What’s different about home automation this year?

In 2011, sales of more than 55 million tablet PCs are forecasted. For home automation, this changes everything.

Now, we know that this claim will be met with skepticism. But if you doubt the potential of this newly minted union, consider for a moment another example of technological symbiosis.

Today, more than 90 percent of US homes have paid cable television subscriptions. Now imagine what that number would look like had the infrared remote never been introduced. After all, who would pay for 100+ channels if they had to get off the couch every time they wanted to flip through them?

Here are just a few reasons that we foresee the popularity of the tablet PC ushering in a new era in the home control industry.

Cost

A report released earlier this week by the consulting firm Frost & Sullivan put the cost of a home control system intended for the iPad at half the price one incorporating a dedicated touch screen.

The iPad doesn’t require installation, professional or otherwise. And because tablets are portable, there’s also no need to put one in every room.

A positive reference

In the past, home automation meant additional remotes and, in the minds of many consumers, additional headaches. For this reason alone, the level of comfort so many users have with the iPad and its contemporaries is a huge boon to the industry.

Let’s also not forget to mention the intuitive navigation and sleek graphics that have become synonymous with the iPad experience.

Off the wall

One of the biggest drawbacks of a dedicated wall panel is that, well, it’s stuck to the wall. This essentially means two things. The first is that to get it there, you’ll need to cut a hole in the wall (or, more likely, you’ll have to pay someone to cut a hole in the wall). Once that’s done, the speed at which technology develops today can almost guarantee that your cutting-edge touch panel will look dated long before you’re ready to replace it. True is that handheld devices may eventually suffer the same fate, but at least you’re not attached to them so permanently.

In previous posts, we’ve suggested that the industry is made up of several camps, each founded on the standards their constituents choose to implement. Interestingly, the tablet PC is where they all seem to converge. At every level of the supply chain, businesses are quickly adapting their offerings for this new medium. Those who don’t will likely be left behind.

On a side note, this company isn’t planning to be one of them!

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