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Hampton’s ARRAY Connected Lock Opens New Doors for Wi-Fi in the Smart Home

by Jack Narcotta | Sep 13, 2018

Hampton’s ARRAY Wi-Fi smart lock is a hub-free smart home device, marking another entry in a small, but growing, segment of the smart home device market. Even with millions of Z-Wave and Zigbee devices installed in homes around the globe, the potential of Wi-Fi in the smart home is not even close to being tapped.

In fact, Strategy Analytics believes we’re just at the beginning of the emergence of Wi-Fi as a potentially significant enabler of the next waves of smart home devices and solutions. Wi-Fi-powered smart home devices will emerge as a growth engine for some device companies, as well as showing smart home service providers another way they can broaden the appeal of their often complex solutions by simplifying the installation and operation of smart home devices. Our August 2018 report on access control systems dives deeper into how the front door is moving to front-and-center in the smart home market, and assesses how next-generation devices will influence the dynamics of this fast-growing market segment.

What Makes the ARRAY by Hampton™ Different from Other Smart Locks?

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With the ARRAY, there is no secondary hub to purchase, the ARRAY comes with two high-power rechargeable batteries (one for the lock, plus a spare), a built-in solar panel to increase battery life and the lock is compatible with all current Wi-Fi signaling. The Array comes with metal keypad buttons and two traditional keys. While Hampton’s ARRAY is not the only Wi-Fi-compatible smart lock, it is among the first companies, and certainly the largest, to offer a smart lock specifically for the residential market. Smart lock makers such as RemoteLock offer Wi-Fi locks, but those locks cater to property management firms and hotel chains.

Why does the ARRAY matter in the Smart Home?

More robust support for commonly deployed communications technologies such as Wi-Fi, more processing capacity, and enhanced software performance in devices shows that smart home technology is becoming more capable as it enters the mass market. The people are beginning to speak, and the smart home solutions they want include components that natively support Wi-Fi.

Much like how digital assistants are leaping from smart speakers and into other devices – the impact of which we examined in a recent report on ecobee’s Amazon Alexa-equipped Switch+ smart light switch –consumers are becoming more familiar with smart home solutions: they want to do more with them as well as install more devices easily.

What Smart Home Problems Does a Device like the ARRAY Address?

  • Setup
    • Setting up a smart home device with built-in Wi-Fi takes several fewer steps than those with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Zigbee, or Z-Wave. Fewer steps mean fewer points of failure and fewer headaches for consumers, and the ARRAY’s setup is very similar to the familiar process of linking a mobile device or PC to a home network.
    • No hub also reduces points of failure and network complexity, which is important as we forecast the number of devices in the smart home to climb quickly over the next five years.
  • Operation
    •  ARRAY by Hampton app is the control point for any number of locks, and allows for remote access and operation without the need for an external hub. The ARRAY app also enables users to issue and control e-Codes and e-Keys to authorized users.
    • Hampton’s encrypted smart lock adds smarts without getting too complicated: tech-savvy customers can utilize their mobile device to operate and interact with an add-on Brink’s® PPR™ (push/pull/rotate) handle via geofencing to enable hands-free operation via elbow or hip. By comparison, locks from competitors Kwikset, Yale, Schlage, August, and others require capacitive input via a finger or hand to open or close.

What Challenges and Obstacles Exist for Hampton’s Wi-Fi Smart Lock?

  • Wi-Fi Coverage Issues
    •  The range and speed of Wi-Fi coverage for most consumers is at best inconsistent. Dozens, if not hundreds of companies have attacked this issue from various angles, with intermittent success. In many situations, the consumer’s front door may be out of range of the Wi-Fi router, or the signal must pass through several walls or other obstacles, risking intermittent operation or no operation at all of the lock.
  • First to Market Makes Hampton a Target
    •  Large competitors such as Yale, Schlage, and Kwikset possess the resources that will enable them to catch up quickly to Hampton. Broadcom, Cypress, and Ayla – several of the makers of components embedded in the ARRAY – are not exclusive partners with Hampton, and are likely working with Hampton’s competitors to offer locks similar to ARRAY.
  • Premium Price and Proliferation
    •  ARRAY's $299 price tag is at a premium in smart lock space, potentially limiting appeal to higher end of consumer market. Competitors’ pricing for most models is in most cases $50 to $100 less, although those locks usually require the purchase of an extra hub.
    • Lower pricing will stoke demand, but for Wi-Fi equipped locks this will likely not happen until more models enter the market, at which point Hampton will lose its lead in this area and find itself competing even more directly with overall smart lock market leaders Yale, Schlage, and Kwikset.
    • Additionally, while many consumers would likely enjoy being able to use their existing home Wi-Fi networks, the higher prices relative to Zigbee or Z-Wave smart home devices, as well as the Wi-Fi coverage issues noted above, may linger as obstacles.

Outlook
Ease of configuration and management of Wi-Fi-ready smart locks will no doubt help spur sales of smart locks beyond more tech-savvy early adopters, but higher pricing will create friction in the mass market. Hampton’s ARRAY highlights the direction the smart lock product development, and arguably many smart home devices, will take over the next few years.

However, Hampton maintaining its lead in this emerging segment will be difficult as the technology becomes more common and technology-based differentiators among competitors disappear in favor of lower prices.

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