The Future of Smart Home Technology
Not too long ago, the idea of most household appliances being connected to the internet would seem futuristic. Today, that very idea has become our daily reality, with smart bulbs intelligently changing light temperature based on the time of the day, refrigerators keeping track of expiration dates, and thermostats being activated remotely via mobile devices.
What’s perhaps even more fascinating than the speed with which the current wave of smart home technology has entered our daily lives is how much room for growth there still is. According to Zion Market Research, the smart home market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.5 percent between 2017 and 2022, reaching $53.45 billion by 2022.
Much of this growth will be due to large tech companies investing heavily in the Internet of Things (IoT), a major enabler of smart home technology. For example, Samsung announced this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that it wants to be “IoT-ready” by 2020.
“We’re committed to accelerating IoT adoption for everyone and making all Samsung connected devices intelligent by 2020. These advancements will help consumers realize the benefits of a seamless and simple connected life,” said Hyun-Suk Kim, a Director of Samsung Electronics Co.
But the future of smart home technology is not only more connected—it’s also more intelligent. Amazon and Google want their virtual assistants to be able to recognize and respond to human emotions. Research company Gartner believes that we will soon reach the point where smart home devices know more about us than our close family.
Being more humane would allow smart home technology to be more effective. “There’s a lot of ways these things [conversational agents] can persuade you to lead more productive, healthier, happier lives. But in my opinion, they can’t get there unless they have empathy,” said Affectiva CEO Rana el Kaliouby. “And you can’t do that without affective computing, or what we call ‘artificial emotional intelligence.’”
It must be stressed, however, that the more we allow smart home technology to creep into every aspect of our lives, and the more knowledgeable this technology becomes about our habits, desires, and daily troubles, the larger security, and privacy risk it will represent. The largely insecure Internet of Things has already enabled some of the worst malware outbreaks in the history of the internet, and the consequences of lackluster smart home security could be much worse.
To ensure that the smart home technology of the future makes our lives better, manufacturers, policymakers, and consumers must all address many difficult security and privacy problems that shape this industry.
The future of smart home technology looks bright. Responding to growing consumer demand, companies are innovating their existing products by introducing internet connectivity and artificial intelligence capabilities. Just like any emerging technology, smart home technology isn’t without its share of privacy and security concerns, and it will be interesting to see how manufacturers and policymakers address them over the course of upcoming years.