big thing for the US and Asia markets.
That’s also the reason why our company now opens offices both in Chicago and Shanghai because we really want to have a global reach, and don’t just think about Europe. We want to have a balanced geographical outreach in sales, marketing and production.

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