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Connected-Home Execs Discuss Business ‘Beyond the Living Room’

CE, CI, appliance and energy industry reps, on the future of connectivity

February 9, 2011 By Nancy Klosek
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What makes the connected home a reality today – and what developments lay ahead?

That question, and more, set the tone for the broad range of opinion offered at CEA’s ‘Beyond the Living Room’ panel, an event held during CES and hosted by Control4.
 
Moderated by CEA’s director of industry analysis, Steve Koenig, the panel included: Control4 CEO and founder Will West; Magnolia Home Theater and Magnolia Audio Video COO Steve Delp; Intel’s Shahram Mehraban, of the Energy Segment Marketing & Architecture Embedded & Communication Group; Sony vice president of home A/V Brian Siegel; SubZero vice president of design and engineering Paul Sikir; and Reliant Energy president Jason Few.

Sony’s Siegel led off the discussion, pointing to the 20 million Blu-ray-enabled devices in the market today that consumers are using to access streamed content as an indicator of industry direction.  “Home automation is alive and well,” he said, “but we’re just scratching the surface.”

“It’s been talked up in the past by lots of little companies,” said Control4’s West, “but now, big companies are doing real volume.” Alluding to fellow panel participants not in the CE business, he added, “Two years ago, who would have thought than an energy company would be talking about putting intelligent devices in the home – or that SubZero would be involved in a connected-home discussion?”

Sikir of SubZero noted the “savviness of consumers today – a significant shift. It’s no longer a slow acceptance of the idea that appliances can make life easier, but that they also can be connected to a grid.”

Providing the retail perspective on whether consumers are truly ready to connect their households to a home network, Magnolia/Best Buy’s Delp noted buyers’ “voracious appetite to connect devices. But the onus is on us to make the use case compelling. The days of selling boxes are gone. The real job is to make technology seamlessly work together. We have to get better at explaining the benefits of being connected to them. That’s when adoption will happen.”  As an example of an argument well made by Apple, he related that “75 percent of the people on my flight out here had an iPad. They’ve added this third device because the case was made to them, and it was compelling.”
 

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