Building the Smart Home of the Future: Trends in Home Automation
Imagine if you got home from your winter break holidays to find the lights on, the heaters working and the house already warm, your favourite music playing as you walk in and the TV set, ready to stream the latest episode from the series you have been following religiously – and all that because on the drive home you pushed a couple of buttons on an app on your smartphone. This isn’t science fiction anymore; it is the future and it is here. Welcome to your very own smart home, where everything is automated and you can control it from afar.
Home Automation: Building Your Own Smart Home
Home automation lies at the heart of a smart home, which allows you to control essential aspects of living in a house like appliances, lighting, heating and air conditioning, as well as entertainment systems. These aspects are connected and controlled from a central interface, which could even be a mobile app for remote control. As more and more appliances every day are connected to the internet, home automation becomes increasingly linked to what has been dubbed the Internet of Things. Smart homes are the next big thing in consumer trends, with the US leading the way: in 2015, the US was home to 4.6 million smart homes, a number that is projected to reach 24.5 million households in 2020, with Japan coming in second at 3.3 million smart homes by 2020, Germany 2.4 million, China 2.1 million and the UK in fifth place with 1.5 million households that will have discovered the joys of going smart.
Prominent in the first wave of smart devices were smart speakers that would employ wireless technology – but we have come a long way since then. Amazon with its Alexa-equipped Echo devices has been a pioneer in that regard. Its Echo smart speakers are now in the second generation – a much improved version – and you can get them with Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant. Alexa is named after the legendary library of Alexandria, arguably because there is so much it knows and can do for you . You can simply speak into the Echo smart speakers and ask Alexa to play a song for you, or dim the lights, answer any question you might have, control other smart appliances, or even order a pizza. The Alexa/Echo combo is a big bet for Amazon and it is already paying off as it establishes Amazon as a market leader, which has rightly put CEO and founder Jeff Bezos on the top of Betway Casino’s millionaire to billionaire journeys list with a fortune of $90 billion. Bezos also went from millionaire to getting his first billion within just two years, according to the list, becoming a billionaire at 35. His Alexa virtual assistant in some ways resembles Apple’s legendary Siri that also responds to requests, but it can do so much more.
Comprehensive Smart Solutions
Lately, Google has also infiltrated the smart speaker market, long dominated by Amazon, with its latest edition of the Google Home smart speakers. In fact, CNBC has reported that Google Home may have surpassed Amazon Echo for the first time in Q1 2018. According to one research firm, Google shipped 3.2 million of its smart speaker units in the first quarter of 2018, while Amazon shipped just 2.5 million Echo units – but that research differs from what other firms have come up with. Whatever the case, the smart speaker market seems like a competitive race, especially with the latest addition of Apple’s HomePod. Yet, the smart home market is so much more than speakers and virtual assistants. There are also smart lighting solutions, from Syska Smartlight Rainbow LED smart bulbs to the Oakter Smart Home Kit, complete with a hub and the more widely known Philips Hue range of wireless colour changing and white bulbs that you can control from afar.
There are also comprehensive smart solutions in the security and access field, ranging from smart doorbells with video recognition to smart locks and outdoor cameras – there are even smart fire and CO detectors or flood sensor devices. Ecobee4 is a smart thermostat that lets you control the temperature of your home when you are away – and it comes with Amazon Alexa already installed in it. What might the future of smart homes be? Probably just that: increasing the interconnections. The Phillips Hue range already works with all major smart systems, as it can be integrated with Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant or Nest.
As more and more smart devices are marketed, expect ever-growing integration solutions that let you build an all-around smart home – one where you can truly control everything with a comprehensive smart system.