home_securityA new marketing certification program, announced today by Sigma Designs and the Z-Wave Alliance, aims to raise consumer awareness about Z-Wave short-range wireless technology. Sigma Designs develops components used in Z-Wave products, including home control and monitoring systems.

The new program will certify that products meet Z-Wave Plus standards. As a Sigma Designs spokeswoman explained in an interview, Z-Wave Plus is an enhanced version of the Z-Wave standard that provides “better range, battery life and user experience.” It is designed to be backwards-compatible with products supporting previous versions of the Z-Wave standard, the spokeswoman said. Earlier this year Sigma Designs introduced a Next Gen Z-Wave 500 offering supporting Z-Wave Plus.

Z-Wave Plus is more “plug and play” than earlier versions of Z-Wave, the spokeswoman noted. “The moment you bring a device into the ecosystem, the home system will recognize it,” she explained.

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Enhancements such as these could simplify the process of installing home control and monitoring systems – a business that telcos and cablecos have been seriously pursuing.

Some service providers are considering embedding Z-Wave into set-top boxes so that the set-top box “becomes the be-all-and-end-all” within the home, said the Sigma spokeswoman.

This type of set-top box would be able to communicate with home control and/or security sensors located throughout the home. The set-top box, in turn, would connect to a cloud-based service via a connection to the customer’s broadband connection.

Using the cloud-based service, customers would be able to use their cellular devices to control lighting, heating and other Z-Wave connected devices in the home when they are away from home. Customers also would get alerts when, for example, a child arrives home from school.

Some telcos and cablecos already are offering services of this type, which customers pay for on a monthly basis. The new capabilities of Z-Wave Plus could make this type of offering more appealing to service providers and their customers.

“The home security and control ecosystem has some real traction in terms of service providers wanting to add revenue,” said the Sigma spokeswoman.

Service providers also are interested in home control and security because those services can improve customer loyalty, the Sigma spokeswoman said. While customers think nothing of swapping out a DVR in order to change video service providers, changing home control providers is more complex.

“This is more about everything in the home,” said the spokeswoman. Customers “don’t want to learn a new interface on their tablet or switch the doorlock on the front door.”

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