Between 2014 and 2020, the smart home industry is projected to grow by more than 406% ($400 billion vs $79 billion). A recent statistical report revealed that, the total number of home automation units sold globally will cross 9.5 million in 2017. Revenues from smart home components will, expectedly, spike as well – moving beyond the $1.3 billion figure. With smart home integration platforms like openHAB steadily gaining in popularity, this industry will grow at accelerated rates over the next 5 years or so. Over here, we will do a roundup of the most interesting trends in home automation to look forward to in 2017 and beyond:
Remote adjustment of lights
The Hue Bridge devices from Philips already do this, and the technology should get even more sophisticated in the next year. Users will be able to switch on the lights inside their homes from outside (say, from inside their cars) – simply by tapping on a designated app on their smartphones. This service will be particularly convenient for people returning home at night (and had not left the light switches on when they had left in the morning). No more bumbling ahead for keys and lights in the dark…a swipe on the phone screen can switch on the bulbs, even before the user enters his/her house!
Note: Lights can also be switched off/on remotely via Apple HomeKit, with the help of voice commands to Siri.
Cool 3D printing solutions for home renovation
Customization is something most (if not all) homeowners seek for, at the time of renovating their houses. Smart home experts as well as developers feel that advanced 3D printing techniques will have a big role to play in this, come 2017. What’s more, 3D printing should bring down the average home renovation costs as well, while delivering ideal, personalized solutions to owners. It will be easier than ever for people to create their so-called ‘dream homes’.
Smarter, more aesthetic thermostats
Over the next 12 months or so, adoption of ‘zone-based thermostats’ should witness a surge. These thermostats help in saving power, by heating only the room(s) which are occupied by people (no more heating the entire house for no one). These thermostats will be programmable as well, allowing users to set the temperatures through their tablets or smartphones. Yet another great thing about these new-age thermostats is their visual appeal. Most of them nicely match the overall interior decor of rooms, unlike their older counterparts. Comfortable and beautifully designed, that’s what smart home thermostats will be in future.
Note: The smart, self-learning thermostats can, on average, save 15% on cooling expenses and around 13% on heating expenses.
Home security systems to get an edge
Security is already a big part of the smart home setup – and it is going to become more cutting-edge in 2017. Apart from receiving timely alerts and notifications on phones/tablets, people will be able to view live video feeds of their homes (say, when the fire alarm goes off), and even check their pets – whenever they are not at home for extended periods. The remote home monitoring systems might even let parents make sure that their kids are back from school/college on time. In essence, ‘connected homes’ will gradually become synonymous to ‘safer homes’ over time.
Growth of voice technology for smart homes
Lutron and NEST have already shown the way – and it should not be long before practically every component of home automation becomes controllable with voice commands. Right from home entertainment systems and thermostats, to smart lights and other ‘connected’ household devices – people will be able to use them all with their voice. All that the homeowners will have to do is ‘speak’ out their requirements, and the smart gadgets will do the task. The adoption figures of voice-powered assistants like Amazon Alexa will soar higher.
Smart gadgets for a better sleep
How about relying on technology for making your daily beauty sleep just that bit better? In 2017, this is going to be a big thing – with ‘smart sleep gadgets’ expected to become a $126-$130 million market. Using these systems will involve attaching a small clip on the pillow – which would monitor the quality and duration of sleep, as well as sleep disturbances (if any). The sleep gadgets will also adjust the humidity, sound, light and temperature levels at optimal levels, to ensure sound sleep. If you are feeling drowsy, you won’t have to drag your feet across the hallway to switch off the TV either – the home automation tool will take care of that.
Note: Oh, and how about the coffee-maker being automatically switched on, as soon as you get up? That’s going to be a possibility too!
Over the last half a decade, kitchen appliances have come a long-way in terms of efficiency, performance and energy-saving capabilities. The next couple of years will witness the launch of many kitchen tools and equipments that will be adjustable through mobile applications. More basic stuff, like getting notifications when the laundry is complete or when the refrigerator is empty, will add to the convenience of homeowners as well. Kitchens are going to get smarter than ever before!
Advanced door locks
Consider this: a person is returning with two heavy shopping bags, he has to fish out the door keys from his pocket, and then open the door. Not a particularly easy task, right? Well, with home automation becoming more and more futuristic – there will soon be more ‘intelligent’ door locks. These locks will be programmed to identify the approaching footsteps of the owner, and get unlocked in a handsfree manner. Obviously, security remains a concern for these door locks – but the system is expected to become more foolproof by the end of 2017.
9. Smarter sound systems and home theaters
In connected homes, the concept of home entertainment systems will undergo a complete overhaul. With new and powerful sound systems, residents will be able to listen to music, sounds and even audiobook narrations – while performing their daily household chores. The speakers will be adjustable with dedicated mobile apps. Several new models of home theaters are also likely to hit the markets next year, and people will be able to set them up at almost any section of their house – from the basement and attic, to guest rooms and garages.
10. Smart ovens
These grabbed eyeballs in a big way at this year’s Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) consumer electronics trade show in Berlin. Going by early interest levels, it can be reasonably expected that these smart ovens – often with built-in recipes (downloadable) – will show robust adoption figures and sales between 2017 and 2020. Yet another cool feature of these ovens would be the in-built temperature probes, which would allow users to adjust cooking remotely.
Note: From the home automation domain, the spin-cycle and temperature-adjustable washing machines showcased at IFA 2016 are also worth a mention.
11. Greater focus on energy-efficiency and sustainability
For all the technological advancements and use of automated tools, sustainability will remain at the core of smart homes. In the next year, usage of paper insulation in construction is likely to really grow in popularity – given the many advantages it has on offer. For structural frames and beams, bamboo is likely to become a frequently-used material. The new home automation devices are all geared towards lowering the overall carbon footprint levels and average energy costs. LED lights, triple-pane windows and solar panels are all set to become regular fixtures in smart homes.
12. Remote home cleaning
Robotic vacuum systems are already available in the market (a good example would be the Roomba 980), and these will make their way into smart homes in 2017 and beyond. Powered with advanced sensors, these systems will have the capability of cleaning every corner of the home – and users will be able to control the vacuum via their smartphones. The vacuum systems will also have user-friendly dashboards, where the cleaning process would be displayed.
13. Smart sprinklers and garden equipments
The principle of the new garden sprinklers is simple enough: they offer more features without forcing the owners to spend more time monitoring them. Apart from drips and timer features, these dynamic sprinkler systems will adjust themselves according to the soil nature, weather & rainfall forecasts, humidity levels, and other external factors. For homeowners who love their gardens, these sprinklers will work like a charm!
With home automation tools evolving at a rapid pace, smart homes seem all set to enter the mass markets next year. Artificial intelligence will have a mighty important role to play in transforming the present-day ‘connected homes’ into truly ‘ubiquitous homes’ by 2025. The scope of Internet of Things (IoT) will continue to expand next year, with smart homes being one of the fastest growing sectors in it.
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