Soon, virtually every device in your home will be connected to the Internet. Controlling the protocol these devices use to talk to each other would be highly lucrative, as you might imagine.

To better understand the massive market potential of home automation and control, consider the price Google paid for Nest -- $3.2 billion. Apple, meanwhile, has introduced the HomeKit software platform for its upcoming iOS 8 release. Dozens of other companies are all vying for a piece of the connected pie.

But we must measure the cost and ease of use of the systems these tech giants produce against existing products. The Iris system from Lowe's (NYSE:LOW), for example.

Lowe's: A different business model
I was able to chat with Tom Kerber recently about Lowe's and its strategy in this space. Tom is the director of research in the areas of home controls, energy management, and home networks for Parks Associates.

He says Lowe's is employing a different business model in the home automation market, one that allows consumers to buy an inexpensive kit and begin connecting their home on an incremental basis. In all, the Lowe's Iris system expands to motion sensors, HVAC control, lights and other plugged-in devices, wireless video cameras, water leak detectors, door locks, sprinkler systems, and even hose faucet timers.

In the video below, Tom explains more about the Lowe's business model, and how many players the home automation market can support.

More about Apple's next smart device
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Rex Moore owns shares of Google (A shares) and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.