How smart homes are the next frontier for independent IT providers
Go beyond supplying services for small businesses and get ready for the explosion in home connectivity and intelligent devices that is already underway
The smart home used to be more science fiction than everybody’s domestic experience, with only rich early adopters able to afford the technology. But the rise of connected heating, smart speakers and video doorbells has begun to bring smart homes into the mainstream. While connected capabilities are increasingly something people want for their houses, they are still far from being a service you can just buy and plug in. This is opening a new opportunity for independent IT providers.
When you are having problems with your electrical wiring, an electrician can help you solve them. There are specialists for your heating and your alarm system. You call in a builder to fix your roof tiles. The smart home is a new domestic frontier that presents a different set of puzzles to solve that are more suited to an IT professional. Skills that have been built for servicing small businesses and for limited-time contracts potentially have a new outlet with consumers looking to add connected features to their house.
According to figures collated by Statista, there were nearly 259 million smart homes worldwide in 2021, equating to 12.2% of domiciles. The market is now a huge $99.41 billion. In other words, this is already a lucrative area, but there are still hundreds of millions of homes worldwide that could benefit from becoming smart, so there is plenty of room for expansion. A survey by Smart Home Week revealed that 57% of UK homes now have some sort of smart device, but that is not quite the same as being a smart home. According to YouGov, only 8% of the 27.8 million homes in the UK have two or more smart devices, equating to 2.22 million residences.
This leaves a lot of homes clearly interested in what smart technology can bring to their accommodation, but who haven’t taken the next step towards a more sophisticated setup. In fact, industry insiders reckon the growth could be as much as 37% over the next five years. But these newcomers also probably won’t have considered the key foundational element of a dependable, feature-rich smart home setup. This is where an installation specialist can help to make these customers’ journeys towards smart home nirvana as seamless as possible.
The cornerstone of a smart home is ubiquitous networking, and in most cases that means Wi-Fi. We’re not talking here about Wi-Fi that just about reaches remote parts of a building to provide a trickle of data, but reliable wireless networking that can provide dependable throughput to all the distributed devices that make up a smart home system. The categories here are constantly expanding. The most likely first steps will be smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa or SmartTVs that bundle streaming video facilities with additional features. These are now being joined by wireless cameras, which can enable home surveillance at a much lower price than previous dedicated CCTV systems. Then there are heating controllers, enabling dynamic per-room adjustment of temperatures, and connected light bulbs. More categories of device are arriving, placing the smart home firmly within the realm of the Internet of Things.
Strong, dependable bandwidth is an essential underpinning, particularly for devices that provide video-related services. But you also don’t want, for example, your heating controllers to drop off the Wi-Fi just when you’re sending a signal to turn them on ready for your return home from work or holiday. As the number of devices on the network goes up, the domestic Wi-Fi needs to be able to cope both with bandwidth hogs such as video streaming and the proliferation of devices wanting a persistent connection, even if many of these have more frugal data throughput needs (such as a smart lightbulb).
If you’re an IT support and installation specialist looking to offer services to this kind of customer, your most effective way to ensure the system that you are setting up for your client will operate as planned is to provide a rock-solid Wi-Fi basis. Simply relying on the wireless router that came with the domestic broadband won’t be enough, particularly when you want to ensure that the WLAN reaches every nook and cranny of the residence. Wherever smart home devices are placed, you want them to be able to deliver the services the customer wants to enjoy – from a smart doorbell to the radiator controller in the loft conversion.
Aruba Instant On takes smart home Wi-Fi to a new level, delivering business-grade wireless networking to a domestic environment. The AP11D Instant On system leverages mesh networking with six access points that can be strategically placed around the home to deliver Wi-Fi comfortably throughout a 1,000 square foot space. It can even provide connectivity to outdoor devices – such as an external surveillance camera, or a car in the driveway downloading an over-the-air firmware update. The AP22 takes this a step further by using the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology to deliver enough bandwidth for the largest video streams and file transfers.
The set up and control of either Aruba Instant On system takes place via the Aruba Instant On app, which enables configuration in a matter of minutes. Whether your clients are working from home, gaming or looking to support a plethora of smart home devices, Aruba Instant On will deliver the perfect environment. The app allows customers to directly operate their heating, locks, lights, audio devices, streaming, smart speakers with virtual assistants and even fridges, either while in the house or remotely.
Connection to smart TVs, SkyQ boxes, and gaming consoles as well as all smart home devices is seamless. If you want to deliver a smart home experience to your customers that just works and helps them realise the full potential of the connected residence, Aruba Instant On has what you need. It can turn you from an IT specialist to a smart home guru, ready to take advantage of the massive growth expected as this market explodes over the next few years.
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