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INSIGHTS

Honeywell’s smart home offers delightful automation and security

Honeywell’s smart home offers delightful automation and security
Honeywell has been focusing on homeowners and the things they truly care about since its establishment 100 years ago. The company concentrates on what the homeowners want and need— comfort, security and a peace of mind with its technology.
Honeywell has been focusing on homeowners and the things they truly care about since its establishment 100 years ago. The company concentrates on what the homeowners want and need— comfort, security and a peace of mind with its technology. Seeing 2015 as a fast growing year for the smart home market, Honeywell explained its design philosophies and market strategies in embracing sizzling business opportunities.

Honeywell launched its Lyric thermostat to enter the smart home market last year. The company showcased a professionally-monitored security system as an expansion of its Lyric family of connected home products at CES2015. The new addition, to be launched in midyear 2015, consists of a control panel called Smart Controller, keypads, key fob, siren, and supports a range of security sensors —smoke, motion, glass break detectors and door/window contacts. The home security, safety and comfort products are core elements for home automation. 

“What we know from talking to consumers for decades is whether they are comfortable being safe and secure in their home. Most of them start by thinking about how to solve issues such as safety, comfort and security. They don’t start by having a hub because it doesn’t do anything. People always consider a connected thermostat, a core comfort product, first and how they will expand from there. Most people don’t think of connected home broadly, they instead think of one thing that solves a specific need,” said Jeremy Eaton, President of Honeywell Connected Home at Honeywell.  
 

Design philosophy 

From a design standpoint, ease of use is the key. “It has to be comfortable and easy to interact with the systems, or consumers will not engage with the technology,” said Eaton. He added, “What we’ve learned from talking to consumers is that easy-to-use solutions are what they want because home automation can be so confusing. If they have to learn how to interact with the system, it can be very frustrating. If it’s too hard for consumers to use, there will be barriers to getting what they want,“ said Eaton. 

Honeywell’s smart controller features Smart Action based on a trigger, being operated through the panel, smartphone or voice control. It uses voice control to make things easier. Uses can simply say “bed time” to the panel, and then the door is locking and light goes off. Eaton indicated that the combinations of smart actions aren’t about technology or gadgets, but more about what people are doing in your home, and how they want their homes to respond to what they are doing. “All this technology is pointless unless people find it easy to use, and can improve on things people care about – being comfortable, safe and secure,” added Eaton.

Besides ease of use, the company designs its products with the same look and feel as well as interoperability. For example, the look and feel of its thermostats represents a very consistent design language. Honeywell makes sure that the apps, the products, the physical and digital designs have seamless interaction across its products. Its products all work through a single app and function. 

One of Honeywell’s emphases is to make all of its connected thermostats compatible with as many hubs and kit systems as possible. “We work with Zonoff, Wink, SmartThings and Apple’s HomeKit. Besides, we have an API that allows third parties to interact with our thermostat,” said Eaton. 

Eaton indicated that it’s hard to learn people’s patterns because modern people are busy and fairly unpredictable from its consumer research. The company focuses on location-based services on a smartphone. Like Lyric, the key feature of the product is that it uses the smartphone to know whether users are home or away, helping to save money by controlling energy-efficiency. It uses none-precision based location service found on the smartphone. This application has become extremely popular recently because as opposed to precision-based location that GPS uses, it doesn’t drain your battery. Eaton explained, “Lyric is basically about life in tune. It’s about busy families and lifestyles. In short, Lyric is carved out to make your home life easier and smarter, and that is what we are doing.”
 

What do consumers want?

Honeywell, a leader in the professional installation market, focuses on the security side. Eaton thinks the smart market is more mature on the individual connected devices like connected thermostats. But with regard to connecting all the devices together, it is still at its infancy. “This is why we are very excited about the professionally monitored connected home system because it basically solves the problem for the consumer, where a professional installer can do everything for them,” said Eaton. 

Its smart controller supports both Wi-Fi and Z-Wave standards. Its detectors, sirens and sensors support Z-Wave and low-powered proprietary RF technology based on 6LoWPAN, including third-party’s solutions. Eaton said, “In home security, in particularly North America, Wi-Fi is needed to get to the router and get out to the cloud. Z-Wave is currently the preferred standard for home security. However, we consider all communication protocols and are constantly evaluating which ones are suitable for our consumers.” 

Automate home in comfortable way

In North America, there are multiple ways to get comfort products. Consumers can get it from retailers and install it themselves, or they can buy it and have a professional installer to get it done. There is an option to buy online as well. “In the comfort area, it’s really driven by how comfortable homeowner is with the installation. If they are comfortable with it, then will buy it themselves and then put it in. However, many homeowners prefer to have it done by professional installers,” said Eaton. 

The company believes the professional installation market still plays an important part for the high-quality home comfort products. As a market leader of smart thermostats, Honeywell provides the broad portfolio of connected thermostats on both professional installed and retail markets to stay competitive, and to serve different market segments. He added, “Our thermostat is designed for professionally installed system. That is where the majority of home automation is happening right now. However, there is a lot of activity in DIY. Therefore, our thermostats are compatible with HomeKit as well as WatchKit.
 

Europeans eye on energy and comfort products 

In Europe, home owners have different equipments from the temperature control side. “We have a solution that allows users to control each room individually because they have radiators. We tie that system together so in the app every room can be individually controlled which deliver significant energy savings as well as comfort,” indicated Jeremy Peterson, GM of Honeywell Connected Home

When it comes to security, there is a significant difference. “The thought of monitored security to Europeans doesn’t really resonate. So, a very small percentage of homeowners have monitored security system. Instead, what they tend to think about is the blinds and shutters that are on the outside tend to be metal, which act as a security barrier. The people that rent flats or apartments do want security. It allows homeowners to monitor the windows and doors in a simple way, including text alert notifications,” said Peterson. 

He added, “In the UK, they tend to have systems that have alarms on the outside of the building. So, we have big alarm bells at the doors which alert neighbors of any intrusion. In Europe, the alarm systems are designed more for apartments. It’s growing from the alarm system standpoint.” For Honeywell, North America is still the largest market of intrusion alarm products. The comfort and energy saving solutions are more popular than the security products in Europe now. 

Cloud service adds value

Honeywell offers cloud services to home users and contractors. Through data collected from connected thermostats, Honeywell is able to see how the system is performing, and provides that information to the contractor. Therefore, the contractor can do a better job of servicing and maintaining homeowners. Its professional contractors can thus offer a higher level of service to the homeowner. 

In addition, Honeywell works with utilities. The company uses connected thermostats to deliver energy-efficiency and demand response for the benefit of the utility. There is an incentive that the homeowner gets, such as rebate, free equipment, or other financial incentives. So if the homeowner agrees to participate in the home energy-saving program that is enabled by the connected thermostat, they will get some sort of incentives in doing so. 
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