Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Industry Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore Speech - Connected Homes Seminar, HDB HUB Auditorium

Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive, Industry
Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
Speech - Connected Homes Seminar, HDB HUB Auditorium
Singapore, 26 November 2004

Good morning,
Ladies and Gentlemen

What Is Connected Homes?

1. Thank you for taking time off your busy schedule to attend this seminar.

2. In today's seminar, we hope to share with you on how Connected Homes can bring about new business opportunities for your companies. Specifically, how you can offer various Connected Homes solutions to value add to your customers.

3. Currently, the terms "Connected Homes" and "Smart Homes" are used interchangeably in the industry1, and this often can be a source of confusion. To make sure that all of us have a common understanding of the term "Connected Homes", let me share with you our view of a connected home.

4. It is a place where multiple home devices such as PCs, appliances, security system, lighting and aircon are connected together to deliver a rich set of content and services through the internet. It enables digital pictures and music from any devices to be viewed by any TV or piped to any speakers; printers and scanners to be shared by any PCs; intrusion or fire to be alerted and even aircon to be activated remotely before returning from work.

5. In essence, all these could be summarised into three categories:
a. Home Networking
b. Home Entertainment, and
c. Home Automation and Control

The need for Home Networking

6. First, in the area of Home Networking. Let me briefly share with you the business opportunities there. According to Instat/MDR, a leading research firm in digital communications, home networking is expected to grow from generated roughly US$2.2billion to US$9billion from 2002 to 2006 with the compound annual growth rate of 42%2. In their 2003 survey3 targeted at residential builders and developers across the US, Instat/MDR found that it is becoming common practice for builders and developers to incorporate various technologies into new homes. These included plans to introduce structured wiring and other home technologies into new and renovated homes. in 2002. It expects the market to grow by more than $9 billion by 2006. And according to Industry analyst, Park Associates, a US based research house that specialises in the home and residential market, home networking in the US has grown from reported that home networking in US households has grown from 9% of the households in 2002 in 2002 to 12% in 20034.

7. Correspondingly in Singapore, according to IDA's recent Annual Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households, home networking has also grown among all households in Singapore from 5% to 8% between 2002 and 2003.

8. Another indicator showing growing home networking is from the increase in wireless access point sales. IDC's market analysis forecast released last month5 indicated that access point sales in Singapore have increased from US$4.5million to US$6.5million during the same period in 2003 and 2004.

9. This is primarily due to our increasing need to juggle work and family life. More working professionals are accessing office work from home. The same IDA survey revealed that homes with at least 1 family member who tele-work has increased from 28% of Singapore households in 2002 to 37% of households for 2003. For those with school-going children, you will also notice that increasingly, students today are accessing the Internet to do research projects and their homework online.

10. Hence the need to network the home is beginning to become more apparent as it allows home owners to share information and use network devices at the same time. For example, family members can share common resources such as the printer without the need to buy individual printers for each family member. In addition, they can also access the Internet at the same time whenever there is a need. Better still, with wireless access, family members can enjoy the freedom of Internet access from anywhere in the home.

11. Apart from the increasing need by home owners to network their homes, we are beginning to see major players like Philips and Microsoft entering the home entertainment market to provide connected products and services. Product such as StreamiumTV from Philips allows home owners to stream music, videos, photos and games to the TV, drawing all these content from any computing devices like PCs, mobile phones and PDAs.

12. We observed that Intel and Microsoft have recently coordinated efforts to promote and showcase the digital home lifestyle. The reason for this development is simply because people need a single device that allows them to manage the various formats that information and home entertainment currently come in. For example, instead of viewing a movie that has been downloaded from the Internet from a PC, one can choose to have the movie streamed into any electronic or computing device within the home, say onto the TV set that is located either in the living room or bedroom and watch it in comfort of a larger screen and setting.

13. Local players such as Neuston has developed a media adaptor for media files playback from multiple computers through wireless and wired networks. Home owners can thus retrieve these files for playing on the TV.

14. The introduction of these interesting devices clearly demonstrates that both consumer electronics and PC computing players have recognised this market potential, and have begun to offer connected lifestyle solutions for the home.

The Need for Home Automation and Control

15. With the rise of dual income families, children and elderly are usually left in the company of the maids. The recent cases reported on maid mishandling of children have triggered some home owners to re-think their family's safety. It prompted them to explore ways to monitor their homes while at work. Leveraging on existing infocomm technologies, local companies such as UGI has developed the UniSecure product that provides a full suite of connected homes solutions, which includes the remote home monitoring module, intrusion and fire notification module and emergence panic button module. I understand that they are offering all these at less than $1000.

