Interview with Ahraaz Khan, Marketing Leader, Connected Living Solutions, Honeywell Building Technologies, India
Why is home automation still not mainstream?
Even though the home automation market in India has moved in an upward growth trajectory over the last five years, it is still not a widely adopted practice in India. The slow acceptance of home automation practices can be narrowed down to the below-mentioned factors:
- Solution which is easy to adopt
- Single platform for unified customer experience
- After sales service
- Concerns over data privacy
Which devices are most commonly controlled in a smart home?
With amplified connectivity needs of consumers, connected products with focus on remote connectivity to increase functionality are gaining momentum in India. Home automation features such as curtain controls, mood lighting and auto load shut off are also getting sold more than ever especially among customers with high willingness to spend such as HNIs and millennials. Even electric switches are getting smarter with remote access and these products have shown a great demand as it increases functionality by giving consumers the ease to regulate home appliances such as lighting, fan, refrigerator, television, etc. even when not at home.
As modularity and platforming is gaining prominence – manufacturers are focusing more on making common products across different range of switches. Customers are demanding the inclusion of useful products such as USB chargers, mosquito repellants, mobile chargers, audio speakers, door bells. We are also seeing wider adoption of technology for designer guestroom controls, lighting management systems, as well as wiring devices, circuit protection, cable management and air purifiers for a healthier, energy efficient, and cleaner home environment.
What are the restraints in Home Automation Market?
Home automation market is India faces multiple restraints and these limitations have restricted the growth of the market in our country. Home automation solutions providers need to design products keeping in mind the Indian household environment. For instance, majority of houses in India are made of concrete/mivan walls instead of wood. This means that for any smart home solution to be functional in that house, it would require wireless IoT devices with long range. Also, a huge chunk of the Indian population lives in a joint family household. This would require that the smart home solutions/gadgets have to be designed keeping the same in mind multiple user interface, multiple settings, preferences etc. for use by everyone in the house including the elderly, guests, kids and domestic help. Additionally, installing home automation gadgets is perceived to be an expensive process. Another factor that deprives the home automation market interest from even HNIs and millennials is data security. The importance of privacy is growing day by day and cyber security is a big concern so the smart solutions and offerings have to be designed considering the mindset of the Indian consumers.
What is the different price ranges of automation available?
The home automation market comes with a diverse range of products available across price segments depending on their application. More than the amount being invested it is about what feature is relevant to the consumer. For almost every device there is a ‘smart’ option available in the market be it large appliances, small appliances or even voice recognition systems, and at different price points. At this point in time, since most of these devices are not on a common platform consumers are making a choice depending upon their needs &lifestyle.
A simple smart plug from a reputed make for an appliance can cost anywhere from INR 2000 whereas home automation solutions with smart switches which are for not only appliances but also for lights may start from INR 50,000 from reputed make and can go for more than INR 10 lakhs. Our smart wiring devices is a modular range. The range starts from INR 50,000 and can go up till INR 5 lakhs per flat with sophisticated wiring devices and color material finishes.
Advanced home automation devices you have used for your project and their applications
We offer a huge portfolio of home automation devices with a lot of advanced features for use at customer’s disposal but they are rarely used. Adoption of home automation devices still remains a huge challenge.
At our end, to enable wider adoption of home automation devices, we are ensuring that all smart SKUs we offer under our smart wiring devices, the dimensions of the same are exactly as that of non-smart SKUs. This helps as the builder is not required to change his original design for adoption, keeps the solution modular and customizable. At the same time, this also gives the end customer the flexibility and option of switching back to the traditional version instead of being stuck with a particular design due to the special holes/cabling/conduiting and arrangements made in the walls.
It is really tough to ensure the dimension of smart switch is kept same as that of non-smart and a revolutionary steps considering smart wiring devices. But this is an advanced feature which will act as a catalyst for future adoption as it blendsthe existing ecosystem and asks for minimal changes in behavior from builder or customer.
Additionally, our wireless protocol has a long range and perhaps the longest and most reliable in the industry. This is much needed for Indian homes made of concrete/mivan construction.