Home is Where the Smart is: What to Expect from the Smart Home in 2018

MyLights smart home LED Lighting system

There’s no doubt about it: 2017 was the year of the smart home. In fact, the general consensus at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas at the start of the year was that 2017 was going to be the year of the smart home and so far they have showed no signs of being misinformed.

Today’s homes are becoming smarter with connected devices making their way into millions of households across the world. As connected homes become more accessible to the masses and the expectations of consumers change, the rapid advances in smart home products is only expected to reach greater heights.

So what should South African homeowners expect to see from the smart home in the new year? Here’s our top predictions for the hottest smart home technology trends to take 2018 by storm.

What is a Smart Home?

First thing’s first – what exactly is a smart home? As the idea of the smart home and other related terms continue to grow in popularity, there’s become a bit of confusion around what a smart home actually is. So, what makes a home smart?

Smart home products are digitally connected and controlled devices within a household that directly or indirectly communicate via a gateway to the Internet and with one another. Their main purposes are the control, monitoring and regulation of functions within the home to achieve advanced goals.

The remote control monitoring of individual devices and, if applicable, their direct communication with one another (Internet of Things), is an essential component of intelligent home automation and is what makes these smart products smart.

MyPlace Africa’s Predictions

Voice and AI to Dominate

Smart home products are making their way into every part of our lives. In 2017 we saw an absolute explosion of smart products for the home at every life stage. From robots that read bedtime stories to your kids to devices that feed your cat and play with your dog, there’s a smart product out there for everything.

And now thanks to recent technological developments, voice recognition and artificial intelligence (AI) are taking smart home products to the next level. In fact, smart home products were expected to be the fastest growing segment in the Internet of Things (IoT) sector, with a predicted global growth of over 57% within the next 3 years.

So while these AI-powered devices are expected to move into more and more homes in the new year, they still have their limitations. As convenient as this technology can be by allowing you to use your voice to control it, new home automation devices to market such as the Google Home and Amazon Echo come with their own set of consumer privacy risks. They’re programmed to listen for certain keywords to wake them up to do their jobs, which has put into question this past year whether they can be trusted to maintain privacy.

As these devices are voice only, there’s also the chance that they will not understand what you’re asking it no matter how advanced the natural language processing and machine learning capabilities are.Therefore, increasing privacy and focusing on the user experience such as the quality of conversation design and practical implementation will be the differentiator between successful and unsuccessful brands moving forward.

As a result, a big task for tech giants in 2018 will be preparing to add extra features in an attempt to make the devices more useful and secure.

Working out the Kinks

Despite all the growth and improvement in the smart home market, one of the major concerns going into 2017 was that many of the smart home products being sold didn’t work reliably or sometimes didn’t work at all. With defects in some of the products seen as leading the field, there’s clearly still a long way to go.

For example, many of these standalone systems are very limited in regards to the other systems they’re compatible with. For example, when it comes to smart lighting the Google Home is only compatible with Phillips Hue. On top of this, many of these new automated wireless systems become disabled when switched off.

As a result, we will see more reliable smart home products boasting the 4 C’s (comfort, control, convenience and connectivity) begin to take over the market. At the end of the day, people crave convenience and the main appeal of smart products is to make their lives simpler. So if a device cannot consistently achieve this for the owner, then they will not be of use to them.
Therefore in 2018 we expect to see the continued dominance of the smart home and interconnected products that lend their users complete control and convenience, and for those products that cannot keep up to fade into the background.

Connectivity is King

In order for the smart home to reach critical mass, separate devices need to get better at communicating. So in 2017 companies began to understand that their products, no matter how cool, couldn’t exist in a bubble by themselves. As a result, we began to see interconnection move the smart home forward and in 2018 this is only expected to grow.

Control hubs to connect sensors and actuators with remote controls and to each other will take the smart home to the next level in the new year. And as daily life drifts further and further online, we have come to expect a superior level of convenience.

That’s why we give you MyPlace – the dedicated device for controlling your homes air conditioning and lighting systems. The MyPlace touch screen control panel was purposely built to be able to effortlessly integrate MyAir and MyLights so you can adjust your air con and LED lights from one centrally located hub that’s always powered and wall mounted so it never goes missing in action.

On top of managing MyLights and MyAir, the MyPlace tablet can be used like any other Internet connected smart device. Intuitive to use, the MyPlace home hub can run other smart systems, which simplifies the amount of control panels you needed. Load it up with Android apps for your alarm system, CCTV cameras, security gates, Sonos, reticulation, curtains and much more. You can also keep track of the family’s calendar, check emails, order groceries, play music, pay bills and so much more.

What are your thoughts? We cannot wait to see how it unfolds in 2018, but one thing we know for sure is that it’s going to be a huge year for smart home technology! For more information about taking your home to the next level with smart products like MyAir and MyLights, contact MyPlace Africa today.