Even bottled water is marketed as “smart” these days, notes Andre Comitre, COO of Artisan Window Fashions, but that claim does not make it true. Similarly, “smart homes” are easy to tout, but the reality of fully-integrated systems is still in the process of being realized.
Comitre, an architect by training, presented Oct. 3 at IFAI Virtual Expo 2020 on “Smart Homes and the Window Treatment Industry.” Comitre explained that smart homes aren’t a new concept; the idea was first introduced in 1975. For a home to be truly smart, it must integrate numerous systems, including lighting, appliances, alarms, door locks, HVAC, entertainment electronics, and rollers and drapes.
In terms of industry and consumer interest in fully-integrated smart homes, Comitre said sales are currently estimated at $2.3 billion in the U.S., with $4.7 billion projected for 2023.
As for the shade and window treatment purchases, motorization is growing, but the industry needs to work on making integration easier for all points in the process: manufacturers, fabricators, dealers, installers and end users.
Comitre says, “Automation is challenging to end users,” but it needs to work better for all the entities involved in shade and window treatments—and that means technology changes are needed. The most commonly-used proprietary protocol used right now is RF433 Mhz, but it has many limitations, including lack of interoperability and one-way communication.
Alternatives to RF433 Mhz include Zigbee and Bluetooth, says Comitre, and both are common protocols that offer low energy consumption and native two-way communication. Bluetooth, which is well known, is in its fourth generation and native to all smart phones.
Comitre points out that a new level of “perfect installation” is needed by the window treatment industry: simplified set up, shorter set up time, less technical knowledge demands, native integration, reliability and interoperability. Once these measures are in place, smart window treatments will gain a more seamless means to integrate with all the components that comprise a truly smart home.
Registration for IFAI Virtual Expo 2020 is open through Nov. 12. All Expo sessions will be posted on the Virtual Expo platform for viewing during Expo and for 30 days after Expo has concluded.