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Preconfigured Z-Wave gear will save installation time

The next time an installer comes to set up a Z-Wave IoT device in your home, it might take a lot less time.

Sigma Designs, the company that makes most chips for Z-Wave wireless networks, is introducing a system at the CES trade show that lets service providers configure IoT devices before they’re delivered. That leaves less for a technician to do, and potentially to mess up, according to Sigma.

The system, called Z-Wave Smart Start, could make life easier for a lot of people getting started with smart-home technology. It’s still hard to set up most IoT products, so most don’t try to do it themselves. About 80 percent of home IoT gear is purchased through service providers rather than from shops or online stores, said Raoul Wijgergangs, vice president of Z-Wave for Sigma Designs.

Smart Start is an enhancement to the Z-Wave networking specification. It’s specifically designed for devices that are distributed by carriers, cable operators and smart-home specialists like security-system installers. It’s available worldwide, and service providers will probably start to implement in the second half of this year, Wijgergangs said.

With Smart Start, service providers can validate and configure a device while it’s still in the warehouse. Because that service provider set up the subscriber’s home network, it can pair each device with the user’s home network before it’s delivered. Then the home gateway knows that specific device is coming.

The pre-configuration will also include implementing Z-Wave’s latest security framework, called Z2, in each device shipped.

Sigma estimates this could cut installation time by as much as half and also cut down on errors. The process takes as long as two to three hours in some cases, so Smart Start could save more than an hour. This should save service providers money, Wijgergangs said. Less time waiting for technicians and staying home to meet them could be a boon to consumers, too.

Smart homes are still hard to set up, especially with conflicting protocols at all levels of the technology, analysts say. To help more consumers get on board, the backers of different IoT platforms, including ZigBee and the Open Connectivity Foundation, are trying to get their technologies more broadly deployed.

Z-Wave is no exception. Last year, Sigma made the interoperability layer of Z-Wave publicly available and free. It hopes more developers will write software that bridges Z-Wave products with cloud-based platforms and services.

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