Just how big is the home automation industry? One way to tell is by looking at the sheer number of companies – large and small—that have rushed to enter this fast-growing space. They include some of the world’s largest corporations – Apple and Google – along with the nation’s biggest cable and telecom companies – Comcast and AT&T. It includes big names in security like Honeywell and ADT. Then there are less known, but fast growing, contenders such as Control4, Vivint, and Interlogix.

Expanding Market

Also trying to muscle their way into this space are the big cable and telecom companies who are attempting to build upon previous gains made through their alarm monitoring business. Comcast through its Xfinity Home business and AT&T’s Digital Life provide their already large customer base with the option of adding home automation services.

“We saw a lot of opportunity for innovation and to bring more value to our customers,” says Dan Herscovici, senior vice president and general manager of Xfinity Home for Comcast. “A lot of the fundamental components of what it takes to deliver and launch a home security system we already had as part of our larger operations. It was a matter of bringing together the appropriate capabilities, delivering an innovative cloud-based security platform, and then delivering that holistic solution to our customer base.”

Comcast expanded the appeal of its service by integrating devices from a host of partner companies and allowing customers to control them using a single remote.

“Those guys are getting into the business and naturally the smart home is a way to further integrate their systems,” says Alper Cetingok, Managing Director, Head of Security, Defense & Government Services with Raymond James, a financial company. “They’re trying to do everything they can to sell as much as they can to one consumer. That drives unit economics for them significantly.”

New players

Joining these players are the technology companies including both startups offering new technology, as well as behemoths, like Google. While best known as the world’s premier search engine, the company spent $4 billion in 2014 acquiring smart home technology businesses including Nest (smart thermostats) DropCam (Wi-Fi camera) and Revolv (smart home platform). Electronics maker Samsung also shelled out $200 million to acquire connected home startup SmartThings.

Comcast expanded the appeal of its service by integrating devices from a host of partner companies
Comcast through its Xfinity Home business and AT&T’s Digital Life are also adding home automation services

Developers were also thrilled to hear that Apple is diving further into the market with HomeKit, which will allow the iPhone and iPad to serve as a remote control for the entire house.

Along with these companies are a growing number of pure-play automation businesses that are now expanding their offerings. Names such as Crestron, Savant Systems, Control4 and other long-time automation suppliers are also forces in the market.

"Everything must be on a common platform including lighting, HVAC, security, AV, shades and more," says Sean Goldstein, vice president of Marketing at Creston. "We enable custom home automation systems to be designed, while empowering homeowners to take control of their home and be able to do fun things such as look at the trends report for their home – their energy consumption, device usage, device failure and more."

 Inflow Of Funds

 Private equity money has also started flowing in the industry as well. Blackstone Group acquired Vivint, a provider of security, home automation and technology services, in a deal worth more than $2 billion.

Another good indication of how big the industry could become is the entrance of players far removed from the technology itself. There is even a one very large paper distribution company that has begun its own home automation solution.

“Yes, there are lots of companies that are moving into it,” says Dave Pedigo, Senior Director of Learning & Emerging Technologies at the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. “There are some companies who are losing focus at what they do well to hop onto this home automation/ internet of things bandwagon. There are tons of different options available. The difference is in the reliability, the performance and the security. It’s not the same on all of these devices.”

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

Author profile

Randy Southerland Special Assignment Contributor, SecurityInformed.com

In case you missed it

Open Options Paves the Way for New Customers in Access Control
Open Options Paves the Way for New Customers in Access Control

