Telecom - Student Papers
The Smart Box
by Donna Mosley
I. Introduction: The Connected Lifestyle
The connected lifestyle is on the horizon. Currently this technology exists in pieces from computer software programs and X-10 plugs that enable remote appliance activation as well as wireless control from cell phones. The key to making the connected lifestyle an everyday lifestyle is the “smart box”. The smart box is a little black box that is connected to the internet and is the back bone of your home networking infrastructure. This box would not only be the focal point for updating programs for the internet, but it would also connect all appliances in the household. This would in turn allow you to have remote access to all appliances in your home. This box would also recognize trends in patterns in your living environment and would “learn” to make your household run more smoothly. The smart box is the key because it is simple and pretty much invisible to the end user. After initial installation it automatically downloads new programs from the internet as needed and is self maintaining. Accessing your home network is as easy as logging onto a web site or sending an email. The software programs and boxes that currently exist are complicated and it is necessary for the user to learn a whole new language in order to set up and maintain their home network. The smart box would essentially become part of the background and maintain itself.
The Smart box would provide new value added services to the networked home customers in the form of communication, entertainment, home control and information services. These new services would allow service providers to generate new revenue. The smart box will network appliances within the home and connect them to the internet. This box will make the new services attractive to the consumer because it is a dedicated small device that requires little or no upkeep on the part of the homeowner. To the consumer the smart box would not even be visible in the home and the service provider would manage it.
II. Market Trends
Several important trends are converging today to create an environment in which the connected home is inevitable:
- Rapid growth of broadband
- More than 12 million homes in the US alone will have broadband access by 2002.
- 10 million homes will have broadband access by 2003.
- Emergence of network enabled devices
- World wide information appliance shipments will grow from $11 million to $89 million annually by 2004.
- The home networking equipment and residential gateway market will grow from $600 million to $5.7 billion by 2004.
- A Move to service driven networks
- Broadcast television is moving toward pay-per-view, as well as dial tone on demand.
- Activities such as using a mobile phone to remotely access home security or audiovisual systems, and using the smart card in the phone for storing personal information or to secure transactions will soon be everyday occurrences.
- Consumer Acceptance
- 21 million US households have an interest in the concept of networked home.
- 42% of households with Pcs would consider using a network to enhance communication across their families.
III Business Model
The smart box would be manufactured and marketed using the same business model as digital cable boxes. The manufacturer would sell the boxes to service providers in mass quantities and the service provider would install and maintain the device and pass the cost on to the consumer. The deregulation of telephone, cable, and utility industries will make this a very competitive market. The smart box would be a new value added service that could generate new sales. The key to making the smart box a money making idea would be marketing the box to service providers and having them to buy in and really push this product in their respective markets. As with all new services building customer demand would be essential to bringing this new idea to light.
http://www.sun.com. The Connected Home Powered by Java Embedded Server
Software, viewed on 10/14/2002.
http://www4.gartner.com. Connecting the Unconnected with Home Networking,
viewed on 10/14/2002.