Home appliance was the fourth largest device type in terms of unit shipments in 2016, but is poised become the most shipped device type in 2021. The reason is that many appliances are already embedded with Wi-Fi capabilities that only need to be turned on by manufacturers, according to a study by IHS Markit.
What will drive appliance manufacturers to the smart home space is the data that can be collected. But this will be a challenge for many because most manufacturers are not well positioned to manage and service connected devices. For appliance manufacturers to be successful, partnerships will be critical, especially for voice control-related partnerships.
In term of activations versus shipments, the quantity of appliances that are actually being used with a mobile app remains very small, despite many models and brands of appliances being shipped with the feature option.
The reason for low percentage of connected appliances actually being used goes back to the use cases and ease of setup. For most major appliances, a refrigerator or dishwasher will work without connectivity to the network.
Overall, appliance manufacturers need to make the setup dead simple and need to educate the customer on use cases in order to justify the process of connecting the appliance to a network.
Other Top Smart Devices to Watch
Besides home appliances, HIS said other top smart home devices to watch in terms of unit shipment growth are radiator valve, air quality sensor and smart speaker.
With the increased awareness of energy savings, radiator valves are expected to become part of smart home systems, especially in Germany and in other countries where district/common heating is popular, said IHS.
In 2016, 90 percent of smart radiator valves were shipped into Europe. By 2021, about 75 percent of radiator valves will be shipped into Europe, with Asia gaining traction, representing 24 percent of shipments in 2021.
Currently many air quality sensors available to the smart home market focus only on CO2, air temperature and humidity. More consumers will be purchasing air purifiers in addition to these sensors that detect air quality, especially in the major cities across Asia such as Beijing.
There were about 1.1 million air quality sensors shipped in 2016 globally, while Asia represented about 64 percent of total shipments. The percentage in Asia will rise to 95 percent by 2021, IHS predicted.
Smart Speaker Remains Popular
Home audio (smart speakers) will continue to be one of the most disruptive trends in smart home through 2021. The primary reason voice assistants will gain significant traction is the ability to aggregate disparate systems. Instead of using five different mobile applications in order to control smart home features, voice can be used to aggregate all control.
Although smart speakers will remain the primary form-factor for voice assistants in the smart home, home audio is also expected to gain traction. Several manufacturers and service providers are already integrating with leading speaker platforms to bring audio into the smart home. Globally in 2016, there were about 7 million smart speakers shipped.