WHERE WILL HOME AUTOMATION BE IN FIVE YEARS?
I was also reminded of an article I'd read elsewhere about a company about to "Kill" the smart home gateway market, an article which made me laugh.
But its not a laughing matter, and it will happen. One manufacturer WILL kill the smart home gateway market, and yes it is going to be the one we all think it is.
Who do I think will be the one to do it? Google of course.
Now I don't think they will be releasing a new product that you can use to write loads of rules and scenes, or that the price point will be so low that everyone buys it. I don't even think they will just buy up all the competition.
It's going to be SO much more than that.
Below I'll outline a few of the reasons I think we are on the cusp of something HUGE!
ITS OUT THERE ON TRIAL IN HOMES AND ON THE ROAD
AI, or Machine Learning is all around us now. Some of it we have noticed and some we haven't even realised is there.
The headline ones that everybody knows about are the Self Driving cars such as the Tesla, these use advanced Object Recognition to stay safe. Staying safe is something they are good at, with less fatalities per million miles driven by automated vehicles, so far they are proving their worth.
Google owned company Nest makes a "Smart Learning" thermostat which learns your routines. Initially you "Train" the device, you interact with it until it slowly learns when you want heat, how long it takes to warm your house and slowly you need to tell it less and less. Eventually it takes over, at least to a large degree.
There are also many more highly advanced systems that work behind the scenes monitoring CCTV systems in Cities, Stock Exchanges, in Banking looking at patterns in fraud and even advertising looking at buying and online patterns.
HOW WILL IT WORK
We are already being conditioned to use our voice to interact with our homes, we tell the lights to turn on, we ask for weather reports and add items to our shopping lists all the time.
Wouldn't it make sense to expand this? "OK Google, Pair my new Sensor", "Alexa, Search for Devices".
We just need the response "Found new Sensor, What would you like to name it?" and "Which room is this sensor in?".
Our Smart Learning (AI) Home will be able to paint a picture of your environment based on the inputs from all the devices in our homes. It will be able to tell what doors are open, what windows are closed, what temperature each room is and even who is where in the house.
Without the need for any creation of rules or scenes your house will simply learn your routines. You may start off asking for your new lamp to switch on each time you enter the room and it is dark, but your Smart Learning Home will quickly learn and will start to act before you ask.
WILL IT BE A GOOD THING FOR THE INDUSTRY AND USER
The opportunities that Smart Learning (AI) present for the User will undoubtedly improve lives.
A Home that learns when to turn off lights, turn down room temperatures and generally maximise the use of your technology, will impact your pocket directly but also have a great environmental impact.
Smart Homes that recognises People and Objects can potentially predict and report criminal activity such as intruders protecting you even more. The system could even identify a vulnerable person who for example has had a fall.
A system that looks at your Smoke Sensors, confirms temperature readings increasing or even using your cameras to confirm and self report a fire breaking out could significantly reduce damage and save lives.
Your Smart Home System could also look for unexpected results in its own actions. It instructs the lamp to turn on but the light level did not rise, or no current was drawn. It has told the radiator in the bedroom to turn on, yet detects no change in heat. These could be triggers for the Smart Home to inform you to carry out maintenance or call or even book a call out.
Most or some of these things of course can be done already to a degree, but not without needing to hire a professional to setup your system or spending many hours learning and perfecting "Rule" or "Scene" creating. To be able to access such advanced functionality with ease will change the way we live and interact with our homes forever.
What will this mean for the Smart Home Industry?
Who knows really. There will always be the need to come up with the next new product, to innovate and create. To beautify and to install the more complex sensors and power devices. It does mean as Smart Home Installers, Manufacturers and Reseller's we need to be at the top of our game to stay up to date and relevant.