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Smart home is one of the main technological trends of 2017. Part 1

GfK Company in its annual research “Technotrends 2017” named the main technologies that will affect the life of consumers and their behavior in the coming year. This year, experts identified 5 main technology trends: mobile payments,  unmanned vehicles, portable devices, smart home and virtual reality. In this article, let’s pay attention to the trend “for lazy people” – smart home.

Smart house proves the truth of the definition that laziness is the engine of progress. The system shifts almost all domestic issues onto its shoulders and makes a person’s life more comfortable. In addition, the modern market has a huge number of developments for its functioning. In addition, the modern market has a huge number of developments for its functioning. Among the companies involved in such developments, there is a well-known brands like Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Apple, Xiaomi, who in 2017 introduced Cortana, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple Home Kit, Xiaomi Home Kit. Also in the market of technologies there are less recognizable, but more narrowly focused brands of Siemens, General Electric, Crestron and Key Digital Compass Control®, AMX, Nest, Z-Wave, RaZberry, LM Wall and many others.

What is a smart home?

“Smart home” – a unified management system in a house, office, apartment or building, which includes sensors, control elements and actuators. The control elements receive signals from the sensors and monitor the operation of the actuators, acting according to predetermined algorithms and combining the following systems:
– the microclimate of the house (heating the house through radiators or warm floors, ventilation and air conditioning of the premises) and adjacent territories,
– control over power consumption, limiting peak loads and distribution of loads along the phases of the supply network, control of backup power sources: battery-operated UPS and diesel generators,
– security and fire alarm,
– access control system,
– control of emergency situations: leakage of water, gas, power failure,
– video surveillance (local and remote),
– management of indoor and outdoor lighting,
– distribution of video and audio streams across the premises (multiroom),
– management of pumping sewer stations and automatic watering systems of green territories,
– management of gates and barriers,
– management of curtains, shutters and blinds,
– remote monitoring and management of all systems at home via the Internet.

Popularity and prevalence

Compared with these growth rates, sales of other devices from the smart house category – home automation and security, large and small household appliances, communications and control – lag far behind. In spite of the potential advantages that these connected devices can bring to homeowners, there still remain serious barriers that prevent this market from becoming massive.

Consider three areas on which to focus for stimulating the development of the scope of a smart home.

– Simplicity and convenience for the user. This is the key to everything, really. Nowadays, all consumers require a good user experience. In fact, they want simplicity and ease of use, understandable and useful solutions. Nowadays, as a lot of technologies and solutions, as well as a variety of manufacturers and technology companies, confuses consumers. That’s why experts insist that the mass distribution of devices for a smart home largely depends on inter-industry cooperation and communication.

– Clear information about the benefits of a smart home. The advantages of smart home technologies and how they improve our lives, must be clearly communicated to consumers. At the same time, the information must be adapted to the different needs of each part of the market. For example, when people were asked why they monitor smart devices in their home, the answers differed by age group. 62% of the representatives of the baby-boomer generation responded that they want to “save money by reducing the cost of utilities”. Representatives of Generation X mostly chose the answer “I want to keep my house safe and secure”. 39% of millennials noted that this is “fashionable and promising”.

Target audience are millennials (especially generation Y). Without a doubt, the millennials are the most active adepts in the field of intelligent home. 36% of them already control or monitor devices in the house using a smartphone, tablet or computer. It is this group of users that manufacturers and retailers should target.

“The excitement around the fully equipped smart house continues, but we are still far from realizing the whole idea. With the successful launch of Amazon Echo, we saw that voice interfaces are intuitive and easily able to enter people’s lives. In 2017, we will see that new global brands will offer the market their solutions that will further increase the penetration in this area. The most successful will be those that can provide the convenience and ease of use that consumers crave. However, it is more realistic that these devices will provide companies with a profit increase. Mass penetration is unlikely to occur this year, until manufacturers, retailers and technology players get together to remove obstacles to a truly smart home”.

Currently, from the position of using a smart home, the most popular device is Smart TV. In 2016 in Europe, sales of smart TVs amounted to 17.38 million units, compared with 5.61 million in 2011. In Latin America, sales of these devices rose to 6.48 million units from 1.04 million in 2011. In the Middle East and Africa, the figure was 2.78 million in 2016 compared to 348,552 in 2011.

In the second part of this article, we will offer you an overview of the technical implementation of the “smart house” technology.