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4.29.20 – SSI –

Parks Associates explains the benefits that will be realized in full once there is an alignment of AI-enabled hardware, system software and intelligent call center services.

Editor’s Note: SSI has partnered with Parks Associates for the creation of DIY FYI, a column designed to help dealers keep track of important smart home market developments, what the competition is and whether they want to jump into something they see as a new opportunity.

The residential security industry saw great strides in 2019, but 2020 will bring new challenges due to the COVID-19 public health crisis the country is facing.

The latest Parks Associates consumer data finds that 33% of U.S. broadband households now own a home security system, representing the most significant increase in adoption in many years. This growth came in part due to widespread availability and awareness of DIY and smart home-adjacent solutions, which made adoption more appealing and affordable to more households.

Now the question going forward is how to maintain this momentum and attract the two-thirds of broadband households without security solutions, especially with so many economic headwinds in 2020.

One area that will serve as a driver of residential security systems is artificial intelligence (AI). AI can bring a host of benefits, which will be realized in full once there is an alignment of AI-enabled hardware, system software and intelligent call center services.Related:Solving the Residential Security Conundrum of COVID-19

Vertically or partially vertically-aligned players, such as Vivint, are in the strongest position to create and capture the value of AI because they can optimize the whole system, assure quality control and user experience, and monetize each component. DIY could be active in this space, but it will be several years before a DIY solution can match an AI-enabled pro-monitoring system.

Several opportunities will grow out of the way AI impacts the monitoring industry:

  • AI will help satisfy requirements for “verified response” programs enacted by municipalities, whose law enforcement officers will not respond to an alarm unless the alarm has been verified by the property owner, guard or representative. The need to reduce false alarms is greater with added pressure on first responders due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Central monitoring stations have the opportunity to capture incremental revenue by supporting video verification and video surveillance services through third-party integrations. Dealers who sell these services for increased RMR will need to attach them to a monitoring station that supports them.
  • In the next three years, video analytics are unlikely to significantly diminish operational costs of central monitoring stations or erode their business. Closer to five years out, DIY products with robust video analytics could capture a part of the pro-monitored market and innovative monitoring stations could start to implement more automated processes utilizing video analytics and other forms of AI.

Application of machine learning to home security and home automation offers the following benefits:

  • Machine learning improves the user experience by constantly improving the interactive services in the home, making control more convenient and autonomous, thus increasing the value of services and ultimately boosting the RMR opportunities for dealers.
  • A system with machine learning can learn to detect anomalous activity at the monitored location when the premises are occupied or unoccupied, potentially identifying security events that might not be triggered by traditional access control systems.
  • Like video analytics, machine learning can help reduce false alerts and provide more context for interpretation of security events. That value will be captured by the dealer and the interactive services provider.

Other forms of emerging technology, such as sensor innovation, also have the opportunity to drive appeal and push the security market forward. Companies are moving beyond traditional PIR (passive infrared sensor) sensors to offer sensors that utilize WiFi motion technology.

These types of sensors allow for homeowners to map movement in the house using just WiFi and mesh motion sensing without the need of additional devices such as networked cameras.

Aura, a sensor system created by Cognitive Systems, enables home monitoring through the use of wireless signals that create a coverage zone within the home. If a person, animal, or object enters the zone, the wireless signals are disrupted and a notification is sent to the homeowner. This allows for homeowners to maintain privacy in the home while gaining insights into the activities that are happening in the home, at no additional monthly costs.Related:New Security Products and Services Pros Should Consider Offering in 2020

Cognitive Systems has also partnered with Plume, Qualcomm Technologies and Stanley Black & Decker to offer its security product called Omni. This product is enabled by Cognitive’s Aura motion technology as well as Qualcomm’s mesh networking platform.

Omni’s WiFi mesh network utilizes RF technology to enable the interpretation and detection of WiFi signals in the home. This allows for a framework in the home that can detect motion using those WiFi signals that are identified.

These innovations expand the value propositions for home security, which as an industry has demonstrated resiliency in past downturns. With people spending more time at home, one key use case for security monitoring (i.e., monitoring a house while residents are away) is not as immediately appealing; however, Parks Associates’ consumer research indicates the safety and security of the household and family members is still top-of-mind to US consumers.

Innovations in AI and advanced sensors will enhance use cases and expand the ability of the security industry to adapt to new circumstances while also opening new opportunities for security monitoring in commercial, SMB and communal areas.

Elizabeth Parks is President of Parks Associates.