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Right here, right now

The smart home space has promised to transform the way we live and is seen as a serious business opportunity for technology companies. But while there are a host of devices, from voice assistants to smart appliances, it’s still a market that is yet to really cross the starting line.

There are a number of reasons. Consumers are concerned with safety and security; they want devices that work flawlessly and that are interoperable – today interoperability tends to be limited to a device speaking to an app or to a hub device, such as the Amazon Echo; too many consumers don’t yet perceive the value of the connected home and, at the end of the day, too many devices on the market are just too expensive.

But things appear to be changing according to new market research from IDC, which suggests that the global smart home market is set to grow by almost a third this year. It predicts that manufacturers will have sold over 640 million smart devices by the end of 2018.

As for the future it says that in four years, annual sales could reach as many as 1.3 billion devices with voice control driving that growth.

If those figures are accurate then that would mean that on average every sixth person, regardless of age, could own a smart home device.

Smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo or Google Home are the fastest-growing category and while the record of 100 million devices was broken this year, forecasts indicate that as many as 230 million smart speakers will be sold in four years.

Smart lighting, thermostats, door intercoms and security systems are also becoming increasingly popular.

The Amazon Echo, Google Assistant and ULE-based products are all seen as helping to drive growth and, perhaps we are reaching a tipping point, with manufacturers better navigating the challenges associated with the market, but challenges do remain.

Maybe we should stop talking about the smart home being simply about gadgets, and start talking about it as being something that’s embedded in a much wider, smarter community.

Author
Neil Tyler

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