Are smart homes really that ‘smart’ in 2017?

For many years now we’ve been eagerly anticipating the reality of true smart homes. It’s no surprise we’re hung up on filling our houses with IoT tech; there are now hundreds (if not thousands) of gizmos and gadgets that propose an easier way of living. The problem we’ve got is tying all these gadgets together. You don’t live in a smart home if you’ve only got a smart fridge!

So how do we turn our boring, regular homes into Back to the Future style tech-dens? The truth is 2017 probably won’t be the ‘year of the smart home’. Currently our sole focus is on developing automated tech, and having houses dedicated to automation is only the beginning.

Instead of investing in heaps of individual technologies, we should be developing a network of connected devices. If a home is truly smart all IoT gadgets, appliances and technologies need to work together as one. Although many connected devices already integrate with others, manufacturers are complacent to allow full-blown integration with all other smart tech.

It’s hard to believe that Microsoft will ever team up with Apple to create a true smart home package; tech giants need to collaborate and innovate together if the true smart home is to become a reality. As you probably guessed, this isn’t going to happen overnight.

What can we expect smart homes to include in 2017?

Smart home hub

A smart hub will be the centrepiece of your smart home. This technology will allow you to control the tech in your house with the power of your voice.

2017 is definitely year of the smart home hub. Amazon’s Echo is no longer the only connected personal assistant, Google Home and Apple’s HomePod have now joined the party. With a variety of hubs to choose from it can be difficult choosing your home’s intelligent assistant. Although Apple’s products tend to be popular for their sleek designs and branding, the HomePod is little more than a glorified speaker. Apple themselves have announced that it’s primarily a music device. For this reason we’d recommend choosing between the Home and Echo.

Admittedly Google has endless amounts of search data available to hand, but Amazon’s Echo has been around longer than the Home. Both offer similar functionalities and both learn more each day; the choice is yours but remember that integration is a necessity. At this current time Amazon has the upper hand as it can connect to more third parties. Be aware that Google is likely to develop many relationships in the near future.

Smart lighting

If you know about smart tech you’ve probably heard about Phillips Hue. Phillips Hue lighting is taking the connected lighting market by storm. The idea behind connected lighting is to eradicate switches and make our lives that little bit easier (maximise our laziness).

We agree, it does seem a little excessive, at this point in time connected lighting is a bit of a gimmick. That being said, the idea of a smart home is to connect everything and make our lives more efficient. We know what you’re thinking, “clap lights have been around for ages, this isn’t any different”. But it is.

Connected lighting isn’t just a life hack to help us avoid getting off the sofa to flick a switch when it gets dark. By utilising our smart hub we can use the lights to automatically turn on or off at a certain times. They not only act as an extra alarm when you wake up in the morning, but prevent you from forgetting to turn lights off when you go to bed, thus saving energy.

Smart appliances

One of the most widely used examples of IoT is the smart fridge. This magnificent piece of equipment will order you food when it’s running low and much, much more. Their popularity comes as a result of the competition between Samsung and LG to produce the best connected fridge on the market.

So what does a smart fridge bring to the table? As silly as it sounds the fridge is a good focal point for this technology. Everybody uses a fridge and so everyone can reap the benefits. Whether you’re looking at your inventory from a mobile or checking the weather, smart fridges are essential in connected homes.

Other appliances such as washing machines, cookers, bins and even cutlery have ventured into the world of IoT too. The era of connected appliances is set to become one of the biggest areas to make an impact on the modern day smart home.

Security in the smart home

Although this is an important aspect to cover, security often goes forgotten about. When it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT) the privacy and protection of our data needs to be addressed. The idea of being watched through the camera on our fridge or having bank details stolen as a result of your smart hub being hacked is far from ideal. That’s why there are products to help you overcome this issue. Here are some great tips for maintaining the security of your private data.

There are plenty of other IoT devices that need to be included in smart homes. Gesture-based gadgets will become extremely popular and may even overtake voice as the primary command method. Smart locks, doorbells and CCTV cameras will also become essentials. As we mentioned earlier, a smart home depends on unity and integration, not necessarily on connectivity; we can’t expect to live in a fully-operating smart home until all these devices can talk to one another.

Machine to Machine (M2M) will be the driving force when it comes to smart homes. If devices didn’t traverse data between them our connected homes would become overcomplicated. We predict that the first fully-functional smart home won’t be ready for another couple of years; it all depends on how the tech behemoths decide to play their cards.