Exclusive interview with CEO of Connectivity Standards Alliance: What impact will AI have on smart homes?

At the recently concluded AWE 2024 (China Home Appliances and Consumer Electronics Expo), we discovered after a few days of visits and experiences that home appliances are being redefined and a technological update on smart homes is underway.

The wave of AI has swept through the home appliance industry. Hisense has inserted large AI models into TVs to improve picture quality and other experiences, Robam Electric has released its first large cooking model, and Samsung has directly presented the future home appearance of "AI for All".

▲ Alliance member Samsung SmartThings embeds Samsung smart gateway functions into home appliances including TVs, monitors, etc. to build an intelligent and complementary home Internet network.

We see that more and more brands are emphasizing the interactive experience of a smart product in home scenes and different devices. This is especially obvious in Huawei's full-scenario interconnected experience area. The value of seamless switching and collaborative experience in smart homes is much greater than the sum of individual devices.

Whole-house intelligence is not just a collection of technologies, but also a deep understanding of the home. This requires deep integration and collaboration between devices, rather than individual devices working independently.

Aifaner also had an exclusive interview with Tobin Richardson, President and CEO of the Connectivity Standards Alliance (hereinafter referred to as "the Alliance") in Shanghai. Tobin shared with us the latest insights into the changes in the smart home market.

▲ Tobin Richardson.

As early as October 2022, the alliance released a new Matter standard. They united Amazon, Apple, Google and major manufacturers such as Huawei, OPPO, and vivo to allow users to use these different brands of products to carry their own smart homes. .

Two years ago, Ai Faner also interviewed Tobin. He once told us: "The development of smart home can be divided into two stages. The first stage is to connect all devices to the Internet. We have now experienced this stage." , and the next step, "should be to break through the barriers and connect all smart home devices."

And in 2024, how far is the goal of "unification" of smart homes? What impact will the emergence of AIGC have on the industry and users?

How about smart home standards that allow technology giants to "join forces" in China?

If you carefully observe the products on display at this year's AWE, you will find that more and more products support the Matter standard. At present, China has become an important part of the Matter ecosystem. More than 60% of Matter's more than 3,000 certified products and software components come from China.

For example, last year, Lumi Aqara officially announced that the gateway M2 officially supports the Matter protocol standard. Users can connect their devices to Apple Home, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Aqara Home and other platforms at the same time, while seamlessly collaborating between different ecological platforms.

Among mobile phone manufacturers, mainstream brands such as OPPO, vivo, Honor, and Meizu have begun to support the Matter protocol standard. Washing machines and home appliances from Bosch and Siemens have announced that they will have millions of Matter-certified devices this year.

Tobin believes that the consumer demand in the Chinese market is changing faster, so Matter also needs to act faster to adapt to this rhythm, and even set up a special Chinese member group.

We have a team of Chinese members who will focus on the requirements of the Chinese market. We will do two things: First, if there are specific needs in the market that need to be included in the standard, we will work hard to ensure that those needs are included in the standard, whether it is China, Europe or North America. Then we will also promote, support and educate markets in different regions.

However, it is obviously not an easy task to promote brands with different interests, backgrounds and sizes to use the same third-party standard in the Chinese market. This not only involves the balance of interests of various brands, but also the relationship between competition.

Tobin said that Matter prefers to see itself as a unifier rather than a competitor, and it does not exclude other protocol organizations .

We collaborate with several other protocol organizations, and elements of these organizations are important in forming a unified standard. Matter works well with open network protocols such as the W-iFi Alliance, Thread Group, and others. In fact, it relies on these standards to function well.

Will AI make smart homes better to use?

AI large models are undoubtedly the hottest topic in the current technology circle, but in sharp contrast, consumers’ experience and perception in real life are not yet strong. After many manufacturers launched AI mobile phones, they also fell into controversy over whether the AI ​​mobile phones were gimmicks. These problems will not be avoided in smart homes.

Can AI's entry into the smart home market improve the experience? Tobin shared his views with us. He believes that smart homes will go through several different stages, first making everything smart, then making everything connected, then making everything communicate in the same language, and finally AI.

Technology does not follow a linear path of development, all of this happens almost simultaneously. We are witnessing this now .

Tobin believes that AI can play a big role in the home of the future. Especially the ambient awareness feature I mentioned earlier, which runs silently in the background. You just tell the AI ​​or set some rules that run without your knowledge, and it helps you perform tasks.

In such a home of tomorrow, the unification of various devices has become more important. The application of AI on a large number of different devices requires a common "language" to better understand user intentions and proactively provide services. The connection protocol is the language used by different devices in the smart home to communicate.

Tobin proposed a key point for the evolution of large models – data .

Because if you have 20 different protocols, you're going to have bad data that's going to be described differently. An important part of Matter is that it provides common data elements across different devices, which means that large language model AI will benefit from it, and by using these devices, the AI's understanding will be improved.

We all agree that intelligent interconnection is an important factor affecting the smart home experience. In the AIGC era, the unification of connection protocols directly determines whether smart homes are tasteless and tasteless, or the key to improving the experience.

How far is it from the "unification" of smart homes?

In the Chinese market, consumers are becoming more and more accepting of smart homes. A large number of popular smart home tutorials have appeared on Xiaohongshu Douyin. According to data from the China Smart Home Industry Alliance, my country's smart home device market shipments will reach 330 million units in 2023.

However, in actual use experience, the fragmentation of various smart home devices is also expanding with the scale. The standards of different protocols, device compatibility, and some manufacturers privatizing data for security reasons are all significant barriers for users.

Although Matter has achieved some results in China, it still faces many challenges. For example, the different product rhythms of manufacturers lead to differences in the time to access Matter. And some small and medium-sized manufacturers are concerned about the cost of standard protocol certification, although the cost of Matter certification is already lower than many other protocols.

Tobin told us Matter is also looking at how to lower the cost of entry, while also talking to other organizations to see how to make it easier for a company to participate.

The rapid changes in technology require us to break out of the thinking framework of traditional home appliances, examine our relationship with home from a new perspective, explore the interaction between people and the living environment, and explore how to enhance the naturalness of this interaction through intelligent means. and comfort.

Imagine waking up in a home like this, and your living environment has been adjusted to the most suitable state based on your schedule and habits. When you go home at night, the ambient lighting, music, and temperature in your home have been adjusted to the most comfortable state, waiting for your arrival. None of this requires you to issue commands, everything happens naturally because your smart home already understands your habits and preferences.

This transformation, just like the concept of ubiquitous computing proposed by computer scientist Mark Weiser, technology will be ubiquitous and invisible, penetrating into every part of daily life like delicate fibers, making the existence of smart homes become a shadow. , not even noticeable.

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