SmartHome Technology

Waiting for 5G

Waiting for 5G

The drumbeat for 5G is getting louder. By early 2020, we should have commercial 5G deployments, although some are predicting for that to happen that by mid 2019. Since 5G requires a lot of interplay with local governments and some governments can take their sweet time to decide on permits and regulation, mid to late 2020 seems like a better bet. Verizon and ATT are already conducting pilots in a few metro areas.

5G claims 20 times faster download speeds compared to 4G. 20 Gbit/s vs 1Gbit/s. Latency is expected to in 1ms range compared to 30–50 ms for 4G. In terms of connected devices 5G is expected to support 1 million devices per sq km. More details here.

These specs enable these enhanced use cases

  1. Virtual and Augmented Reality
  2. Internet of Things — Smart Homes, Buildings, Fleet Tracking
  3. Ultra low latency and high reliability — Autonomous Vehicles, Drones, Smart Cities

The core wireless technology that enables the enhanced specifications for 5G is use of millimeter wave (MW) spectrum. MW has been chosen to operate at high frequencies (30–300 Ghz). The 5G deployments are expected to use 30–100 Ghz range. MW is super fast, but it’s distance is limited, so it requires antennas that are placed much closer to people and therefore more antennas in a given area. Expect your street utility poles to start sprouting 5G antennas (also called small cells). The chart below shows expected carrier deployments. Verizon has the lead position among carriers for 5G.

ConnectedHome Security SmartHome Technology

The Connected Home – still fragmented!

We are in the age of Connected Homes and Smart Homes.

I was in Best Buy a few days ago and decided to check out all the gizmos and gadgets for the Connected Home. They had a few aisles dedicated to this stuff.

I recall going through a lot of frustration, pain and a huge budget 12 years ago when attempting to put together a system for my home. When we moved a few years ago, I decided to spend my time elsewhere. Anyways, this was an opportunity to evaluate if someone can implement a DIY (Do it Yourself) for a SmartHome.

Takeaway #1 – There is not one stop shop solution or company that provides useful functions in one package at an affordable cost that appeals to the mass DIY market.

Takeaway #2 – Looking at the packages, it seemed that you need some tech knowledge to get any of these installed and especially do any troubleshooting.

Takeaway #3 – Customers will expect a demo area where they can see these solutions in action. Right now, there are too many choices that prevent one from making a easy but informed buying decision. It seemed (rightfully so) that retailers are not yet stepping up a big way to set up these demo zones. I have read about Target having such an area in their San Francisco store.

There may be an opportunity for a Systems Integrator who can take these commercially available solutions and make a meaningful installation package. We could call it SHaaS – SmartHome as  A Service. To enable SHaaS, a number of things need to line up – such as a open common device protocol and a home gateway that can be truly independent. With Amazon and Microsoft releasing an IoT platform, one can envision (may be in a decade or so) being able to roll out such a service.  Amazon Echo seems to have lots of potential to be the central hub in the home, if they can truly get away from focusing on e-commerce as the ultimate goal.

Here is my rough priorities in a connected home:-

  1. Simple security – Alerts me or calls an independent alarm company or my security circle when there is a breach. One company that I have invested in – Kornersafe is shipping a very simple DIY solution in this space.
  2. Smart Temperature (Air and Water) Control of the Home
  3. Home Monitoring / Wi-Fi Cameras
  4. Elder Care Monitoring , for people whose aging parents live alone.
  5. Whole home Multimedia Control and Playback (Audio, Video, Pictures)
  6. Home Safety Sensors to detect moisture inside attics, crawl spaces
  7. Whole Home Lighting Control
  8. Home Access Control
  9. Smart Kitchen

Each of  these systems reside in their own silos that one has to use multiple apps, learn different ways of interaction and pay for multiple subscriptions. Frustrating indeed!   I come to the conclusion that an integrated experience is just a gargantuan task. Our homes and our needs are so vastly different outside the work environment.

Some pictures of the shelves in Best Buy

Smart Thermostats – Nest is first mover and leader in this space. I don’t see an adoption blocker for existing HVAC companies like Honeywell to make their own thermostats smart and controllable from the Smartphone.

SmartThermostats - Connected Home

Lighting Control from WeMo

LightControl - Connected Home

Wi-Fi Security Cameras from many vendors, including NestCam (Nest + DropCam)

Security - Connected Home

Simple Home Security Systems (Canary) Hoping to see Korner in shelves soon.

HomeMonitoring - Connected Home

Home Access (SmartLocks – August ..)

Home Access - Connected Home

Finally, in the eldercare monitoring space, my portfolio company Bevy360 is making progress in taking advantage of latest IoT and machine learning technology to forecast cognitive trends.

Here is to a fruitful Smarthome project!


Do you love your parents?

I am sure that title got your attention. Don’t worry – it’s not the Buzzfeed’s Top 39 reasons why you should love your parents.

I have been working with several current and ex PhD students from WSU to see what we can do to make aging-in-place a better and affordable experience for seniors and their caregivers (daughters/sons/nurses).

The company recently decided to go commercial, armed with IP and test data from over 60 sites. We invite you to the conversation.