Highlights from CES: Smart Home Revolution is Here
CES 2015’s main theme was all about connectivity. The major aim for creating a responsive home that can understand what’s going on and react to it started to give out its results. We are about to witness a great revolution of technology at home in all aspects, from smart home security systems to connected refrigerators and more.
According to Gartner Technology’s study, Internet of Things industry is projected to sell 25 billion connected devices by 2020. This number means a 30 fold increase from 2009.
The buzzphrase of Internet of Things is starting to encompass all aspects of smart home that feature integration and interconnectivity. The increasing buzz in the industry is, however, no surprise. Following the specialty brands such as Lutron, Control4 and Crestron, big tech companies are also launching their own platforms that embed the technology at home even deeper into our lives.
The benefits of smart home to end users are going to be spectacular. We are looking at smarter, more efficient homes at the near future that is accelerated by phones and tablets, interacting with a range of devices.
Last June, Apple announced HomeKit, a tool that enables iOS devices (iPhone, iPad) to integrate with smart home appliances. Google purchased smart thermostat company Nest, whereas Samsung purchased home automation platform SmartThings, all giving clues on what sort of a hardcore play field smart home is evolving into.
Apple’s motivation to streamline the smart home appliances and integrate them seamlessly with iOS devices created the HomeKit platform. HomeKit enables users to effortlessly add new compatible devices to your households and control them on their iPhone with available apps. Moreover, you can use Siri to give commands to your smart home to conduct tasks.
HomeKit’s power comes from having the ability to set up rooms, zones and scenes in the house and assign individual smart product to any of these areas. This enables more control over managing your house.
If you have an Apple TV set up at home, HomeKit also enables remote management of home peripherals. This offers extra benefits to users who would like to have a peace of mind about their homes’ security. An interesting example of the integration is iDevice’s latest unveiling called Switch. Switch is a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled decide that lets anything plugged into it to be controlled through Siri voice commands. For instance, you can have your coffee brewing with a “Siri, brew a cup of coffee.” command.
At CES 2015, many leading smart appliance producers unveiled their support for HomeKit integration. Hopefully, as the year progresses, we’ll get a chance to review the best practices of HomeKit for substantial benefit.
Belkin adds four new sensors to WeMo line
One of the front running smart home appliance producers Belkin have unveiled their expansion on the WeMo smart control portfolio. Four new sensors include door&window sensor, keychain sensor, an alarm sensor to detect that detects smoke alarms and an infrared sensor that detects heat signatures at rooms.
Belkin WeMo line works with Wi-Fi and offers a simple app interface for interconnecting all smart home peripherals. WeMo also offers integration with other smart home platforms such as ZigBee.
Google-Nest offers deeper integration
One of the recurring focuses at CES 2015 was big tech companies’ attempt at consolidating intelligent devices under big platforms. In this direction, Google also followed a similar approach towards creating these platforms as Apple. However, they preferred to do it by purchasing an existing platform, Nest.
What started with a simple-to-use learning thermostat grew into one of the most promising consolidators of technology at home. And this year, Nest platform is growing even further by offering support for 15 more home automation devices. Under the ‘Works with Nest’ program, Nest aims at bringing everything about a smart home together in a centralised system.
Nest’s most recent partners include smart door lock August, LG’s smart appliances, Lutron lighting systems, Philips Hue and Withings aura sleep system. With the upcoming integrations, Nest thermostat will become a hub at home for all connected devices.
Whirlpool makes a learning washer/dryer
Whirlpool has proven to be a frontrunner in adapting smart technologies in their everyday appliances. At CES, the company launched their latest smart appliance, called Smart Front Load Washer and Dryer. Via the dedicated app, users can download customised settings to their washer/dryer, allowing a variety of new options that offer the best washing and drying style for your clothing. It can also send push notifications to your smartphone when something goes wrong, and cooperate with Nest platform to do washing only during the periods of low-energy costs.
Creating a place in your home where you can create a suspension of disbelief where you voluntarily surrender yourself to what you’re experiencing. Dynamic, emotional. It has to be engaging and require interactivity. 4K UHD the best way to improve immersive entertainment. The audio experience has to match as well.
With mass market adoption, immersive entertainment devices and smart home appliances are becoming more affordable and more capable, providing huge benefits for end users.
4K is the new HD
2015 will probably be the year we see widespread market adoption. To catch up with the increasing number of available 4K content, display producers are gearing up towards many new TVs and projectors that create extremely crisp images.
Leading brands Samsung, Sony, LG and Panasonic are expected to diversify their 4K display offerings during 2015. On the projector side, however, we have more exciting innovations. Following Sony’s announcement for 4K Ultra Short Throw projector at CES 2014, Panasonic also unveiled their own 4K ultra short throw projector. Sony 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector will be launching in UK by summer 2015.
Netflix unveils seal of approval for streaming-optimised TVs
Netflix’s new recommendation seals will make sure that users’ next TV purchase is a smart TV that is capable of offering the full Netflix experience on the big screen. While some screen producers like Sony, LG, Vizio and Sharp are already offering Netflix recommended TVs, more brands and models are expected to join soon.
Wireless audio is the future
With CES 2015, wireless multi-room audio distribution has become a full-fledged product category with competition getting intense. Following the highly demanded wireless audio experts Sonos, tech companies like Google and Apple have also launched their own wireless audio distribution protocols, Google Cast and Airplay respectively.
The expo welcomed audio equipment producers like LG, Sony and Samsung releasing their speaker systems compatible with Google Cast and Apple Airplay.
An Outlook into the Future of Smart Homes
The long term viability of standalone smart home systems has been a topic of discussion ever since the inception of the industry. However, CES 2015 certainly gave some clues as for what kind of a transformation this fresh and yet exciting field will have within the next few years.
Our prediction is that in the long term, integration will be the key part of the smart home revolution. Standalone products that lack interconnectivity, although now seem plausible, may not survive the long term innovations in the industry. A growing strong trend is certainly the companies’ push to create central hubs where all interconnected devices can integrate with each other effectively. Most recent examples (Nest’s thermostat acting as a central hub, Apple’s HomeKit using smartphone to manage devices and Control4 creating central processors) show us that integration play the most important part in creating a highly advanced household.
In 2015, it will be extremely exciting to see brands evolving their interfaces to offer a streamlined experience for users to adapt their lifestyles into the smart home revolution.