NEWS / Smart Home

At Home with Smart Homes

April 15, 2019, 2019

Imagine this: You are woken at the perfect moment by a smart alarm, linked to your health wearable, work calendar, and the mattress you sleep on. Your smart wardrobe, linked to your calendar, then suggests the perfect outfit for today’s important meeting. Downstairs, your smart fridge, linked to your health wearable, suggests a balanced breakfast, the ingredients having been replenished in an automated order to your local grocery store. Meanwhile, your digital assistant wishes you a happy day after you ask it what the weather will be like.

The above scenario is not sci-fi, it is now. Much of the technology described above is available now or soon will be. The smart home technology market will be worth $151 billion by 2024. The market is being driven by the ubiquitous Internet of Things (IoT), smart devices like watches and health wearables, and voice assistants like Amazon Echo - Juniper Research predicting that by 2023, 8 billion voice assistants will be used by consumers.
It looks like our homes are on the road to hyper-connected, but what kind of devices will become resident with us and what impact might this have on our lives?

Are Our Homes Getting Smarter?

Some of the best-known smart home technologies include:

Digital assistants/smart speakers - Ask and you shall get, is the mantra of the digital assistant. The device is an artificial intelligence-based system that plays music, does various online tasks, and connects to other smart devices. The most popular of the digital assistants is the Amazon Echo (aka “Alexa”) holding 35.6% of the market in Q4, 2018. Google Home comes in at second most popular, with almost 30% of the market. Overall, smart speaker sales increased by 70% in Q4 of 2018.

Smart meters - A smart meter records your energy consumption and passes these data to your energy supplier. In theory, a smart meter can help to optimize energy usage across a country and reduce consumer bills. Countries such as the UK, South Korea, U.S. and Japan have introduced regulations to ensure that smart meters will have 100% uptake.

Smart beds - Just when you thought it was safe to go back to sleep, smart beds were introduced. A smart mattress keeps track of your sleep including, how often you turn over, your preferred sleep position, your heart-rate, sleep-cycles, etc. Some beds also link to your heating system to adjust the temperature, or to digital assistants to adjust lighting, open curtains, and provide wake-up calls. The market for smart beds is expected to reach $4.8 billion by 2024.

Smart security cameras - Internet-connected cameras are increasingly being used as home alarm systems. Smart cameras are also being used to take and share photos and provide the seeing eye of the digital assistant to make video calls.

The Problem with Being Too Smart

Our connected devices have the power to provide enhanced home living, but as always, with the good comes the bad. Privacy issues of smart home devices are a serious consideration when using the technology. Issues such as: Amazon Alexa being used in criminal court cases to provide evidence; IoT devices being used to carry out stalking and domestic abuse; and, smart toys being used to spy on our children. All need to be carefully monitored to provide a balanced impact on our home lives.

Are We Being Too Smart?

Smart home devices have entered our homes in an effort to enhance our lives. But we must ensure that when we digitally transform our homes, we do not also make them a creepy place to live. Smart does not need to mean less secure or disrespectful to the sanctity of our home. Being smart should be about using technology in harmony with our humanity not just to switch our lights on and off.