While you might have a fully automated home packed with smart home devices that all play nicely together, smart home tech is still relatively young.
Combine this infancy with the warp speed at which technology continues to develop, and it's an exciting time for you, the consumer.
So, as we edge ever closer toward that fabled 2020, how is smart home tech likely to develop in the imminent future?
Today, we’ll briefly touch on some of the directions in which smart tech is moving. We'll jump straight in with 5G and how it will impact the Internet of Things.
5G for Smart Devices
Last week we drilled down on the current state of play with 5G. This new generation of wireless comms will be a game-changer in far more ways than previous iterations.
How will 5G impact the smart home, though?
There’s a disconnect with the Internet of Things in its current incarnation.
Most of these things have no connection to the Internet at all. The IoT is fragmented due to weak WiFi, a lack of uniform protocols and the restrictions of LTE.
A uniform, energy-saving standard would improve user experience substantially so how might 5G plug that gap?
Previous wireless standards, from WiFi and Bluetooth LE to Zigbee and Z-Wave all come with limitations, and there’s also that lack of uniformity muddling things further. Interoperability could be vastly improved, as anyone who's struggled with matching up different devices knows only too well.
5G, on the other hand, could allow devices to communicate with each other directly while addressing issues of range and latency that different blight standards. Incompatibility would also be a thing of the past.
So, it remains to be seen if this high-bandwidth, low-latency network will deliver a more seamless smart home experience. We feel it has great potential, but there’s still the severe issue of power consumption to negotiate.
We predict that in the short term, 5G will start by improving the general performance of smart devices but a real paradigm shift is not likely to occur in the next year or two. Let's face it. We still need to get 5G fully up and running on our phones first!
More Practical Robot Solutions in The Home
We took a look into LG’s CLOi range, getting broader and deeper all the time.These robots are now deployed in South Korea's Incheon airport while many use cases are developing for the hospitality industry. What about robots solutions in the smart home, though?
While they might not look like the robotic helpers touted in sci-fi movies. Robotic vacuums, and lawnmowers and already thoroughly entrenched in our homes.
Although 2019 is not going to be the year lifelike robots penetrate our homes en masse, there's likely to be an essential move away from single-usage products toward more multi-tasking solutions.
The continuing evolution of digital assistants has laid firm foundations for the human interface capabilities required to ensure robots are intuitive, useful and user-friendly. AI and machine learning are also soaring ever-onward.
From mobile robotic solutions like Temi, a tablet on wheels, to the innovations LG are bringing about with CLOi. The time is ripe for robots to start helping you more. From family-friendly and fun social solutions through home monitoring these devices and robots will help with smart home integration. Expect things to step up a gear on the robot front over the coming year.
WiFi 6 To Combat Congestion
What is WiFi 6 and why should you care?
Formally expressed as 802.11ax, this new standard in wireless connectivity brings far more than a boost in speed to the table.
If you have a large family all multiple toting devices and a stable of smart home tech, chances are your WiFi network is congested even if you've invested in a mesh system and you have respectable speeds and coverage.
WiFi 6 boasts two advantages beyond raw pace salient for the smart home of 2019:
- The ability to handle competing requests for bandwidth far more efficiently and intelligently
- A dramatic improvement in battery life for devices through the enhanced range and swifter data transmission
The number of devices per household shows no sign of diminishing, and this new wireless standard will add a vital extra layer of security to your smart home with the WPA3 protocol while also reducing congestion.
Expect far more benefits in your connected home than a simple pick-up in speed with WiFi 6.
While both Samsung and Apple have rolled out "wireless charging," there's a hitch and a reason we used those quotation marks.
The technology behind inductive charging has been around for a couple of decades, and you need two surfaces both touching each other for it to work and is not the same as wireless charging even if there’s no cord involved.
Wi-Charge, on the other hand, uses a safe and invisible light to charge your smartphone across a room but the implications extend beyond this and into your connected home in general.
Are you suffering from the twin bugbears of insufficient power outlets and batteries in smart devices continually crying out for replacement? If so, this FDA-approved solution could enable you to use far more IoT devices with much less hassle.
We’re eager to see how the tech underpinning wireless charging can pivot into providing a superior smart home experience.
Entirely New Use Cases
One of the difficulties of making predictions with technology is the way utterly new use cases tend to crop up unexpectedly and change the game seismically.
For you, the consumer, this is not a problem but a world of exciting possibilities.
From appliance diagnostics to improved energy conservation, the tech in our homes is becoming ever more extensive.
As we edge toward 2020, expect the unexpected.
The Continued Development of AI
The smart speaker wars are still in full swing with the underlying AI-powered digital assistants the core reason most consumers invest.
As voice recognition gets ever smarter, it’s natural to assume you’ll soon be able to give more complex instructions and offload more tasks to your faithful virtual butler.
AI is likely to take an increasingly pro-active role in security and surveillance systems with threat detection and alerts becoming more personalized.
There's also the way AI will push on concerning the robots we mentioned, too. There’s also the issue of virtual reality and augmented reality which we’ll touch on below.
Artificial intelligence is one area where it’s tough to call what will happen next. What we can safely say is that AI will continue to permeate the smart home in more helpful and in broader ways as we move toward 2020. With AI baked into almost everything, you soon won’t need to be too smart to use smart home tech.
A Shift From Platform Lock-In to Cross-Compatibility
One of our high hopes for the near future is an increasing emphasis on cross-compatibility.
It’s natural and also understandable for manufacturers to want to lock you into their ecosystem. For you, the consumer, it’s a tiresome affair when you need to agonize over compatibility in a massively fragmented market with clashing protocols and lock-ins spoiling the user experience.
