Opening the Smart Home technology stack

If you’ve worked on smart home or home automation products since year 2000 you’ve probably seen a few ups and downs in market awareness and the most recent up, helped immensely by the IoT (a cooler name for M2M for early investors into machine-machine communication) emergence seems to be growing real wings which is encouraging for all – a rising tide will lift all.

Many people and companies have invested heavily and contributed immensely prior to 2000 but this is from my experience after Y2K.  The potential market is massive so there will be a shortage of innovation and competition in the right sectors as opposed to too much competition – consumers need to have choice.

When we built EyeOnHome in the 2002-2004 time frame the home automation market was a niche market dominated by a few large software and hardware vendors.  The providers built great and envelope-expanding products, for the most part and to protect their business they formed partnerships and created their own technology platforms which worked with selected standards.

Fast forward to 2014 and beyond with the advent of Nest, Dropcam, Lowes and a host of other companies are innovating in a big way and it’s great to see.  Problem is, pretty much everyone is still building their own ecosystems where home owners and customers are tied to a manufacturer for adding and changing devices, services or features.  This is the same old business model and is good FOR THE BUSINESS, but not good for customers.

The EyeOnHome motto and goal was to provide an “open” ecosystem where any “open” device could be plugged in by the home owner without having to change a hub, software, host, or standard.  In order to achieve this we worked on open standards of HTTP and Wifi, no propriatary standards or technology – unless it’s in the device hardware which is fine.  This is why we created the Unified Gateway!

So we had the EyeOnHome project cotton-balled for a few year busy with other projects and REALLY hoping someone else would do a better job of opening up the smart home stash to benefit the “customers”. Unfortunately this is not happening (let me know if wrong).  So we’re working on a redesign and rebrand of the site and tools and hope to release it to the public in the next few months.

I’d love to hear from others who are passionate about the same “unified and open” experience we are dreaming of.

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Startup lessons from Humpty Dumpty!

I watched the movie “Puss in booths” today for second time.  I needed a break from work and a funny movie is always on top of my list for this.

Other that the amazing production of the movie and performance of Antonio Banderas this time I started seeing similarities of Humpty’s life with of startup founders.  As we search for our own “Magic Beans” we go thru many of the same ups and downs.  The idea of believing in something that does not even exist in anyone’s minds and convincing other people to believe in the same dream and go thru one of the most difficult experiences (and rewarding) is what drives us.  These are the traits I identified:

Vision and Dream: Having a clear vision helps enormously in driving to success. Humpty had the exact image of the 3 beans imprinted on his mind and never forgot what he was looking for.

Dedication and Passion:  As he tried different things and each one failed he never gave up on his dream and this passion came thru clear and loud any time he opened his mouth.

Flexibility on the path:  at the same time he was willing to try different paths to fulfill his vision, and got pretty creative in the process.  Not to condone the illegal side but stressing the fact he was fully open and willing to learn and do what was needed to get to his dream.

Planning: as we embark on the road to creating something out of nothing remember the value of planning.  Humpty show us this with his little book prepared and worked over years of obsessing about his dream and living it in every moment of every day.  The important point here is not a business plan per se but the concept of planning.  At the same time too much planning can get to the analysis paralysis state is also detrimental to startups.

Chance of a lifetime:  How we interact and optimize on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities is a very important factor in making it.  I’ve had many opportunities come my way when I was not ready.  In hindsight they always look like lost potentials but if I personally was not “available” for it was it a real opportunity? The planning and preparation along with the obsession about the vision (not the path) has helped me be more available personally when opportunities have surfaced.