Just a while ago, the Internet of Things was only a blossoming idea that many investors did not take notice of and now the industry is expected to be worth trillions by 2020.
The modern consumer has become so accustomed to receiving connectivity in most of their communication devices that the progression to other ‘things’ only seemed natural. From the programmable thermostat with Wi-Fi connectivity to tech polo shirts, the IoT is definitely revolutionising the consumer market.
All this growth also means lucrative opportunities for investors. When trading with an online broker such as CMC markets, it helps an investor to know the companies to watch out for in the IoT sector.
Which IoT technology is worth your money?
Smart homes are not the far-fetched concept they were five years ago. The market is presently filled with IoT devices that make it easy to tackle common home chores. Homeowners can now connect every switch in their houses to a single hub, giving greater control. Now you can track your HVAC system from a mobile device with the advent of smart thermostats. Refrigerators have touch screen interfaces where people can top up their groceries. A product like Amazon Echo, with its voice-activated command, has become very popular in homes. Smart bulbs are other products that have made quite an impact in smart buildings. These systems come with a range of colours that suit different settings and dimming capabilities that help with energy efficiency. The need for more intelligent appliances and home systems continues to drive things, particularly in the IoT sector. As consumers come to comprehend the benefits of home automation, demand increases. Couple that with the fact that prices keep going down and you have a thriving industry worth investing in.
A smart home can be described as a natural extension of the trend which has seen automation gradually invade all walks of human life. In a smart house, various systems like lighting, security, ventilation,., can either be preprogrammed or altered from a remote location through connected devices.
Smarthomes use other concepts like Internet of Things (IoT) as well as WiFi to constantly keep track of changes and transmit relevant information to a user. The home automation hub provides various benefits remote monitoring and control, efficient use of home resources and the creation of a unified control base.
Thus, the Smart Homes Market is in a great position to register a strong amount of growth during the forecast period of 2017-2022.
Home automation companies consider the prime growth drivers to be a few factors like: growing residential demand for advanced security and monitoring systems; more awareness among the public regarding energy conservation and its effects on climate change; the superior experience as well as convenience provided by intelligent home systems when it comes to controlling various tools at home; and a gradual transition towards automatic control of home functions rather than operating them manually in an effort to save time as well as effort.
Currently, the Smart Homes Market is being dominated by the demand emanating from North America. The various initiatives and subsidies provided by the government have encouraged the people in the region to adopt various practices which align with smart house technology.
Energy conservation, integration with a smart grid, control of water and gas are some of the areas which have received a lot of focus so far. Meanwhile, Asia-Pacific is expected to be a key future demand driver as the emerging countries located in the region look to adopt the most advanced technology in an effort to battle climate change as well as to promote sustainable living.
By Tony Jeff:
Since at least the introduction of The Jetson’s television show in 1962, the hope of a fully automated “smart home” has been an alluring and tantalizing idea. Unfortunately, though, few areas in technology have been as disappointing and elusive as smart homes that really make our lives better. There just haven’t been many “killer apps” despite lots of efforts to try to introduce technologies into our homes and the applications that have been introduced have seemed more like novelties than truly valuable innovations. I feel that is about to change, though, so I think it’s interesting to look at the growing potential for several killer apps in the home automation space.
By far the most successful smart home device has been the Nest Thermostat. This simple device replaces your home thermostat and functions in two key modes – it learns your habits and sets the heating and cooling accordingly or it allows you to change the temperature from your smart phone or tablet. The Nest Thermostat folks strongly tout their energy savings, but the energy savings aren’t appreciably more than what someone would expect from any programmable thermostat. It is much cooler to show off, though, and as more Nest connected devices come on board, the functionality will increase significantly. There are also competing smart thermostats on the market.
Another related device that I’ve followed closely is the Keen Home controllable vents. These smart vents replace the regular vents in your home and take temperature readings in each room. They can then open and close to adjust the temperature differently in each room. Keen Home had a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and is rolling out new connected solutions. I’ve personally never lived in a house that didn’t have some rooms burning up while other rooms were freezing, so I’m really looking forward to getting one of their sets soon.
One device I do have – and can’t stop showing off – is the Ring Doorbell. The Ring Doorbell replaces your regular doorbell with a motion sensing HD camera and voice conferencing system. Any motion triggers the sensor to turn on streaming video from my front door and if someone does ring the doorbell I can answer it from anywhere using my smartphone. All motion detection and ring-triggered videos are stored on the cloud and can be sent or saved as needed. My 6-year-old son recently rang the doorbell just to call me to tell me what was on his mind – which is the only video I know I’ll save so far. If an intruder triggered it or the accompanying add-on cameras, though, I’ll have that video to give to law enforcement. I can even tell the intruder in real time that the police are on the way and he is on video. The Ring Doorbell integrates with other cameras, some security systems, and other home automation systems.
