Smart home products have been rapidly gaining momentum over the last few years with the likes of Nest and IFTTT demonstrating the potential of the industry. There are appliances such as thermostats that are able to adjust themselves, lights that turn off when you pretend to shoot them, and lights that dim as it turns to evening. They’re moving us gradually toward the house of tomorrow and the internet of things that we were promised in so many science fiction stories, whilst saving energy at the same time. Eventually, every device, appliance and consumable in our home will communicate with everything else, and it will all work seamlessly to provide us with ultimate comfort.
It’s a slow process, of course, but every few months we’re seeing exciting new steps in the right direction. In fact, the market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 17% over the next five years, and to be worth an impressive $56.68 billion by 2020. BI intelligence says there are 1.9 billion smart home products available commercially today, and that there will be 9 billion by 2018. To put that in perspective, the latter is the number of smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, PC’s, and wearable computers combined!
And there are a lot of exciting developments driving this process, as we’ll see over the course of this article. Here’s some of the latest smart home news that adequately demonstrates where our homes are headed.
IFTTT Announces IF and DO
IFTTT is a web app that everyone who’s interested in smart home products should be using. IFTTT stands for ‘If This Then That’, and essentially allows you to set up relationships between your various online accounts, as well as a plethora of gadgets and devices. This lets you do fancy things like control your temperature through Tweets (you just need Nest and Twitter), or even adjust your lighting based on how well you slept (using a WeMo switch from Belkin and a Jawbone UP).
Now, IFTTT has changed the name of its app to become ‘IF’. Along with this comes some interesting new features in the form of ‘DO’ events. These events let you quickly perform actions at the press of a button, and this means you can set your home temperature to a useful pre-set for example, or do the same for your lighting. No doubt the smart product loving community will find many more exciting uses for this powerful tool.
A few months back now, Microsoft unveiled the Microsoft HoloLens. This is a device that might not instantly seem like it falls into the smart home category, but it certainly has many potentially uses in this area. As a headset that projects holograms into the real world, HoloLens will bring augmented reality to the home in a big way. This provides a new option for making your old tech smart – from turning the mirror over your sink into a convenient way to get an update on the weather, to seeing the temperature hovering over your thermostat.
With smart home products making such waves, it should really come as no surprise to see Google investing heavily in this space. True to form, the tech giant has been developing ‘Nest’ to deliver on their promise to reinvent unloved home products. They already have a thermostat, smoke, a CO2 alarm and a camera, and coming in 2016 is a ‘keyless lock’ that is smart enough to lock itself when you leave home without the keys. One year ago, Google launched ‘Works With Nest’ to try and encourage more developers and OEMs to get involved (you can learn more about the Cloud API here). Startups and innovators in this space would do well to keep an eye on Google who will likely lead the charge going forward alongside Samsung and Apple.
Not a month goes by, that we don’t see a ton of exciting new smart home projects come to life on Kickstarter and other platforms. Over the last few months, we’ve been introduced to:
- B.One – Which is another, particularly well-designed hub, that promises to unify all those smart home controllers.
- Nuimo – Which provides gesture and touch controls for any device that you can leave on your kitchen countertop, or bedside table.
- Smart Herb Garden – Which the makers describe as ‘technology meets your houseplants’ for growing fresh herbs at home more easily.
Netflix has also decided to jump aboard the bandwagon with a cool switch that simultaneously turns on your TV, silences your phone, dims the lights, and orders food. It’s just another example of an interesting way smart home technology can be applied.
Which of these smart home products are you interested in? Do you have any others that you’ve been impressed with recently to share with the community? What’s your suggestion for smart home devices that the world needs? Leave a comment to let us know your opinion!