The connected home is closer than ever

Craig Barratt of Qualcomm Atheros at Mobilize 2011It seems like the concept of “the connected home” has been a hot topic forever. For most of us, it has remained safely in the realm of our imaginations. But according to Craig Barratt, the president of Qualcomm’s Atheros division, connectedness everywhere is closer than ever to becoming a reality.

In an onstage conversation with Stacey Higginbotham at GigaOM’s Mobilize 2011 conference, Barratt acknowledged that the industry has not made real connectedness happen as quickly as it should have, in large part because of fragmentation. “One of the things we haven’t done very well in this industry is the peer-to-peer connections between devices in the home,” he said. But the industry is finally starting to come together and establish standards that will help to make that happen. “I think making that work well … will happen within the next six to twelve months,” Barratt said.

And when that change comes, it is going to be pretty cool. “In the connected home I think we’ll have much smarter technologies so the whole experience can change. The [mobile] device I have in my hand will be the portal to all these devices [in my home],” Barratt said.

Making connectedness happen is just as much a software problem as it is a hardware problem. “The physical layer of technology that makes this work, like WiFi, power lines, cellular connections, is becoming pervasive. Now it’s about the middle and upper layers of software protocols … and making those work well in terms of authentication, security, and simply management about all these devices,” Barratt said. “I think the whole industry has this mandate to create technologies — software technology and protocols — that really make this seamless.”

But it’s important to remember that change hasn’t come as slowly as it may seem. “We’re seeing significant changes over the past five to ten years until today,” Barratt said. “We’re at the early stage today compared to what’s possible in the future.”

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