For more than 22 years, Open Options, Addison, Texas, has developed access control solutions that connect to leading security technologies to deliver a full-scale solution based on each customer’s unique needs. In 2018, Open Options was acquired by ACRE, which already owned the Vanderbilt and ComNet brands. To find out the latest, we interviewed Chuck O’Leary, President of Open Options. Q: It has been two and a half years since Open Options was acquired by ACRE. Briefly describe that transition and how the company is stronger today because of it. O’Leary: The ACRE transition really focused on integrating our access control solution, DNA Fusion, with Vanderbilt Industries technologies in order to further our reach in the market and enhance our portfolios. With their support, we have been able to accelerate innovations and expand our global reach. Overall, it has been a great experience to be a part of the ACRE organization, and it has opened the doors to new opportunities for us both here in the states and globally.  Q: What is "Connect Care" and how does it benefit integrators and/or end user customers? O’Leary: For those unfamiliar with the world of access control, it can often be a little overwhelming when first introduced; however, we strive to make our products as easy to use and intuitive as possible, with Connect Care being no different. Connect Care is a system that has been specifically designed to create the most connected experience in the security market Connect Care is a system that has been specifically designed to create the most connected experience in the security market. It serves as a 24/7 bridge from our customers to services like technical support, platform support, professional services, and training. By providing these options for our customers, we can better empower them with the knowledge and expertise of our DNA Fusion access control system and ensure their success with the product.  Q: Who are the new customers entering the market for access control systems in the wake of the pandemic, and how should they be approached/managed differently? O’Leary: Over the last year, there has been a huge demand for access control systems as remote work increased due to COVID-19, and even now, as employees and students are heading back into the offices and schools. Organizations are realizing that having an outdated security system is no longer robust enough for the rapid advancement of technology that we witnessed over the course of the pandemic, and really the past few years. For those who are just dipping their toe into a new access control deployment, the most important thing they can do is to search for a provider who has a solution that is easily integrated, scalable, and provides excellent training and resources. Q: Define the term "touchless access control" and explain why it is gaining a higher profile in the post-pandemic world. O’Leary: The interesting thing about access control is that it has almost always been touchless. Many organizations are looking for robust solutions that are touchless and can be utilized remotely, and it's fairly easy to understand why a solution like this would become widely popular because of COVID-19. Integrators are searching for access control systems that will serve as a proper solution for organizationsThe process of using access control to streamline security infrastructures is not a new concept by any means, but due to the rapid development in technology over the past few years, more integrators are searching for access control systems that will serve as a proper solution for organizations, while still supplying the touchless and remote-based features. Q: What do you see as the future course of the changing technology trends we see in today's market (such as mobile credentials, cloud-based systems, cybersecurity, etc.)? O’Leary: As we continue to tread through the different technological developments in the market today, we are noticing that mobile credentials and biometrics are becoming increasingly popular. As cybersecurity and mobility continue to become more important, we are also seeing the rapid jump to the cloud. By utilizing cloud-based systems, an organization is not hindered by a lack of storage or old software and gains the flexibility to scale their security system as their business grows. Q: How will the access control market look different five years from now versus today? What about 10 years from now? O’Leary: Within the next five years, I suspect that access control will continue to make the move towards cloud-based systems and utilize mobile credentials and biometrics. In 10 years, I think all access control will be open platform and many more organizations will embrace cloud solutions for increased functionality. Also, innovations will continue to be the drivers behind new deployments with some installations being biometrics only and include recognizing fingerprints, retina scans, facial recognition, and voice. Q: What is the biggest challenge currently facing the access control market, and how should manufacturers (including Open Options) be addressing the challenge? O’Leary: One of the biggest challenges facing the physical access control market is organizations actually making the shift to more up-to-date access control systems. Organizations are looking to adopt more digital-focused access control experiencesOrganizations are looking to adopt more digital-focused access control experiences — ones that are focused on integration, newer features, cybersecurity, and ease of monitoring. Access control manufacturers should be addressing this challenge by creating integratable, scalable systems that are easily managed and provide a structured, streamlined approach for an organization’s security infrastructure. Q: What is the biggest misconception about access control? O’Leary: Access control is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and some organizations might have different standards or assets that need protection. This is why it's vital to know the risks your organization faces when speaking with access control providers — to ensure the best possible outcome for your specific needs. It's important to remember that whatever access control system is chosen should proactively mitigate any risks, be easily taught to and successfully used by employees, and be scalable with your organization. No matter the line of work, a proper access control system should streamline the security infrastructure and lessen stress on the security team and employees.

Automatic Gates – The Latest Development In Access Control
Automatic Gates – The Latest Development In Access Control

Automatic gates remain an increasingly popular security choice for family homes, business premises or public buildings – anywhere that full control over access is needed. While there is much to consider for installers when advising clients on the right solution for their property, from the size, weight and cost of a gate system, it’s useful to be aware of the latest developments in the market, as this can help to find the right option to fit their needs. The need for speed Gates can be automated to either swing or to slide open, and there are many factors to take into consideration, when advising on which option to use. However, swing gate motors tend to be slower than the speeds achievable for sliding gates, which means the latter are usually more popular, especially for commercial sites where timing can be among the more important factors. One of the most recent developments in the sliding gates market is the introduction of faster motors One of the most recent developments in the sliding gates market is the introduction of faster motors, such as those from Bft Automation, which allow for opening and closing at a quicker speed than has previously been achievable. Fast authorized access control From a security point of view, the ability to allow people and goods in and out of a property at a quicker pace reduces the risk of unauthorized entry, while waiting for a gate to close – an important consideration in both commercial and residential contexts. Other benefits of a faster motor include reduced waiting times. This can be particularly useful for properties in busy areas, where a vehicle could risk blocking traffic, while waiting to turn into a site controlled by a slower gate. Faster motors Also, a faster motor could potentially reduce the risk of an accident from vehicles entering a property at speed. For example, this might happen if someone was making their first visit to a property situated off a fast road in an unfamiliar area. Beyond these practical considerations, in today’s fast-paced world, people aren’t as used to having to wait for things and this applies to the time it takes to get in and out of their own property. So, security benefits aside, faster motors are likely to be more appealing for clients who have sliding gates fitted to their domestic property and who prioritize convenience. The choice of which of the new faster motors to use will be impacted by a number of factors, including the weight of the gates. Essentially, the lighter the gate is the higher the speed achievable. And, as always, it’s important to make sure that any installation complies with safety regulations. Intelligent torque management systems A further development in access control technology includes intelligent torque management systems A further development in access control technology includes intelligent torque management systems, which update the level of torque required to perform the gate’s operation, allowing it to work at the optimum level, regardless of weather conditions, temperature or the degree of wear and tear on the device. Depending on the typical weather conditions experienced at the site and the anticipated frequency of use, it’s worth looking at options that take these factors into account. Importance of security rights In some scenarios, it’s important for particular individuals to have security rights. In which case, there are motors available that come with personalized keys, which are unique, providing an additional level of security. Installers often face the challenge of fitting gate motors in confined spaces, potentially making for a time consuming and technically demanding task. Available space When you only have a small space to work with, simple details can go a long way to helping you. For example, by putting the fastening screws on the front of a motor’s casing, installation and maintenance are easier and more convenient, even in particularly compact areas. Working with suppliers that offer more than just a manual means you’ll have access to advice and support on how new products work in practice and what you need to consider before advising on an installation.

What Are The Security Challenges Of Public Events?
What Are The Security Challenges Of Public Events?

Large public events were out of the question during the depths of the pandemic. However, public events are likely to experience a resurgence along with a more optimistic outlook in the coming months. In addition, there will likely be pent-up enthusiasm for these events among individuals weary from months of isolation. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What are the security challenges of public events planners in 2021?