US-based service provider Vivint has launched a new artificial intelligence (AI) assistant to help smart home customers manage their connected devices. Vivint Sky is designed to learn users' routines and manage energy usage, and can determine through the connected devices whether the user's house is occupied or not. It is controllable via Vivint's app and in-home control panel, as well as through voice commands using Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa.
Voice control first, then AI
Vivint Sky was announced at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a year after the company announced the integration of its service with Amazon's Alexa. Since then, a number of other smart home service providers have added support for voice control to their offering. Most attendees of CES 2017 in the smart home space also pointed to voice control, whether through Alexa or Google Home, as the most significant development in the sector. AI is likely to become the next innovation added to smart home platforms because it promises to enable better communication between devices without requiring user input.
However, Ovum expects most service providers to build their own platforms, as Vivint has done, rather than using products such as Google's DeepMind. In part, this is because using a homegrown AI assistant means the company has control of the data generated by its own customers, rather than Google or another AI company having that data for itself. Using its own AI also fits in with Vivint's existing smart home strategy, which is to design most of its devices itself and retain control of most of the product development, from design to sale.
The question that remains is whether AI control in the smart home space will be limited to service providers such as Vivint, or if it will expand to other ecosystems, such as those of Samsung or Apple's HomeKit, or smart home hubs such as Iris or Wink, which are designed to allow interoperability of devices from different ecosystems and using different protocols. The common thread, as with voice control, may prove to be Alexa and Google Voice.
Smart Home: Vivint builds on proprietary platform to foster innovation, TE0004-001064 (February 2016)
"Smart Home Summit: AI-enabled hubs point the way to the mass market," TE0004-001125 (November 2016)
Francesco Radicati, Senior Analyst, Consumer Technology