I have been lucky enough to speak at some really great events over the last year – sharing my view of the IoT and where I think the industry is going. I recently attended CONNECTIONS in San Francisco, which was exclusively focused on the smart home and energy space – a sweet spot for our team. We took part in a lot of conversations over that week and our biggest take-away – not surprisingly – was that the number and variety of connected products continues to grow and companies continue to try to figure out a good business model to wrap around them. While some businesses have found ways to deliver value and monetize their connected products, others are still searching for a way to make products that will make them money.
Out of all the products at CONNECTIONS this year, there was definitely one that stood out to me — the connected window. Yes, you read that correctly. At first glance, you might wonder why someone would want a connected window. Here are just a few of the reasons:
Incorporating windows into the security story seems to be the most obvious use-case for window connectivity. Traditional home security solutions require adhering a sensor to a window or seam so it can detect when the window is opened. Applying these “old-school” security sensors can be unsightly, unreliable, and expensive. The connected window solves many of these issues by offering sensors that are built in to the window locking mechanism itself. Built-in sensors can allow a user to remotely monitor not only if a window is open, but more importantly, whether it’s locked. Selling peace of mind continues to be an attractive proposition consumers and businesses alike in the smart home market, and connected windows are a great addition to that connected home story.
Windows play a huge role in energy efficiency in both residential and commercial settings. So naturally, finding ways to manage the light passing through windows offers an opportunity to save big bucks on heating and cooling costs. Whereas traditional blinds, shades or tinting are somewhat static options for managing light, connected windows offer a wide range of possibility for dynamic heating and cooling. For example, instead of relying on human action to close a shade, a connected window can connect with a home’s HVAC system and adjust as needed. With windows that can automatically tint darker in the middle of a sunny, hot day, or windows with built-in shades that can automatically close when they detect a room is getting too warm, the energy saving possibilities of connected windows are immense.
On the surface this just might sound lazy, but there are a few tangible benefits to a window that can open and close automatically. Manufacturers that are looking to build automated open/close features into windows are not only looking at residential possibilities, but also at large-scale scenarios, such as a wall of windows that can accordion open at the touch of a button, or out-of-reach windows that can easily be controlled remotely. There possibilities in a larger, commercial context like restaurants or schools, for windows and doors that can open or close automatically including energy savings, time savings, and increased security.
Unlike some products that make you question the purpose of their connectivity, the connected window offers a wide range of possibilities that have an obvious benefit for consumers, from home security to energy savings. The prospects expand even wider once you consider what might be achieved with third party data integrated, such as weather, energy costs, heat index, and more. We are really excited to see how connected windows become a key part of the connected home story.