Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and voice control are helping to speed-up adoption and innovation in the smart home, and the industry is now looking ahead to the concept of homes with smart capabilities built in. This was one of the topics at the IoT World conference in Santa Clara, California, in May 2017, with a number of speakers discussing new models of delivering value via smart home devices, and debating what the future of the smart home holds.
Moving beyond interoperability
While the question of interoperability and standards remains relevant in the overall IoT, some stakeholders are beginning to argue that the advent of voice control is making the debate over radios and technologies less relevant, particularly now that there are Wi-Fi modems active in around 80% of US households. This divergence was illustrated by the opinions of speakers from Intel, which believes standards are important, and the opinions of smart home OEMs such as smart lock maker August and smart sprinkler maker Rachio – both of which are focused on improving the experience for the end user.
Most agreed, however, that the smart home market had not yet hit its inflection point so that it filter into the mass market. Cost and installation are still key problems to surmount, although GE Lighting expects that by 2020 half of all residential lighting sockets in the US will hold LED bulbs – since all smart bulbs are typically LED, this will offer users a conduit through which they can be introduced to the smart home. At the same time, Comcast noted that 70% of households taking home security are on older, hard-wired calling systems, which presents a large opportunity to upsell them to home automation services.
Looking forward, speakers and attendees noted how the next step in the smart home's evolution will be for the house to become "conscious," adapting to consumers as they walk through the home and becoming better able to predict equipment failure in systems such as plumbing or heating. This move toward the conscious home will also provide opportunities for companies focused on the machine-learning aspects of AI to cooperate with smart home service providers and OEMs.
Smart Home Devices Trends: 2016–21, TE0004-001155 (May 2017)
"Smart Home World 2016: Driving the adoption of smart home technologies," TE0003-000940 (July 2016)
"CES 2017: Voice control set to take over the smart home," TE0004-001145 (January 2017)
Francesco Radicati, Senior Analyst, Consumer Technology