Are we ready to say goodbye to 2016? The year has shown us how important smart home technology is going to be for the future, and gave us great product releases, like a new line of Amazon Echo products, and refrigerators with cameras. However, all good things must end, and I’m ready to talk about what you should, and shouldn’t expect from smart homes in 2017.
Expect this: Omnipresence
Not that: Manual labor
As more companies jump on board with smart home assistant units, we’ll start to see the presence of smart home AI in every room (yup, even the bathroom). With two of the biggest tech players – Amazon and Google – already in the game – and Apple rumored to be developing their own smart home speaker – we’re off to a great start. These digital assistants that have already been introduced to us are being licensed out to other products now, as well. The assistants we already know – Siri, Alexa and Cortana – will likely be available on non- Apple, Amazon and Google products soon.
What we won’t see from smart houses, or from the omnipresent AI, is a device capable of manual labor. Sure, we have some automated products now, like the Roomba, but we’re still a ways off from having garbage that takes itself out. Or a robot that acts as a cook and maid.
Expect this: Contextual understanding
Not that: Self-understanding
Sure, your smart home technology has been able to respond to you for a few years – the locks can activate or deactivate, the thermostat can lower or raise the temperature – and that makes it seem like it understands you. It doesn’t. At least, not yet. What is understands now is more like geo-targeting; what it will start to understand in 2017 is context. All the data that these devices, and all of our smart devices (like phones, wearables and sleep trackers) are collecting on us will start to tell a story about us. Our smart homes will look to that story, instead of a stiff profile, to determine trigger conditions.
While smart homes will start to understand us better, don’t expect them to start understanding themselves better. We’ll still have to manually set our products up, and program them. One day, we’ll have a smart home ecosystem that is streamlined and self-aware (just turn it on and it’ll set itself up!), but for now we’re still the real brains behind this whole smart home operation.
Expect this: Easy product replenishment
Not that: Automated product replenishment
Amazon is on a quest to rule the world, one smart home at a time. We’ve seen them release their Dash buttons and integrate ordering into their smart home speakers. While they are big and loud in the space, there are other products that are making product replenishment easy, including water pitchers, printers, and washers and dryers. These smart home perks are great, but they still require some attention and effort from us. You can expect this trend to continue, but don’t expect it to go fully automated anytime soon. There are still some quirks to work out with that – including security and order approval.