How smart brands play nicely together needs to improve, and we expect to see a greater focus on compatibility than closed systems. After all, it's also valuable for manufacturers if you can use their devices with more devices from other brands you already have in place. For you as the connected homeowner, broadened cross-compatibility will make the buying decisions that much more relaxed and offer you a more excellent choice into the bargain.
Smart Home Tech Migrating Into the Workplace and Beyond
With smart homes more the norm than the exception now, our expectations outside the house become more ambitious.
5G, once fully deployed and more mature, will have enormous ramifications for smarter cities.
More and more offices will start adopting smart technology throughout replicating the convenience you have at home in the workplace.
Many companies already embrace the energy-saving and cost-efficient technologies like smart lighting. As we explored recently, improved lighting can lead to an upswing in your mental health and productivity at work benefiting you as well as the employer.
A migration of tech from home to workplace to city-wide tech is already fully underway and only set to expand aggressively.
Continued Rise of Smart Health Care
With life expectancy increasing worldwide and healthcare costs sky-high, the time is ripe for disruption in healthcare.
Wearables are offering more and more insight into your overall health and are set to skyrocket as smartwatches and wristbands become more penetrating in their diagnostic abilities. The new Apple Watch, as we investigated recently, is ECG-enabled.
There is likely to be a continued focus on smart health care for the elderly so you won’t need to worry about leaving your aging parents unattended.
Digital healthcare options from Chatbot technology fuelled by AI to telemedicine will soon start changing the traditional healthcare landscape skewing it more in your favor.
Over the past few years, virtual reality (VR) has garnered most press with augmented reality (AR) rising stealthily in its wake.
VR has a relatively narrow range of applications, though.
AR, on the other hands, doesn’t call out for headsets so expect AR technologies to become more commonplace on mobile devices. Expect to see an explosion in AR apps.
If anything goes wrong with your smart home gear, you’ll be able to enjoy more fruitful dialogues with providers and customer care as AR keeps on evolving.
Once the preserve of video gaming and gimmicks, R+ (an umbrella term for virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality) will start to have much more practical use cases with no need for that hulking headset.
A Saturated Smart Phone Market
Have you become less and less inclined to upgrade your smartphone?
Setting aside novelties like the advent of folding phones that’s now upon us, it’s been some time since a new handset offered anything particularly valuable or radically different from the one you already own.
It’s telling that Apple will stop reporting iPhone sales and indicative of a slow-down to the point of market saturation with smartphones in general.
Apple CFO Luca Maestri reiterated the company’s core objective to make outstanding products and services “that enrich people’s lives.” He added that sales units of phones are no longer so relevant for the Cupertino giant given the “breadth of our portfolio.”
With Huawei falling out of favor with the west and the price of line-topping cell phones now breaching $2000, we predict a continued stagnation in smartphones.
Until that is, the next unexpected technological advance brings us something more universally appealing than a folding screen.
Kitchens and Bathrooms Getting Smarter
Kitchens and bathrooms are both areas of the connected home that haven’t taken off quite as rapidly as others.
More and more kitchen appliances, though, are becoming smarter. From scales hooked up to recipe apps, smart fridges, crockpots, and induction cookers, there's plenty already in place. We looked at some of the best smart kitchen appliances right here, and we're confident more and more voice-enabled devices will take the sting out of meal prep and cooking as we approach 2020.
Kohler’s Konnect range is not cheap but offers a comprehensive solution for smartening up your bathroom with everything from heated toilets and smart showers to voice-activated mirrors and perfect fill tubs.
When you think about how much time you spend in the kitchen and the bathroom, streamlining and automating the experience is the next logical step. If you haven’t started already and you’re stuck for ideas, here are ten ways to smarten up your bathroom.
With Samsung’s Fold jostling for position with Huawei’s Mate X, folding phones are now a reality. Apple is also reportedly investigating this form factor for upcoming handsets.
Expect folding technology to take a detour into TVs, laptops, and tablets as it gains more currency and increased adoption.
While these developments are not likely to hit the shelves in the coming year, we’re sure to see an increase in foldable devices by 2020 so how do you see this technology moving forward? Is it something you're even interested in and how will those folding screens hold up to extended and potentially rough handling?
These questions are still to be answered, but the future looks rosy for foldable as of right now.
Will There Be a Global Security Breach?
With all these exciting new developments, one white elephant remains in the room.
Will, there will a full-scale and global security breach?
We’re not here to whip up a frenzy or scaremonger. The thing is, with a flurry of Facebook scandals, a growing mistrust of Huawei in terms of security, more smart devices than ever and more data being shared, the issue of cybersecurity is becoming more relevant for the average consumer than ever before.
While sharing our digital footprint can lead to many apparent advantages in terms of convenience, how about sharing our physical footprint with smart home tech?
Hackers are getting smarter, 5G will open new avenues for those with ill intentions, and some form of a security breach is almost inevitable.
Rather than panicking, check out our upcoming piece on the security risk of Internet of Things devices and how to fight back. Be proactive and take sensible precautions.
Beyond that, the onus falls firmly on manufacturers to keep doing their part and to focus on security more now than ever before.
What do you think about our trend predictions for smart home tech from 2019 to 2020?
We’ve tried to stick firmly to developments highly probable to gain significant traction rather than veering into the more ambitious and hopeful.
One thing is sure: the coming year will be an exciting time for you, the consumer. We'll continue to bring you all the latest smart home news, and we've got some outstanding new products to explore for you, too. So, bookmark this blog and come back soon!
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