2018 mart home

How’s 2018 shaping up for the smart home so far?

It’s crazy that we’re halfway through the year already. It feels like it was only yesterday that we were waving goodbye to 2017 and cheering hello to 2018. To bring in the new year, we posted a blog titled, What does the future of the smart home look like in 2018 and beyond?, listing some of the biggest smart home trends we expected to see in South Africa this year. So now that we’re 6 months in, let’s have another look and see if any of these predictions have actually come true or are on their way to coming true.

1. Artificial Intelligence is here in a big way

One of our biggest predictions was that artificial intelligence (AI) would be the breakout star of smart home technology in 2018. A big player at the Las Vegas Electronics Consumer Show back in January, leading tech companies like LG, Samsung and Panasonic were quick to promise AI capabilities in their products this year.

What’s happened?

From cars to cooktops, we expected to soon be living in a world where even our smart products can anticipate and deliver on our needs. But was 2018 the tipping point like we predicted? Just as brands like LG and Samsung promised, we’re starting to see AI creep into our smart homes. Some of the products to already enter the market with AI capabilities this year include:

ThinQ AI by LG
LG has committed to AI in a big way in 2018, announcing that all their products will be able to be controlled by their ThinQ AI. Devices can recognise your voice, and, through video, sensor and human body detection, will even learn and refine tasks and settings through analysis over time.

Some examples include:

  • Washers – Learns how you like to wash certain types of clothing and automatically apply to those settings
  • Air conditioners – Knows who is in the room and can adjust the temperature based on their preferences
  • Refrigerators – Has a touch panel in the door which shows what you have in the fridge, their expiration dates and put them on a shopping list for you when they’re finished

Bixby by Samsung
Samsung has also committed to its SmartThings smart home family of products this year by making controlling its appliances and devices even easier using AI via Bixby voice control. Bixby is able to recognise each person in your household and gears its response to an individual’s account or preferences.

But the question remains: Where is AI going? Does anyone really need to talk to their house to make it do things it would only take a second to do? Yes, turning your lights on and off only takes a few seconds and yes, changing the thermostat is as easy as pushing a button – but now you can do all that while sitting down, from a different room or if your hands are full.

While it’s easy to write off AI for the smart home as a novelty, if you consider all of its applications and just how vulnerable us humans can be at times, you begin to appreciate its value. So while it’s still in its infancy, there’s a growing trend towards an AI reality. These tools are working to make themselves more useful to the common homeowner and if they continue on this course, it won’t be long before everyone has them.

2. Integration will be a breaking point

Another prediction we made was that home integration was set to continue in 2018. Coming off a strong year in 2017, smart home products provide us with the comfort and convenience to make our lives easier, which is an exciting concept for homeowners. Therefore, we expected the products that successfully integrate with other products to be the ones to thrive this year – and the ones unable to adapt to be left behind.

What’s happened?

An overarching theme at this year’s Mobile World Congress was centralised home automation, where users can control every connected appliance and device in their homes. With a specific focus on voice activation, digital assistants like Alexa, Bixby and Google Assistant paved the way in 2017 and 2018 is expected to follow suit.

In fact, we’ve already seen multiple features converge into single devices this year, with 2018 marking the rise of all-in-one devices that combine multiple functions such as speakers, cameras, hubs, lighting and more.

And with the number of connected products predicted to triple and reach a massive 75 billion devices installed worldwide, integration is clearly a top priority moving forward both here in South Africa and around the globe. So it’s the innovative smart home connectivity solutions that aim to create a smooth, connected environment with unified control for users that will continue to gain popularity this year and beyond.

3. Security and surveillance is in focus

Finally, we predicted safety and security to become one of the biggest focuses of the smart home in South Africa in 2018. With burglary still a prominent issue in this country, surveillance is a top priority for many South African households.

Responding to this need, we expected security to be one of the main focuses of smart home products moving forward. With many experts agreeing that the most effective way to prevent criminals from gaining access to your property is through a layered security system, smart tech offers this added protection.

What’s happened?

2018 promised to be an interesting year for the smart home and security industry and so far this prediction is shaping up to be true. We’re beginning to see new products and solutions designed to give us more peace of mind enter the market. Some main trends we’re noticing include:

  • More and more cord-cutting solutions – The cord cutting phenomenon is truly upon us. With even more choices for consumers to cut the cord, the cord cutting experience has become even easier, seamless and versatile in 2018. Not to mention the security benefits it provides homeowners by adding an extra obstacle for intruders to tackle when attempting to break in!
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning in the home security space – Showcasing solutions that embed powerful machine learning algorithms, more sophisticated video search capabilities are on their way in 2018. So far we’ve seen enormous advances in the mitigation of false alerts and the ability to better search and analyse the growing amount of both public and consumer monitored video.
  • Always-on connected devices – It’s not just at a physical security level that we’ve seen advancements. In 2018, some forward-thinking security companies are already developing new products to protect home networks at a device level. After the Apple HomeKit bug made smart locks vulnerable to hacking, privacy has been a main concern and 2018 is shaping up to be the year to straighten it out.

The year of the smart home is upon us, and the connected lifestyle awaits. For more information on how you can integrate smart products like our MyLights and MyAir into your own home, contact MyPlace Africa today.