Proprietary home automation systems such as AMX and Crestron will ultimately be superceded by standards-based wireless connectivity. However, digital home entertainment networks will continue to struggle while the industry attempts to establish these standards.
This was the consensus of a panel of digital entertainment industry representatives who met on the Gold Coast this week to discuss the future of the industry.
Intel's customer services group business development manager, Sean Casey, described the vision of home entertainment and data convergence as one which seamlessly shared data and entertainment across three screens - handheld digital devices, notebooks and widescreen televisions.
"From a customer point of view, it is not about these devices converging into one," he said. "What's important is being able to share content between the devices."
However, a number of obstacles remained before we realised this vision, managing director of Connected Research Services, Graham Philipson, said.
"What we have got at the moment with home automation is exactly what we had in computing the 1980s with multiple competing operating systems," he said. "Ultimately, the computer market consolidated around a single platform, which in that case happened to be Microsoft. But you can't really decide which standards will ultimately dominate - the market will decide based on which standards are associated with the products they want to buy."
QualiFi marketing director of home entertainment distributor, Ralph Grundl, said current home automation market leaders, AMX and Crestron, would ultimately be replaced by cheaper and more flexible standards-based technology.
"The companies that stick to their guns, and stick to their proprietary systems, will end up falling by the way side," he said. "At the moment they are relying on high-end early adopters, who have the money to throw at the system they want and don't really care if it's proprietary or not."
Grundl said the cost and inflexibility of such technologies would ultimately see them replaced by cheaper, more interoperable technologies that were better able to adjust to the changing entertainment and technology usage patterns. Nonetheless, he said competing home networking technology, although standards-based, remained excessively complex and was unlikely to take hold of the market in the near future.
"We are only just starting to see affordable and easy-to-use products come out that can centralise the control of a lot of different devices," Grundl said. "Until it's easy to do we won't see it widely accepted."