In episode 63 of the IoT for All Podcast, Ryan is joined by Hayden Cohen, Director of Events & Partnerships at IoT For All, to talk about Z-Wave and the smart home market with Mitch Klein, the Executive Director of the Z-Wave Alliance. Mitch shares some background on Z-Wave, how it differs from other options for smart home connectivity, and speaks to some of the obstacles and drivers affecting the smart home landscape on the whole.
Mitch is a 30-year industry veteran in IoT, consumer electronics, home automation, and integrator market. As the Executive Director of the Z-Wave Alliance, he leads a member consortium of over 700 global companies supporting the Z-Wave smart home standard.
To start the episode, Mitch spoke to what exactly Z-Wave is, how it allows devices to communicate, and how it benefits both companies developing smart home devices and consumers looking to equip their home with connected devices. He spoke to its benefits over technologies like Zigbee and Wifi, and shared some use cases where Z-Wave really shines.
Mitch also spoke to the Z-Wave Alliance’s recent announcement that they would be opening the Z-Wave Network Layer and communication protocol for the Z-Wave specification, enabling new manufacturers to build and distribute chips enabling devices to leverage the Z-Wave technology. Besides removing Silicon Labs as the sole source of Z-Wave silicon chips, Mitch said that the change would allow Z-Wave technology to be applied to more verticals outside of the connected home market.
Switching the conversation to the smart home market as a whole, Mitch spoke to some of the greatest drivers and obstacles facing smart home adoption. One of the biggest drivers, Mitch said, was what he called “hero products,” for example, Amazon and Google’s voice assistants and the Ring Doorbell and Nest Thermostat. Whereas previously the only way to get smart home devices into the hands of consumers was through professionally installed security systems, hero products allowed consumers and homeowners a low-barrier-to-entry introduction to smart home devices and services.
Among the biggest barriers to adoption, Mitch said, were consumer privacy and security concerns and confusion about what smart home devices actually do and how they work together. Figuring out which devices are compatible, what they do, and how to install them is simply more work than most consumers are currently willing to do.
To finish out the conversation, Mitch said some of his thoughts on the near future of the smart home industry, post-COVID-19, including the current growth in consumer interest and the potential for component shortages as operations in many factories grind to a halt.
Interested in connecting with Mitch Klein? Reach out to him on Linkedin!
About the Z-Wave Alliance: The Z-Wave Alliance is a member consortium of over 700 global members and over 3200 certified products, supporting the popular Z-Wave smart home protocol.
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Key Questions and Topics from this Episode:
(01:41) Introduction to Mitch Klein
(03:51) Introduction to Hayden Cohen
(04:11) Introduction to Z-Wave and the Alliance
(07:25) What is Z-Wave?
(08:04) How does Z-Wave compare to Zigbee?
(13:34) Are there specific use cases where either Z-Wave or Zigbee excel?
(15:43) Last year, the Z-Wave alliance announced that they were opening the Z-Wave Network Layer and communication protocol for the Z-Wave specification. What does this mean for the smart home market?
(16:39) How do you incentivize other manufacturers to build for Z-Wave?
(19:44) What do you think will be the biggest contributors to successful adoption in the smart home space this year?
(22:41) How does consumer education play into smart home adoption? What other barriers are there to adoption?
(26:23) Do alliances like the Z-Wave Alliance work at all with big players in the ecosystem to address consumer concerns?
(29:01) At what stage in development should companies look to make changes to support market growth?
(34:38) How do you foresee COVID-19 affecting the smart home market long-term?