Being forced to largely stay home for months on end gives you time to evaluate how your house is working out for you. It didn’t matter whether you lived alone or found yourself constantly tripping over kids, laundry, pets, and groceries. In 2020, we all quickly learned that our homes, like us, needed to work a little smarter.
That realization is just one factor fueling the growth projected for the smart home sector over the next five years. Estimates put household penetration of smart home tech at 40% in 2021 and at 57.2% by 2025. And smart home market revenues are expected to leap from $28.8 billion in 2021 to $46.7 billion by 2025.
The statistics are nearly as overwhelming as you might be finding the marketplace right now. What can you expect in the next half-decade? Here are five trends to watch.
1. Superfast Internet Will Accelerate
One of the first noticeable effects of the pandemic was home internet speed. It was plenty sluggish when every device in your house was accessing it. Having every human in every house on your block logging on at the same time only made matters worse.
If you didn’t have high-speed internet, you found yourself in a world of hurt. And anyone whose internet provider capped their data probably found the situation intolerable.
The fact is that the post-pandemic world won’t go back to the good old days. Employers have discovered their employees can be just as productive working from home. Online education is booming. Gyms have lost their luster for many who now have state-of-the-art connected home fitness equipment. With all the streaming options available, some film lovers will abandon crowded movie theatres forever.
What all these scenarios have in common is the need for speed on a wide array of devices. Users will increasingly turn to fiber optic providers to provide connectivity that trumps cable in speed and reliability. The Internet & Television Association estimates that home internet speeds will reach 10 Gbps by 2025. That should keep every device firing on all cylinders.
2. Safety and Security Will Reign Supreme
Smart homes will increase the focus on security in two ways. First, people will install increasing numbers of security devices for the home itself. Think streaming cameras on doorbells and in garages, yards, and other areas.
Purchases of keyless entry systems, door and window sensors, and smoke, flood, and carbon monoxide alarms will also increase. Whether you’re going to be spending more time at home or returning to the office, you want to feel secure.
Second, people will need to be assured of the security of Internet of Things (IoT) devices as they add more smart appliances and systems. All that smart tech requires apps and internet connectivity, which could leave homes vulnerable to hacking.
A 2020 study showed 98% of traffic to IoT devices remains unencrypted. That’s a problem the industry seems poised to address. A $2.2 billion market in 2019, the IoT security market is expected to exceed $20.7 billion by 2027.
Look for devices to improve capabilities for unique passwords, anti-virus software, and device segmentation to eliminate single-point vulnerabilities.
3. Automation Will Become Increasingly Awesome
Once you have all that smart home technology in your house, who keeps things turned on and off? The devices themselves, of course. Automation will eliminate the need for your constant attention.
Take your smart locks, thermostat, and lights. Program the doors to lock, the thermostat to adjust, and the lights to turn off when you leave the house. Then everything goes in reverse when it’s time to come home from work.
Program your home entertainment system to play in zones at the touch of a button or a voice command. You can also restrict what can be played in kid zones and when.
Automate lighting to respond to different times of day, light conditions, or patterns of activity. Smart lights can shine brightly over the kitchen counter or your reading chair and dim themselves when you’re watching TV.
Voice automation will likely be available on everything. This will go well beyond instructing Alexa to play your favorite radio station. Tell your bathtub how full to fill itself and what temperature you want the water to be. Command your outdoor security lights to engage if you hear a noise. Talk to your window blinds.
Your wish will be your smart devices’ command.
4. Form Will Catch Up with Function
Place one of the first “brick-and-click” cell phones next to an iPhone 12. What you’ll get is a visual demonstration of form catching up with function.
As devices get smaller (and universally wireless), the way they look will improve as well. You can replace that bulky smoke detector with a sleek and small-profile model that recesses into your ceiling. Toss the router box with the antenna and put a little piece of sculpture on your table instead.
For some time, boxy televisions have been replaced by flatscreens. Following this downsizing trend, surround sound speakers are getting smaller in size and larger in sound. Soon the flatscreen will disappear entirely behind a piece of art, while tiny speakers can sit inconspicuously on a shelf or side table.
Device color options once limited to black or white will give way to a broad color palette. Casings are already being transformed from plastic to wood or leather and from geometric shapes to cute critters.
Of course, technology will continue to evolve. And the need for tech developers to work with creatives to package the goods in aesthetically-pleasing ways is going nowhere but up.
5. Home Health and Wellness Will Boom
The pandemic also kept a lot of people from making visits to brick-and-mortar doctor’s offices. Consequently, the technology required to monitor and examine patients remotely has exploded.
The digital patient monitoring device market includes wireless sensor technology, mHealth, telehealth, remote patient monitoring, and wearable devices. A Grandview Research Report states that in 2018, the size of that global market was $38 billion. It is estimated to grow to $272 billion by 2026.
Patients who are sticking close to home still require monitoring for such things as glucose levels, heart rate, and blood pressure. Many have already added mHealth and wearable devices to their smart home IoT. As technology and its reliability advance, those numbers will skyrocket.
Moreover, people who thought they needed a class at the gym to keep them in shape have changed their minds. They can still get a trainer to yell at them by using interactive smart gym equipment at home. And they don’t need to worry about disinfecting equipment or being surrounded by a crowd.
Smart home technology was always going to take root and grow. But having a worldful of people confined to their homes for months added some phenomenal fertilizer. What’s great tech now is likely to get better, so don’t buy every smart home device at once. Tech, like a flowering tree, takes time to fully bloom.