What Does the Smart Home of the Near Future Look Like?

August 7, 2019 - 8 minutes read

The Internet of Things (IoT) is revamping numerous industries. Soon, it will also redefine how we live. In just ten years, many of our homes will be transformed by IoT development.

Combined with artificial intelligence (AI), IoT will allow our homes to learn about their inhabitants and anticipate their needs. Machines will lend a hand for every errand and chore. And embedded sensors will keep an eye on our health automatically. With IoT’s ability to push, pull, and act upon data and AI’s ability to analyze it, our living spaces will resemble “The Jetsons” more so than what we live in today.

Welcome home.

The Smart Home Market Is About to Take Off

By 2022, 63 million US homes will be categorized as “smart,” according to Swedish research firm Berg Insight. That’s almost half of the total number of US homes in 2018 (130 million).

Each smart home could contain a variety of capabilities. Maybe you have motion-sensing cameras embedded everywhere so you can watch your dog while you’re at work. Or maybe you threw in a little extra for a drone delivery pad on your rooftop. Either way, one thing’s certain: your smart home probably cost a pretty penny.

According to tech advisory firm ABI Research, consumers will spend approximately $123 billion on IoT technology by 2021. And this number is expected to increase with more time. To prepare for this onslaught of spending, device makers and manufacturers are pouring both their marketing and R&D resources into various IoT niches based on projections.

Per research firm IDC, security gadgets will comprise 22.6% of the smart home market share by 2023. After this category, smart speakers make up the next biggest share, with 15.4% of the market. Last but not least, smart lighting equipment comes in third with 11.8% of market share.

7 billion IoT devices are already connected and in use according to IoT Analytics. But as smart home technology becomes more refined, streamlined, and ubiquitous, its adoption will only gain more momentum. According to IDC, “sustained growth is expected to continue.”

Smarter Homes = Healthier & Happier Occupants

Today, you probably use AI in some capacity. Whether you leverage an AI-powered smart speaker to get news updates or you rely on AI recommendations to tell you what to binge-watch next, this technology is already everywhere. Soon, it could serve as the central brain for your entire home.

Imagine if you had AI that learned about each occupant in your house and helped automate your tasks, coordinate your activities, and manage all of your connected devices. For instance, Crestron Electronics is developing habit-tracking software that can learn your preferences for music and lighting. Once it has enough data, it can play the right music at the right time or set the mood through dimmed lighting.

With IoT and AI seamlessly merged, robots will take on more roles around the household of the future. We’re all familiar with iRobot’s Roomba taking care of vacuuming duties. But what robots could also change up your living room layout on command? That’s exactly what Boston-based developer Ori Living is aiming to achieve with its robotic pieces of furniture that change to fit your needs. For instance, imagine if your bedroom could transform into an office while you get ready for the day.

There are many smart home concepts like Ori Living’s robots that are currently in the making. Hamburg, Germany-based company Design3 recently displayed CARL, its home security robot. Covered in fabric, CARL can travel around your home to ensure there are no intruders, detect harmful emissions, and watch your pets. Tech titan Nvidia is entering the smart kitchen arena with a robotic arm that can act as your own personal chef. With the help of cameras, it can accomplish an array of tasks from chopping up produce to washing the dishes.

In ten years, Nvidia’s sous chef will be far from the only device outfitted with sensors in your kitchen. Soon, your refrigerator may suggest healthier snacks to you by detecting and analyzing its contents. With similar technology, medicine cabinets and bathroom mirrors may soon be able to check if you took your prescription or if you have an impending illness, respectively. This concept will even extend to your toilets, where sensors will analyze human waste for any unusual health indicators before it’s flushed down the drain.

Are Intelligent Homes an Inevitability?

For all the immense benefits that smart homes of the future offer, there are certainly a few risks worth being cognizant of. IoT already suffers from several serious cybersecurity issues. And if they aren’t addressed, consequences could only grow more severe.

Our smart homes will learn more about us than ever before. Imagine what a nefarious party could do with this data. They could peer into every area of our home if they gained access to our smart camera system. They could know when we’re gone from the house and when we return. And they could even unlock our front doors.

Cybersecurity will be a paramount concern for all smart home occupants. And if a massive data breach occurred, it could stop the smart home momentum dead in its tracks. It would be a catastrophic moment for many industries. “I call it a mass-extinction event for the Internet of Things,” says Daniel Cooley, the Chief Strategy Officer of Silicon Labs, an electronic component manufacturer.

It’s important we solve all security issues with IoT. Because whether you mean to or not, one day, it’s likely that you could end up in a connected home. Michael Gardner, an architect and founder of construction company Luxus Design Build, says that more homes are being built “smart” from the start.

Someday, society will come to see the technology behind smart homes as essential, like air conditioning, electricity, and more recently, the Internet. Are you ready for this future? It’s right around the corner.

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