The smart home should be a natural progression of our living spaces, offering improved appliances, systems, and experiences. However, it has been complex, perplexing, and costly thus far. Walled gardens have stunted innovation since developers are more concerned with getting their gadgets to operate with three, four, or more different platforms than with inventing better goods and new features. Consumers expend much too much effort determining which product works with which and then debugging those connections before giving up on the entire endeavour. As a result, smart home adoption has been slower than many predicted.
What the smart home needs, and has required for some time, is a universal connection standard – a minimum level of common plumbing in our houses through which everything may flow. Just like we picked VHS over Betamax for a superior home theatre experience in the 1980s (and Blu-ray over HD-DVD in the early 2000s), we must choose a smart home standard.
The issue is that there are no two or three standards to pick from. There are plenty, and none of them operates very well on their own. Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth have all attempted and failed to become the major smart home radio technology. However, none have acquired enough traction or provided enough flexibility to integrate into every aspect of the smart home.