Another set of devices I saw at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show is now more widely available – the BeOn smart light systems. These cool lights look just like regular light bulbs but each bulb contains a battery and smart connection system. The lights can imitate your normal light patterns when you are not at home, turn on all the lights when your doorbell rings or a fire alarm sounds. They can even run the lights for up to 5 hours when the power goes out. The coolest thing to me is their simplicity. They come out of the box ready to be plugged into a regular light socket, require almost no setup, and have a simple user interface through a key fob or smartphone.
The other major category of killer apps all focus on home connected solutions that enable easier purchases from home. Amazon introduced their Dash buttons and Walmart/Peapod have followed suit with their Hiku scanner. Both systems allow you to quickly and easily reorder household items while it’s on your mind, but they have completely different approaches. Amazon has 250 individual Dash buttons with a different brand name on them. Push the button and that specific product is ordered though Amazon Prime. Walmart’s Hiku is a scanner that connects to your smartphone and thus has a wider selection without placing 1000 logo buttons around your home. Amazon then will deliver via Amazon Prime and Walmart/Peapod do the same in their relevant delivery territories or make it available for in-store pickup.
Whether it’s Samsung’s smart refrigerator that allows you to look inside your fridge to see if you need milk from your smartphone at the grocery store, or roaming kid’s robots that act as security systems, there is no doubt smart home solutions are already hitting the market in big ways. It’s hard to say which ones will prove themselves worthy of finicky consumers, and a solution as smooth as The Jetson’s Rosie the Robot is still not quite here, but the future is certainly looking bright for smart home automation. Let’s just hope the most valuable solutions are just around the corner.
By Rich Bira
We talk a lot in the IoT industry about the interaction between product design and function—what does the device need to do and where will it live? For smart homes in particular, design isn’t just about the way a product looks and feels but about its usability in its environment. If a device requires users to change their behavior so drastically from their normal routine to utilize its function, will it survive? Practically speaking, probably not.
In the last five years, the concept of home automation and control have moved downstream, both in price and availability, and evolved into what we now call the smart home. But is it really smart? Devices might have connectivity inside that lets them communicate with each other and/or with the cloud, but how are they adding intelligence to our everyday lives?
The rise of the Amazon Echo and voice control as a point of command and control for our home’s devices have introduced an important concept in the way we think about design: frictionless and almost invisible technology. Consumers may have to bring the devices home and set them up, but then they’re able to interact with them without effort. These kinds of principles are what guide our design and manufacturing. In the last year, we’ve seen products that provides gesture control while being completely hidden under a table, counter, or even drywall, and a compact, easily mountable button that can be pressed to quickly turn on or control multiple devices simultaneously. Products like these offer customized, natural control, while disappearing into their environment.
Gesture control is another area that carries lots of potential. It’s currently transforming the healthcare industry in an effort to combat germ spread in places like hospitals. Or, imagine being able to walk into your kitchen and quickly swiping right or left to activate a “let’s cook” scene that brings up your lights, pre-heats your oven, and turns on your streaming music service as you get ready to prepare dinner. In another scenario, you’re heading to bed, and you swipe down on your nightstand to activate a “goodnight” scene that arms your home security system and turn the lights off on the first floor. Simple gestures begin to cue powerful automations that make living a little bit simpler. This technology moves the smart home behind the scenes, to where it’s mostly hidden and the modern conveniences and safety that it brings are the only things visible.
The other powerful way the IoT is being woven into our homes is via artificial intelligence; increasingly, platforms are adding functionality that learns consumer behaviors in the home and then adapts to make the home fit their needs and lifestyle without any user inputs. Applicable products lets users teach their devices behaviors and in turn the devices can make suggestions and provide alerts based on those behaviors. For example, Fibaro’s Motion Sensor recognizes when a room has inactivity and can send a notification to the user to ask if the lights should be turned off or the alarm set. It also has the ability to monitor temperature and make adjustments where it makes sense. A flood sensor can detect leaks and send an immediate alert to the user to minimize the risk of flooding and can even shut down connected devices that may be an electrical risk or a water shut-off valve to avoid disasters.
Today’s world is fast-moving and consumers don’t have the patience for any device that doesn’t remove a step or provide a substantial benefit. Companies moving towards machine learning and automation see value in designing an almost invisible IoT—one that delivers convenience, safety, and security without asking for too much in return. The technology that’s as intelligent as human instinct, responsive to behavior, and completely effortless to control will rule the smart home and will stand the test of time.