“A house is a machine for living in”. Le Corbusier (1923)
Smart homes were well-known long before they became a reality. In the 1950s, in the midst of nuclear psychosis, the American writer Ray Bradbury envisioned a terrifying automated house in his short story “There Will Come Soft Rains”. Bradbury’s image came at a time when home appliances were becoming increasingly popular, but little did he realise that his ideas would one day become a (less terrifying) reality.
Although smart technology has not yet reached science-fiction level (Minority Report adverts?), the smart sector (devices, homes appliances) is growing rapidly. Many companies are producing new disruptive devices to provide security, energy efficiency or comfort to householders, and indicators show that this trend will be crucial in the marketplace of the future.
The “smart” market
The global smart home industry is a rapidly growing market. Many people today have heard of smart home ecosystems like Google Home, Apple Homekit, and Amazon Echo and its intelligent personal assistant, Alexa. According to Zion Market Research, the smart home sector was valued at USD 24.10 billion in 2016 and it will get to USD 53.45 billion by 2022; growing at a CAGR of 14.5% between 2017 and 2022. The United States, followed by Europe and Asia will be the key areas for this growth. In addition, Consumer Reports states that smart home tech -from one device to an entire system- will be present in more than 60% American homes by 2021, with worldwide household penetration to rise from 7.5% to 19.5% from 2018-2022.
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“Google, turn the lights down 50%”
Here are just some of the smart applications in homes:
- SECURITY. Thanks to the innovation in home automation safety products, now it’s possible to control our home’s security devices from anywhere. You can even set up smart doorbells, cameras, locks, alarms and sensors yourself, without hiring any service. Security cameras are actually taking it to the next level by using facial recognition. Lighthouse, a high-tech security camera with 3-D powered computer vision and AI technology than can tell the difference between a guest and a burglar. This innovative device is also able to notify you about specific events in the future, for example, “ping me if my son hasn’t come home after 1am”.
- LIGHTING. Households are beginning to appreciate light controls and energy efficiency. One of the main factors driving the growth of systems is the increasing use of LEDs. Smart lighting devices not only allow users to save money, they also present information for maintenance and consumption analysis.
- HOME APPLIANCES & SMART FURNITURE: Smart technology is working in two directions when it comes to white goods: easing household chores and going greener. Appliance makers are integrating kitchen and laundry appliances into home’s smart ecosystems for greater control and accessibility.
- HEATING & COOLING: There are already gadgets that we can use to manage temperature at home remotely and 2018 is said to be determining for smart thermostats sales with integrated GPS technology.
The future is “smart”
Some key growth drivers for home automation include security and safety upgrades, rising demand for home healthcare, government initiatives, awareness about energy consumption and pursuit of comfort. Improvements in voice-control technology and AI will be key components of the smart drive. However, high prices, the lack of consumer demand and the confusion caused by the tons of devices and operating systems on the market are preventing smart home companies from reaching the general public. Privacy and data security are the highest concerns for consumers, with many having reservations about companies “listening” to what goes on within their homes.
The future also sees “smartness” extending outside a private home. Smart ecosystems today are often privately owned. However, as devices and appliances become cheaper and more accessible, experts are forecasting the creation of smart public spaces. Sensors in public areas could improve sanitation and garbage collection, ease congestion, and maximise public space and benefits.
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