In the fast moving headline grabbing world of high tech can the smart home technology sector take a demonstrative step forward? Impact highlights the key trends underpinning sector growth.
1. Voice will continue to grow, as evidenced by the popularity of voice notes on messaging services - such as WhatsApp where over 200M voice messages are sent every day - and the rise of digital assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. Voice has the ability to create intimacy not easily achieved via text-based messaging and is more efficient compared to using a keyboard.
With Voice Chat across multiple platforms now a reality in the world of gaming, 2019 should see voice being used [more] to facilitate communications between smart home devices, and to start to breakdown the compatibility barrier that is currently limiting growth in the sector.
2. An IoT which learns a routine. One of the greatest perceived values of smart home technology, especially in younger consumers, is that of convenience. Digital assistants already have the capability to sync smart home products with daily life, for instance devices such as a coffee machine or radio that start before the homeowner rises, in anticipation of a normal morning routine.
2019 will see this capability improved and rolled out to include more products. Specifically we feel sales of smart lights and plugs, representing the cheaper, more accessible and easily understood smart home products available, are set to grow as they encourage more early adopters into the sector.
3. Innovators and disruptors will enter the smart home property development market. Airbnb announced at the end of last year its intention to build fully functioning smart homes with the ability to reconfigure to the occupant’s needs with their new venture “Backyard”. It’s likely other pioneer brands will want a piece of the action to establish their credentials early on and further their position in the sector.
It appears to be only a matter of time before all new builds have smart technology integrated into the design. With this the case, fledgling brands and start-ups will not only need to develop products that are compatible but also carve a unique proposition in the marketplace in order to gain a real competitive advantage over the larger tech giants who are focused on market monopolisation.
4. Data security will be top priority – despite focus and efforts to protect personal data, it’s likely that 2019 will see more serious data breaches. To grow the smart home sector, companies need to evidence not only that they are actively improving their cybersecurity measures, but also show transparency about the consumer data they have and more importantly why they have that data. Educating consumers on the benefits of sharing certain data will go a long way to assuage fears, but ultimately trust will be built once there is a consistency in standards and data breaches become less frequent.
5. Wearables and smart home technology will enter healthcare in earnest with a mandate to support vulnerable groups. The Apple Watch 4 can now perform an electrocardiogram; the first care robot linked to smart home technology will be able to assist dementia patients; smart houses are helping give disabled veterans independence; and companies such as Centrica and Howz are fitting monitoring systems which will alert live-out carers if there’s any deviation from routine – such as the kettle not being turned on at the usual time. Smart technology experts will increasingly place vulnerable groups at the heart of their customer strategy as brands recognise ethics, corporate responsibility and inclusivity are qualities increasingly demanded by today’s consumer.
The Smart Home Technology sector is in a period of growth and it looks to continue for the foreseeable future. Companies will need to stay agile and flexible in order to meet the ever-changing consumers’ needs and technological developments, which involves working with each other to combat compatibility challenges that consumers face. The key barrier of data security and privacy remains, but with so much of consumers’ everyday lives being replaced with new smart technologies, it is inevitable that smart homes will continue to thrive, whether it be updating existing housing or new builds with smart tech infrastructure.
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