16. Likewise, several property developers such as City Developments Limited (CDL) and Far East Organisation have also identified this growing need of a more infocomm savvy population, and have worked with some of our industry partners to incorporate elements of home security and automation control in their recent developments. These include the Water Place Condominium, The Pier, and the Caribbean.

17. From what we have shared, we have identified the various needs that will spur the acceptance of Connected Home solutions. These observations on the various needs of home owners are also validated by the IDC Consumer Behaviour survey we commissioned recently. The survey revealed that home owners found data communications (or home networking) to be most useful. This is followed by home entertainment, and home automation and control.

18. Both the Consumer Behaviour Study and industry reports point to the fact that home networking or data communications provides the underlying infrastructure for a Connected Home. Solutions from home entertainment will accelerate the acceptance of connected homes. This is complemented by home automation and control. Sandra from IDC Asia/Pacific will elaborate these points further in her presentation on "The review of the Connected Homes market".

IDA's Role in the Connected Homes Market

19. IDA recognises that the Connected Homes concept can present our local companies with business opportunities leveraging on infocomm technologies. We initiated a number of projects to address the lack of integrated connected homes solutions for the homes and the community. Through our first Call for Collaborations (CFC), a total of 35 new Connected Homes products and services have since been developed and deployed in over 400 households. These solutions encompass data communications, entertainment, automation and security.

20. A positive spin off from the Connected Homes effort is the recognition received from international players such as the consumer electronics giant, Philips. Philips benefited from participating in IDA's initiative, and subsequently proceeded to launch its own global initiative called Connected Planet. This has led to an investment of S$150million over the next five years to support development in this area. Furthermore, Philips Singapore has been recognised as the first global test bed under the Connected Planet.

21. After linking the homes, a natural extension is for us to expand the connectivity beyond the homes to the Community. Hence we initiated the "Connecting the Community" effort to come up with creative but practical solutions that can address community needs and solve community problems.

22. Launched in January this year, we attracted the interest of 111 companies and subsequently awarded to four consortia consisting of 23 companies. The solutions proposed were aimed at enhancing "connectedness" within the community, for example, by improving communication and information flow so that real-time information updates on disease outbreaks for example, will be possible. Other solutions make use of wireless technologies to alert users if their aged parent or grandparent has met with an accident at home. Yet another solution is designed to help busy working parents keep track of their children's progress in school through email and SMS alerts of results and upcoming activities.

23. From the range of the proposed solutions, there is something for everyone - from the family, to the target communities such as schools, businesses and healthcare providers, to the general public. These solutions were not developed in a vacuum, but together with the actual users. In fact two Citizens Consultative Committees, Bishan and Paya Lebar, are represented in two of the consortia. With all this, I believe in time to come, Singaporeans can truly enjoy a connected lifestyle.


24. In conclusion, the Connected Homes market promises great possibilities and offers new business opportunities. Efforts to develop new Connected Homes products and solutions are underway, by infocomm and consumer electronics players, to accelerate the growth of this market. But these players, on their own, cannot realise the potential of Connected Homes. They require the support of the home construction players such as developers, architects, M&E consultants and home renovators, to jointly promote the use of Connected Homes solutions.

25. At the same time, today's thrifty Singaporeans need to be persuaded on the clear benefits of connected homes solutions before they part with their hard-earned cash. Industry members may want to consider offering innovative and effective solutions that are simple to install and use so that home owners can appreciate its benefits and value.

26. In today's seminar, you will have the opportunity to hear from major players such as Intel and Philips on their visions for connecting the homes. From Intel, you will get the personal computing perspective, while from Philips, you will gain perspectives from the consumer electronic giant on the Connected Homes. Besides hearing from the global players, you will also catch first hand accounts of local experiences in deploying Connected Homes. At the end of the seminar, you will be given an opportunity to exchange ideas relating to the implementation of Connected Homes.

27. Thank you and have a fruitful day ahead.


1 They range from NetLingo, an online dictionary, to Cisco system business glossary, to the Department of Trade and Industry (UK) and SYPHA, a consultancy and research house.
2 Instat/MDR cited in "Home Networking Draws Consumers", Consumer Electronics Vision Magazine.
3 "The New Builders of Broadband Networks: Instat/MDR Survey of Builders' & Developers' Broadband Intentions, March 2003, Instat/MDR.
4 "The Home Network Market - A Parks Associates White Paper", Kurt Scherf, Parks Associates, 2004.
5 "Asia/Pacific (Excluding Japan) WLAN Equipment Market 2004 Mid-Year Update and 2004-2009 Update", IDC.

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Last updated on: 13 Mar 2023