Smart home technology has existed in some form or fashion for decades. In the 80s and 90s, we saw home alarm systems with motion detector technology become mainstream. Then, there were centralized radio and intercom systems and a few other technologies. But over the past five years, we've seen much more steady and concentrated growth as the idea of a fully "smart" home has just about become a reality. And in 2017, you can look for this market to totally explode.
Four Smart Home Trends Worth Keeping an Eye On
The smart home probably will look a little different than what we've seen in Hollywood movies, but it'll be every bit as useful.
Here are some trends worth watching in 2017.
1. Cost-Effective Smart Thermostats
The very first area where you can expect growth is in the thermostat niche. The reason is that this has consistently been one of the most well advertised and marketed areas of smart home technology. Fueled largely by brands like Nest, these campaigns have done a decent job of explaining the dual benefits of smart thermostats.
As Green Residential puts it, "Not only do they allow for increased comfort and customization, but they provide tremendous cost-savings over the life of the device." Anytime you can present an offer that increases comfort and reduces cost, you have a winner.
2. Voice Controlled Devices
It's not enough to have touch-screen access to your devices, one of the growing trends in the market is hands-free voice control. The technology is essentially the same as what's used to control Siri on the iPhone.
Amazon is one of the leaders in this area, really pushing their Echo product that uses "Alexa" to stream music, search the internet, report sports scores, etc. The goal is to ultimately have one device in the home that can voice-control everything from TVs to thermostats.
3. Enhanced Aesthetics
The thing about smart home technology is that it can't just perform well. It also has to look the part. People are very particular about their home's design and don't want elements that look out of place. But with so many design styles, it's challenging for manufacturers to produce enough variety.
In 2017, look for increased customization during the order process. This could involve unique "skins," color selection, and even material selection. When the aesthetics catch up to the technology, sales will really begin to take off.
4. VR Enters the Home
"With several global tech leaders introducing VR headsets to the consumer market in 2016, CTA expects this to be the tech sector's overwhelming leader in year-to-year growth," Electronic House reported last summer. "Unit sales will increase by 296 percent over last year, reaching 800,000 units sold. Total revenues are projected to reach $432 million, a 332 percent increase this year."
Those were last year's predictions for VR. And while we don't have up-to-date figures on what actually happened, we have to assume that those figures are pretty accurate. Ultimately, what this has done is pave the way for even more growth in 2017. Look for VR to enter the home for the first time and change the way media is consumed.
Will 2017 Be the Year?
This isn't the first time someone has predicted "the year of the smart home," but we're certainly closer than we've ever been before. The technology has existed in previous years, but there's always been a healthy amount of market skepticism from people who aren't comfortable investing in something they've never used before.
This friction is starting to dissipate as widespread use of mobile devices and wearables have conditioned people to the utility of ubiquitous technology. Only time will tell what 2017 holds, but all signs indicate significant growth in this tech market.