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Smart Technologies for Smart Retailers

Home networking, control and energy management are mainstream differentiators

July 1, 2010 By Jeff O'Heir
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Strong partnerships with key vendors will become more important as CE and appliance dealers develop home networking divisions and competencies to differentiate their businesses, drive incremental sales and generate bigger profits.

In the upcoming technology section of Dealerscope's July issue, we spoke with key representatives from three companies-Intel, Cisco and Control4-that dealers with any interest in selling solid home technologies should be partnering with. These vendors, despite their ups and downs, eventually succeed in delivering new technologies and solutions that change the face of their target markets. Many of those solutions and products fit well within the business models of today's innovative CE retailers.

The companies also have solid records in supporting their authorized dealers. Once a trusted relationship is established, the companies have proven that they'll work closely with their partners to drive business. CE and appliance dealers are becoming increasingly important to them as home networking and its related solutions grow more essential to mainstream consumers. It's up to dealers, though, to make the first move.

Since its inception, Intel has been a forerunner in emerging technologies that expand beyond its processor technologies and embrace full solutions. The company has been on the forefront of home health care and telemedicine solutions (areas we implore CE retailers to explore) and, most recently, is working with the industry to develop home energy management and smart grid solutions. Many players in the CE industry see this as a realistic and logical emerging market for retailers.

"Our role is to sell silicon, but Intel has always played a big role in opening the barriers of entry," said Ryan Parker, director of marketing for Intel's Embedded and Communications Division. "We've always worked with our partners to solve problems, and that will continue to big part of what we do."

Sometime early next year, Intel expects to begin delivering its Home Dashboard and intelligent home energy management solution to retail manufacturers, including OpenPeak. Based on Intel's Atom processor, the

Dashboard is designed to exchange monitoring and control data with smart appliances, smart plugs, smart utility meters and sensors throughout the home. The Dashboard will provide home users with information to help them plan daily activities, control utility costs, access messages and activate home security systems. The system is designed to integrate with smart grids when utilities eventually deploy them.

"At the gateway and panel level, we're looking to do inference design with software and hardware, so now we'll have a bundled product," Parker said. "Energy management is a great first step for dealers, and there will be a lot of other services they can provide on top of that."


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