Security, ecosystem-based services and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to offer personalised experience will be among the five main trends that will dominate the development of smart home products in 2017, IDC forecasts.
Energy efficiency and entertainment will be another two features that smart home product developers should add to their devices, according to IDC.

“Smart home devices are only the medium by which the user enjoys smart home services. The real driving force for the development of the smart home will come through connecting the devices to provide users with ecosystem-based services,” says Jin Di, research manager at IDC China.

Based on its analysis of smart home devices and systems in 2016 and a few new product technologies that emerged in early 2017, IDC finds that a wide gap still exist between smart home technology applications and scenario-based services, implying that smart home product R&D should focus on future trends such as AI to improve the functionality of the smart home.

In China, security and automation have long guided the development of smart home products. In the future, IDC sees five trends in the evolution of smart home products and services:

* Security systems a main application in smart homes. The key to reliable home security in smart homes lies in accurate recognition, real-time notifications and provision of various auxiliary functions. Current smart monitoring systems use identity recognition, trajectory recognition, environmental judgment and compensation recognition. For example, the Scout Home Security System showcased in January at CES 2017 Las Vegas allows users to define multi-module connections to track dynamic changes, expand monitoring coverage and speed, and automatically provide early warnings. However, many smart monitoring devices still have difficulty adapting to changes in the external environment, with variables such as lighting, temperature and image matching affecting judgment accuracy. In the future, AI-based image recognition technology will be vitally important to correctly interpreting images in real time.

* Efficiency improvements fundamental to reducing energy consumption. Reducing energy consumption and the resulting power bill is an important reason many consumers purchase smart home systems. But efforts to reduce energy consumption are moving beyond basic energy saving. Products are now working more efficiently while still meeting user expectations and offering more interactive functions. For example, the Ecobee3uses small wireless room sensors to control room temperature and enable smart energy saving. Honeywell’s Evo home thermostat system allows users to set different temperatures for different areas in a room.

* Personalised services to meet user habits and preferences. Smart home products have already started using AI self-learning technology to improve the user experience. For example, the latest smart bulbs from BeOn can discern patterns in user behaviour and learn to automatically turn lights on or off as appropriate. These bulbs can also turn lights on when visitors ring the doorbell. They therefore meet the needs of individual families and also play a role in basic home security.

* Entertainment to drive demand for a wide range of smart home products. In addition to security and energy efficiency, future smart home products will form a home entertainment system, with a single device allowing users to quickly and conveniently control multiple smart entertainment devices in a variety of tailored scenarios. For example, Amazon’s Echo and its mini version Echo Dot, unveiled in January at CES 2017, can connect with more than 7 000 different apps and services. This greatly enhances the entertainment options available in the smart home.

* Open ecosystems essential to connecting smart home products and services. Smart home ecosystems provide convenient and simple products and services that meet user needs in different situations. Therefore, improving compatibility between different smart home products is the foundation for connectivity, while establishing open platforms is the key to expanding smart home ecosystems. Amazon and Google are working towards open smart ecosystem platforms, but many outstanding smart home devices, such as the BeOn smart bulbs and the Scout Home Security System, still cannot connect with multiple platforms.

“Keeping the above five trends in mind, enterprises should be open to creating devices that can connect with other products, gather data from diverse sources, and harness the power of AI so as to enrich the services provided by their smart home devices and advance the development of the smart home,” says Di.

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