A prominent theme this year at CES was the smart home–there seemed to be value in connecting to the Internet every object in the home. Another was wearables, which, in essence, turns the user into a connected device. A noticeable trend was the slow death of “home automation” as a buzzword. In its place, terms like “smart home” and “connected home” became dominant.
Home automation has been around for more than a decade, but has remained relatively stagnant until recent years. Multiple factor contribute to the revisited interest. US telcos have poured significant resources into market education, helping consumers better understand how they can benefit from an automated home. Another reason the pace of development has accelerated is because advances in manufacturing and wireless technologies. And then, of course, there’s price–no longer do smart home systems come with a hefty price tag and require professional installation.
At its core, however, the smart home market has benefited greatly from the prevalence of smartphones and the emergence of the app economy. In many markets, more than half of the population keep in their pocket a powerful, handheld, multipurpose computer that features a large screen display, numerous sensors, and is always connected. The most obvious implication this has for users is inexpensive remote video surveillance that allows them to keep an eye on their home, whether they’re mainly interested in enforcing curfew’s for children, keeping an eye on pets, or for security purposes. With a little imagination, however, the possibilities are endless.