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The pace of development for smart home technology is picking up, as is the number of devices on the market. In 2017 our things will get even smarter, and there will be a new generation of must-have gadgets.
Contents (Jump to)
- 1 NEW SMART HOME TECH FOR 2017
- 2 Wrapping
Intelligence and the Market Grow in 2017
The first generations of smart home products required a fair bit of know how, even professional assistance, to set up and operate. Current products have reduced the “friction” as marketers like to call it, and are now easier to install, monitor and manage.
With most products linked to an app or dashboard, smart home devices now appeal to the mass market of consumers, and no-fuss products like smart light bulbs provide a gateway for people to try more smart ideas around their properties, focusing on security and safety.
This puts more pressure on the smart home device makers to link their data or have their devices do more. That’s why we’re seeing “smart air” monitors in many devices, because the sensors are cheap to add and it appears to add value, even if your dog farts set off that pollution alarm.
In 2017, the trick will be to link devices to some seriously smart artificial intelligence so that they really do deliver on the promise of smart learning. How many motion sensors are still triggered by moving shadows, lighting or pets on the prowl?
“Once the AI can really learn, and be proven to do so, people will be more interested in the possibilities.”
As well as doing what the adverts claim, intelligent agents will be an increasing part of any smart home. Alexa, Siri and Google Home are already well on the way to creating a more natural way to interact with smarthomes, via voice command. But, while these are currently the preserve of companies with deep roots in AI and huge cloud services, soon the me-too companies will be coming along with their versions.
They might not be quite as smart or responsive, but if they can handle the 99% of requests that most people will make of their smart home, then they will appear in a growing range of devices including smart home hubs, bedside control devices and kitchen appliances.
Another new feature in 2017 products will be self-awareness. Those smarter kitchen appliances will “know” when the oven heating element is about to fail, or that a sensor in the dishwasher or tumble dryer is failing. They will be able to arrange a repair agent with the right part to visit, or at least let you know what’s wrong.
Everything Will Have a Budget Version
Most buyers will have noticed the gradual decline in prices, or of a wider range of products at various price points, as the big brands and newcomers try to broaden their appeal. Smart home technology is no longer the preserve of the gadget obsessive or tech head. Instead, companies are trying to sell their wares to the millions of typical consumers. That means more choice, the potential for more confusion among buyers, with compatibility and security issues, and the risk of no or poor support options (does reading the FAQ, ever really help?).
“But, overall, 2017 will help put more smart technology in homes and encourage more people to use it.”
Security will be the key word for smart home technology in 2017, if a product’s data flow (from the device to cloud server to your smartphone) isn’t encrypted from end to end, then it creates a risk to your home. Cheaper products are likely to be less secure, but the cunning hackers will find any weakness in any popular product to exploit, so being aware of the risks will be essential, no matter how much of a smart home novice a buyer is.
NEW SMART HOME TECH FOR 2017
Meet robo chef, the future of kitchen gastronomy
London, England firm Moley’s Robotic Kitchen is a crowdfunded kitchen robot, close to its £1 million investment goal. If successful, the company will sell a pair of robotic arms and cameras plus IT, along with an integrated oven for a product that can cook over 2,000 different meals.
With an expandable library of recipes, the robot learns by seeing real motion-captured chefs performing the recipe. All you would need do is provide the food and it will do the cooking to chef standards. It would even clean up after, with luxury kitchen fit-outs coming with a dishwasher. While the cost is likely to be raw-onion level eye watering, in future, high-specification homes could easily come with these types of systems preinstalled.
Robots taking over the home
Somewhat more affordable is Aido, a sub-$1,000 home robot capable of patrolling the halls, educating or entertaining the children and acting as a smart home hub. With a screen for a face, and projector built in, Aido knows who it is communicating with and can provide the right information or smart home settings for each person.
Currently available for pre-order, the premium pack comes with the HD projector and a charging unit. The robot is tall enough to sensibly interact with people and show them information, while ZigBee, Z-Wave, WiFi and Bluetooth radios mean it can control most smart home technology, and provide alerts or alarms when any device is triggered.
Smart health goes wearable for all ages
While now you might be using your smart scales and wristband to monitor your fitness, in 2017, we’ll see a wider range of health products to be used across all ages. For babies, the Owlet Smart Sock can check oxygen levels and heart beat to alert parents if either fall low, for reassurance or if they have a known condition.
For older people, there’s the GTX Corp’s GPS SmartSole, an insole with embedded GPS and cellular connectivity, that can keep a track on people with memory problems, either at home or in a care facility. Similar products can sense balance issues which could be caused by muscle weakness or brain injuries.
These aren’t massive leaps forward in medical terms, but show that makers will cram smart technology anywhere there is an obvious benefit. And if they help save lives, provide early diagnosis of problems or prevent serious injuries later on, will be more than welcome as the smart home generation gets older.
Smart on the rooftops
Solar power has been an ambition for many smart home owners, but issues over unsightly deployment and grid management, while governmental battles over tariffs have put many off. Coming to the rescue could be Elon Musk’s Tesla company which recently acquired Sun Solar and announced its range of roof tiles that come with built-in solar cells.
The cost could be no more than a new traditional replacement roof, with no more ugly racks of panels, instead a home can look totally normal, yet still harness the power of the sun to deliver energy to smart home products, your electric car and provide other benefits. They look really good too, with Tuscan curved tiles, and flat smooth, textured or slate effect tiles for most types of roof.
Upgrades All Round
Early generation smart home products from hubs to thermostats and cameras are now five or six years old. They will be ripe for replacement as the home’s security and data networks change, and as family situations evolve. Those looking for updates will be focused on keeping as much of their smart home intact as possible, but looking for future proofing and newer features.
New mesh networks providing better security and greater network coverage will be high on shopping lists, while the good news is that even older solutions like Z-Wave are getting increased security that is backward compatible to help defend the network and protect devices. Whatever your upgrade journey or smart home expansion plans, do thorough research beforehand.
Whatever your budget, there will be plenty of new smart home gadgets to tempt you in 2017. Whichever products you decide to buy, consider security and fit-for-purpose at the top of your shopping list before spending your budget.
One thing that will fade in 2017 is the smart home “wow” factor, analysts estimate that 10% of homes will install a voice assistant, while smart home lighting is growing at a compound annual growth rate of over 20%. By the end of the decade, most homes will have some smart features, and as they are installed into new builds by default, those numbers will only rise.
Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn’t have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!