The smart home market is set to hit a whopping $53.45 billion in 2022, generating impressive revenue for companies pinning their future success on the continued rise of the “internet of things”. More importantly, though, we were promised awesome gadgets and we’re finally seeing the car-in-a-briefcase ingenuity of The Jetsons come to life. Longing for an easier way to flip on the lights or see who’s at the front door? Done and done, but those technological leaps are just a hint of what lies ahead.
Not to harp on the whole Jetsons thing, but who didn’t lay eyes on Rosie the Robot and immediately dream of dialing up U-Rent a Maid and asking for an ASAP delivery? Maidbot is already changing the face of hotel housekeeping with automated robotic cleaning systems that are improving efficiency and decreasing work-related injuries. Bring that help into the home – and add in a robotic bartender and a fancy window cleaner for good measure – and you’ll never lay a single finger on the broom or mop again.
When you’ve got friends coming in from out-of-town while you’re at work, a kid that always forgets their key, or a dogwalker answering a last-minute plea to let Rex out for a run, being able to grant third-party access to home when you’re away is practically priceless. No more worrying about extra keys floating around or fretting that your loved ones might get locked out. Just set a temporary code (it expires when you’re done with it) or press a button on your smartphone and it’s “open sesame”!
No more worrying about extra keys floating around or fretting that your loved ones might get locked out. Just press a button on your smartphone and it’s “open sesame”!
Once upon a time, a refrigerator with options for cubed and crushed ice was downright state-of-the-art. Now there are models that use barcode scanning systems to sense what groceries are on the shelves and instantly order up replacements when necessary. Samsung is connecting their new fridge models to other smart home elements; soon, you can turn up the AC, monitor your doorbell camera, and mirror the music you’re playing on your smartphone all while you’re raiding the freezer for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
Mopping up after burst pipes is practically a winter tradition in the colder parts of the U.S., but it’s a tradition most families would happily do away with. Smart home sensors are doing their part to banish accidental indoor water attractions by detecting leaks and temperature and humidity changes as they happen. The sensor can then shut off the offending pipe, send a notice to your smartphone, or both.
Small Footprint Dishwashing
It takes six gallons of water to run the average dishwasher and Energy Star-rated models only shave two gallons off that total, but Heatworks’ new Tetra is a compact dishwasher that only needs a half gallon of water to complete each 10-minute wash. Perfectly sized to sit on the countertop of a formerly washer-less home, the Tetra doesn’t need a plumbing hookup (just add tap water and go) and it doubles as a sous vide machine. All this and a cool, mod design for just $299.
Not that fumbling for four different remotes every time you want to settle in for a night of binge-watching isn’t a blast, but wouldn’t it be nice to have one device that controls the entirety of your own personal internet of things? That’s exactly what voice-command entities like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s HomeKit, and Google Home do. You can already ask for directions or try to get Siri to cough up a good riddle, but these simple tasks are just examples of first-generation functionality. Brace yourself for the ability to start your shower from another room and turn on the coffee machine before you even swing your feet out of bed. Voice-activated lightbulbs, window shades, televisions, lawn sprinklers, and garage doors – they’re all in production or already on the market.
Sure, some of these newfangled contraptions require quite the investment in return for the endless bits of spangly electronics and interconnectivity, but as more companies jump on board and production ramps up, costs will start to drop. There are European operators who may soon offer remote-control thermostat packages for just $12 per month and gadget prices don’t always have quite the sticker shock shoppers expect. It’s a cyclical system; lower prices mean more consumer purchase and more purchases mean an increased demand for bigger and better products. In that way, we could all win.
When Problems Arise
For every “why didn’t we think of that?!” invention making its way to market, there are at least two bizarre creations that nobody needs (but everyone might want). A voice-activated toilet with mood-lighting? Interesting. There also plenty of growing pains within the industry; David VanderWaal, LG’s VP of marketing, was reminded of that in vivid (and embarrassing) fashion when he attempted to demonstrate his company’s new Cloi robot a CES 2018 only to have it fail repeatedly.
There are also some very real concerns about hacking. Smart home security gadgets will be the main stop-gap between nefarious forces and your home network; in the same way that antiviral software has become commonplace on every laptop and PC, Dojo and Bitdefender Box will help protect against identity theft, stolen passwords, malware, and remote spying.
Remember how people used to be wary about online shopping for fear of their credit card information getting stolen? We predict that the convenience of smart home tech will drive companies to quickly increase security measures to make users feel completely comfortable “technofying” almost every aspect of their homes.