A case for the functional gateway

November 7, 2014 OpenSystems Media

A major problem for anyone pursuing a connected house is that the more devices you bring into your home, the more separate hubs you need to operate them. With this, the convenience you were hoping to achieve may not only become cumbersome, but an eyesore as well.

Gateways are relevant to the Internet of Things (IoT) in several ways.

  1. Gateways make communication to an end device simple.
  2. Gateways provide a single source of control without the need for continual Internet activity and a minimized need for cloud-based processing on many tasks.
  3. Gateways can unify a collection of devices into a functional team

Though relevant, none of these points address the growing pile of gateways that IoT home automation adopters are experiencing. A gateway to serve the sole purpose of connecting devices to the Internet is going to lose relevance as the IoT continues to grow. Not only do users not want a pile of gateways sitting in the middle of their living room or office, they also do not want to continue spending money to grow this pile of gateways to Mount Everest heights.

The solution for this problem is functional gateways.

Functional gateways serve the same purposes mentioned above, but they can be used as an actual IoT home automation product as well.

A gateway should be the most simple and obvious device that an everyday home automation user can find a use for. It should be a smart home user’s first real experience with home automation and make them want to add more products to communicate with that gateway. While a typical gateway has no use other than to allow devices to communicate between devices and the Internet, a functional gateway is a product that a homeowner could use daily.

An example of a functional gateway is the Nest Thermostat. Acting as a Trojan horse of sorts, the Nest Thermostat is equipped with its function of setting the temperature in a house but it also has built-in hardware to utilize it as a gateway as well. This will become more obvious within the next year with the launch of the Thread Alliance as more devices start to use this technology, building a whole team of smart products that can communicate with one another.

It’s easy to notice that the Nest Thermostat is not just another gateway box to pile on top of your other gateway boxes at home or in the office. It serves a purpose that users want and need in their home environment.

About the author: Adam Justice is general manager of the ConnectSense line of wireless sensors from Grid Connect.

Adam Justice, Grid Connect
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