Organizations Climbing Aboard Home Integration

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What could bring together a diverse assortment of organizations such as Cisco, Sears, Microsoft, CompUSA and the Consumer Electronics Association? Spearheaded by the Internet Home Alliance, a network association devoted to promoting home technology products and services, the Home Integrator Initiative has garnered support from these and other outfits in order to promote public awareness and understanding of home technologies and the role home integrators play in connecting them.

“We have this collaboration across many different industries for the first time to really make this easy for the consumer and the integrator, and that’s really going to move this market forward,” said Tim Woods, vice president of ecosystem development, Internet Home Alliance.


There is a home technology integration certification on the market today, CompTIA’s HTI+. All other things considered, though, this is a vocation that hardly has a status quo to speak of. The lack of generally accepted terminologies and techniques has impeded, but not prevented, growth in this burgeoning field, Woods said. “One of the things that we realized very early on was that there was no standardization of how we even talked about the connected home, and that there was a tremendous amount of fragmentation in the marketplace of people who were actually doing the work for consumers.”


To proliferate products and services, Woods and his colleagues will unite to focus on standardizing the lingua franca and methodologies of home integrators of all stripes. “We’re all agreeing to this certain level of standardization,” he said. “When you do that, not only do the integrators benefit, because now they can have the same taxonomy, but you’re also getting this great message to the consumer through the retailers and bigger vendors. Consumers can go in and ask intelligent questions, and they’re going to get standardized answers. They need that home integrator to be qualified. They need that home integrator to be able to answer questions that are associated with their needs. Once you get certified, the consumer has a baseline.”


In addition, the potential for home integration has not yet been realized because the products have not caught up to the technology. Woods compared the situation to the advent of electricity about a century ago, when the only electrically powered product used in the home was the light bulb. “There were no other products that worked with electricity,” he said. “There were no toasters, vacuum cleaners, stereos or anything like that. Electricity in the home became more and more important as more and more products became available.”


“The exact same thing is being mirrored in this deployment of the home network. Most people just wanted to share a broadband connection (initially). What they’re starting to realize, though, is that there are more and more products hitting the market that are using the network. What is happening is we’re going through a natural evolution. We’re moving from it just being about sharing broadband into multiple uses for the same network. Consumer electronics companies are developing more and more products that are going to utilize the network. As more and more of these options become available to people, this field will just take off.”


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