Smart homes are well on their way to ubiquity as we enter the 2020s. Millions of homes are now equipped with home voice assistants like Alexa, and millions more feature some kind of smart home devices like smart TVs, smart outlets and more. If there’s an essential function of your home, chances are someone has developed a plan to develop a device that can automate it and put it inside an indoor electrical box the size of a paperback book.
We’re exaggerating, but only a little bit. The rise of the smart home will profoundly shape the way our domestic spaces look and function in the future, from the way we do chores to the security of our most personal data. These are five of the most important smart home trends that will affect the development of smart home tech throughout the 2020s and beyond.
As prices drop, smart home tech will become more ubiquitous.
As popular as smart homes are now, they’re likely to get even more so. A big part of that is smart homes are getting less expensive all the time. Falling prices will mean more people taking the plunge into the world of smart homes and getting their lifestyles on the IoT grid. Inexpensive and easy-to-install technologies like smart locks and smart outlets will be among the first to gain ubiquity.
What comes after that? Popular consumer electronics like smart TVs will become even more common than they already are, and household assistants like Roombas probably won’t be far behind as they become financially accessible for more people. Then, as increasing numbers of homes accumulate critical masses of smart home technology, more people will find it makes sense for them to go for full integration and automation through a smart home hub.
Smart homes will offer improved options both for powering connected devices and for managing a building’s power supply.
Tackling the tangle of cables and wires from our device-heavy modern lifestyles is a challenge in any home, which is why Power over Ethernet (PoE) is such an exciting technology. PoE allows smart home devices to get both their power and their Internet connection from a single cable—and once it’s installed, it can be extended to any number of devices in someone’s smart home. Plus, it offers a safer and more reliable power supply than relying on numerous wall adapters.
Smart home options that conserve power and resources will also continue to improve. As devices get smarter and new homes are built, builders can combine smart home technology and energy-efficient smart devices to make homes truly intelligent in their conservation abilities. Smart devices will also become more rugged and more reliable. Some are already available in an IP68 electrical box, making them more suitable for outdoor use and critical utility-related functions.
Privacy and data security will be a make-or-break issue for smart homes.
Security is a big concern in smart homes, from minor annoyances like neighbors stealing Wi-Fi to true nightmares like smart security systems getting hacked by home invaders. As the amount of personal data and home functions people entrust to smart homes increases, it’s essential both smart home owners and IoT device manufacturers get serious about smart home security.
Better standards and regulation for IoT will be an important part of improving security in the smart home industry. Manufacturers will have to start building a higher base level of security into their IoT devices, whether that means pushing automatic security updates or offering built-in encryption. Consumers, for their part, will need to hold manufacturers accountable, as well as practicing good digital hygiene in their daily lives.
Connectivity will continue to be a major key to success in the smart home market.
To fulfill the promise of an interconnected and fully-automated home, consumers need to be able to connect their many devices, but true interconnectivity remains a challenge. The rise in powerful smart home hubs has helped, but consumers still must ensure any smart home device they buy is compatible with the same network standards as other devices in their home. That, in turn, slows adoption of the technology.
The consortium of industry leaders behind Matter, a recently-debuted IoT connectivity standard, hopes to change that through buy-in from big names like Apple, Google and Amazon. Time will tell whether this new protocol is capable of bringing together the unruly landscape of smart home connectivity standards, but one thing is for sure: The company that can do it will reap handsome rewards.
Smart homes will become a new frontier in healthcare.
Your home is already an important factor in your health, and in the era of the fully integrated smart home, it will be even more so. Medical IoT is a rapidly growing field, with some forecasts already pegging the market size at a half-trillion dollars just by 2025. As these technologies achieve greater integration with smart home devices, smart home owners can expect to use their homes as health platforms with increasing frequency.
What might that look like? It’ll be different for everyone. A senior who lives alone might have a smart system that detects falls and alerts medical personnel. Someone who takes a lot of prescription medications could ask their house to remind them which meds to take when they sit down to eat. And just about anyone will likely be able to track things like how the number of hours they sleep correlate with things like lighting choices and temperature. Plus, all of this information will be at your fingertips and ready to share with your doctor during a telemedicine appointment.
As smart home technology improves, greater numbers of consumers will begin to feel “at home” (so to speak) with the idea. When implemented carefully and securely, smart home technologies have a real chance to change our cultural concept of home for the better by 2030.