Over fifty years on, the true smart home – a seamlessly connected space in which our needs are anticipated, our lives are made easier and healthier, and our carbon footprint is reduced –is still some way in the future. But today’s explosion of technological innovation and AI in particular, is enabling companies to deliver more and more elements of what will ultimately comprise the smart home.
According to an October 2017 report from The NPD Group1, 15 percent of U.S. households own a home automation device, up from 10 percent in April 2016. NPD reported strong growth across all types of devices, with security and monitoring representing the largest share of dollar sales, and product categories such as video doorbells and smart lighting also growing quickly.
NPD also reported that ownership of voice-activated wireless speakers (e.g. Amazon Echo and Google Home) had more than tripled over the year, totaling 10 percent of U.S. households at the time of the report.
Smarter homes require smarter technologies
Building on this foundation, many new devices are entering the market to offer increased efficiencies for our home lives.
One of the most highly anticipated (and possibly feared) innovations is the robot. Already Roomba and other robotic vacuums are helping many people keep their floors free of debris; and robotic lawn mowers, while not yet affordable enough for mass adoption, are already on sale. According to a 2018 report by Juniper Research, domestic aide robotics like the Roomba will drive consumer robotics hardware revenues from an estimated $6.4 billion in 2018 to nearly $23 billion by 2022; an increase of over 250%.
Our homes are beginning to incorporate ubiquitous voice and gesture control. Voice today is already becoming widespread through digital assistants. Alongside gesture control, using this technology will feel even more natural. To work effectively, today’s gesture tracking technology requires depth sensors backed by high-performance computers, so it’s not yet practical for all devices. This is changing though with the help of new software and more efficient hardware. Today you can already buy products that control the lights, turn on your TV, control the thermostat and more – all with a wave of your hand – but in the future we expect the technology to blend more seamlessly into the living environment allowing consumers to interact more naturally with their smart home.