5 new trends impacting IoT home automation

6 min.

Do you remember the cult film from the ’80s “Back to the Future”, where the characters used doors with fingerprint recognition and light activated by voice? What seemed to be science fiction in those times, became today’s reality. From smart speakers and thermostats to lighting control and security alarms—humans use home automation devices to facilitate everyday household activities and increase living comfort.

Their number is growing exponentially as people rely more and more on connected home technology. It was estimated that in the United States an average of 3.4 automation devices were installed at home last year, while 26% of respondents had five or more. The wider proliferation of IoT home automation in the future is promising: 10% of households will be smart homes by 2025 globally, according to IHS Market.

Evolution of home automation systems

No doubt, home automation is evolving: the present-day smart home systems are much more advanced than their predecessors were. Until a decade ago, home automation systems were highly expensive and had very basic control features built in. With the expansion of IoT and the advent of wireless protocols such as Z-Wave and Zigbee, they became more affordable and presented a broader range of opportunities and advantages to consumers: convenience, comfort, safety, and savings.

Today’s home automation systems allow integrating various smart devices into a common system and managing them via special displays and controllers, the most popular among them being mobile apps.

This allows consumers to remotely control and automate lights, temperature and all other powered devices in connected homes, thus saving their time and maximizing living comfort. No doubt, IoT home automation will continue evolving and bringing new possibilities for consumers to make life easier and more enjoyable. As time goes on, there will be more advanced home appliances, developing under the influence of emerging home automation trends, five of which we consider below.

Trend 1: focus on digital security

Data privacy and security has always been a thorny issue and the main stumbling block for consumers potentially interested in buying smart home devices: 31% of end users named privacy as their drawback of home automation. It is worthwhile to say that these fears are not groundless, and not many devices are created with security in mind. Manufacturers often neglect security in the pursuit of a faster market entry of their products and lower development expenditures.

However, things change. The global tendency towards ensuring privacy protection makes manufacturers scratch head over security. To protect their devices from invasions and attract more buyers, they will start implementing new security features, including virtual private networks between end users and their connected homes, remote-connection authentication, advanced malware protection and more.

Yet another emerging trend is the adoption of stringent regulations and security standards to be followed by smart home system manufacturers. Z-Wave Alliance already launched a new certification program that will require manufacturers to implement the strongest security mechanisms in the development process. Going forward, Gartner expects that regulatory compliance will become the prime influencer for IoT security uptake by 2021.

Trend 2: voice control is everything

As mentioned above, controlling home automation systems through mobile apps is the most popular method among consumers, albeit this situation won’t last long. Experts say that voice-activated technology is snapping at its heels and will soon take the lead in human interaction with home automation systems: a third of consumers already reported using voice assistants to control their home devices.

There are several reasons for the growing popularity of voice control. Firstly, a voice is the most natural way of communication for people. Secondly, it is time-saving, since dictating is three times faster than typing. Thirdly, voice commands enable elderly and handicapped people to control lights or lock doors without requiring much movement on their part and without being tech-savvy enough.

Large companies like Apple and Google are investing millions of dollars into voice control technology, bringing us ever closer to voice-assisted fully automated smart homes. As a result, speech recognition technology has advanced rapidly and achieved a 5.5% word error rate, which is about the same error rate as a human. It is expected that in the near term voice controls will be able to understand tone and inflection, and possibly identify people by their speech patterns. As the technology is consistently improving, the use of voice-activated home controls will continue to explode in popularity and become a prominent trend on the global home automation market.

Trend 3: home automation that helps you go green

One of the latest home automation trends is a massive application of advanced technology that helps to reduce resource consumption and protect the environment. A connected home and a green home became nearly synonymous, since they are equipped with an increasingly large number of energy-efficient automation systems:

  • Automatic lights that can be controlled from anywhere and send custom notifications to homeowners when they forgot to turn off the light in the house. Coupled with motion sensors, they can save between 20-60% on lighting energy costs.
  • Smart thermostats that learn your schedule and temperature preferences and adjust them accordingly based on what time it is.
  • Smart water monitoring system with automatic leakage detection, able to shut off the water supply when it finds a problem.
  • Smart window shades that lower automatically in a hot weather to block the sun out, keeping the home cooler without having to turn on the air conditioning.

These devices are integrated into a single home automation system, enabling people to control and automate them all via a common interface rather than numerous mobile apps. Consumers can benefit not only from simplicity and ease of use, but also from considerable cost savings. That explains why green home solutions are expecting to witness significant growth in the future.

Trend 4: devices capable of learning your habits

Adaptive learning is now beginning to be used in homes to customize automated systems based on consumer’s moods, patterns, and behavior. For example, the Nest thermostat uses learning features to automatically switch to temperatures homeowners like. After a short learning period taking about a week the thermostat knows people’s schedule, at which temperature they are used to and when, and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

The use of an adaptive learning technology in homes is growing rapidly: experts believe that smart homes will soon be able to distinguish homeowners and guests by their biometrics such as fingerprints, body temperatures, and even heartbeats, so that to adapt to individual needs. Imagine that you return home after work and smart home will automatically adjust room temperature, lighting, and play music based on your preferences. With the rise of adaptive learning and AI, devices capable of learning your habits are getting closer to reality.

Trend 5: home robots are catching on

The world’s biggest tech exhibition CES 2018 held in Las Vegas earlier in the year demonstrated a trend seen among manufacturers—producing home robots. So, for example, Aeolus Robotics presented a household robot assistant able to clean the house, hand various objects to people, and even monitor home security. The robot is still a working prototype, but it is expected to become a commercial product soon. Another example is a ready-for-sale robot called Keecker who can secure your home thanks to a 360-degree camera on its head and has entertainment options, like dancing and video streaming.

In general, the application of home robots is increasing as people are searching for more opportunities to make life easier. Home robots are designed to automate household tasks:

  • Vacuum and floor cleaning, dishwashing, and other domestic work
  • Child care and entertainment
  • Security and home protection while the owners are away
  • Assistance to elderly and handicapped people

Ideally, we’ll soon see home robots that combine a lot of these skills. It is foreseeable that the trend will increase: the worldwide number of domestic household robots is expected to reach 31 million by 2019.

IoT home automation: Stay tuned for more

The advent of new technologies, raise of IoT connectivity, and strong consumer demand for living comfort have entailed a wave of innovation and development in home automation systems. To stay ahead of the curve, IoT developers and home automation manufacturers in particular strive to design their systems in line with the global tech trends, some of them being discussed above.

Looking ahead, we will be seeing home automation devices that promise to improve everything from security and energy efficiency to the overall quality of life. We’re excited about the future and look forward to seeing mass market adoption in the next few years.