Sales boom for IoT devices in 2020. The real challenge for them to become home wellness tools? Making sure that they talk to each other, says Mattia Cerutti, head of the IoT Lab at the Milan Polytechnic

Sales for home-dedicated IoT devices have been growing in 2020. The danger, however, is that of accumulating a large amount of them that do not communicate with each other and therefore disregard the development of an integrated home automation system, the only one capable of responding to the requests of an increasingly advanced user. We talked about it with Mattia Cerutti, head of the IoT Lab del Politecnico di Milano, who has always worked on the integration between the systems of the different brands.

The 2020 market data of the Internet of Things Observatory of the Politecnico di Milano confirmed that the new centrality that the home has gained during the health emergency has favored the sale of some smart solutions, while others have been penalized. Security solutions – which include cameras, sensors for doors and windows and connected locks – maintain the first place by market share (21%) with 105 million euros, but mark a decrease of 30% compared to 2019. of arrest is also highlighted by the consumer, who still indicates safety as the first reason for buying a smart object but with a decrease of 9 percentage points (from 36% to 27%). Instead, the growth of smart home speakers continues, which hook security solutions in first place, with a value of 105 million euros (+ 10%), equal to 21% of the market, but only 14% of smart owners. speaker uses them to manage other smart objects in the house.

Vacuum cleaners and connected air purifiers, the new entries

Household appliances represent 20% of the market (up 17%), characterized by an expansion of the 'connected' offer and with some types, such as robot vacuum cleaners and air purifiers, which have marked a boom in sales. The use of smart features by consumers is also growing, accounting for 59% of those who own large and small appliances (+ 19%). Boilers, thermostats and connected air conditioners for the management of heating and air conditioning benefited from the incentives of Superbonus and Ecobonus, marking a growth of 15% with sales of 75 million euros, equal to 15% of the market.

Home automation is still a world of objects

“The world of smart homes”, explains Mattia Cerutti, head of the IoT Lab at the Polytechnic of Milan “it is still characterized by a user experience that is fragmented and this also hinders an optimal adoption of the many solutions available. Most of the negative effects that characterize the domotic spaces are due precisely to the lack of interoperability between the devices and existing systems. Often these solutions are interoperable only within the brand they belong to”.

“The interdepartmental IoT Lab of the Politecnico di Milano, of which I am responsible”, continues Mattia Cerutti, “combines the skills of the Departments of Management Engineering and Electronics Information and Engineering, and collaborates with the IoT Observatory working on systems integration. Open Lab Smart Home is a consortium initiative that involves several partner companies of the Observatory with the aim of building an ecosystem for the smart home made up of devices from different manufacturers, capable of enabling advanced use cases, supporting many of the our daily activities”.

Beyond the gadget effect, towards interoperability

“Our job is to overcome the gadget effect’ that unfortunately many smart home devices experience”, continues the head of the IoT Lab of the Politecnico di Milano. “We all buy many devices but once the novelty effect is over we put them aside and if they continue to work they do so in a separate mode and not integrating into a common system”.

In 2018, the activity of the laboratory team had seen the development of seven use cases that aimed to enable different areas: safety, comfort and personal assistance services. The research continued and last year the IoT Open Lab changed its format. The laboratory was open to students and a Hackathon was created in collaboration with partner companies. An event attended by experts from various disciplines of computer science: software developers, programmers and graphic designers.

“We have been working on new use case”, says Mattia Cerutti, “One dedicated to supporting parents in smart working; an assisted living solution for children. Through video cameras, smart sockets and volumetric sensors, areas of the house can be secured. The second use case is a new access control and monitoring system designed for buildings”.

New players and services are entering the market

Concludes Mattia Cerruti: “In the last year we have witnessed the arrival of new players and new initiatives, the collaboration between manufacturers of systems for smart homes and smart cars, which opens up new and interesting scenariosScavolini has integrated Alexa into its new kitchen Dandy Plus. It is undeniable that voice assistants are one of the most effective home automation integration systems (the other two macro areas are those of Cloud to Cloud and multi-protocol Gateways enabled by applications). But the new frontier is that of services. Together with the security system the companies sell the rescue of the footage. Together with the thermoregulation systems, fault detection and assistance services are offered, as well as performance monitoring and energy cost management. Many companies, and not only in the technology sector, offer telemedicine and remote assistance services. And last but not least, in the field of fitness, and also through smart watches, personal training programs or the monitoring of wellness programs”.