The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas every January has become synonymous to getting a quick glimpse of how we might live in the future. And judging from the enthusiastic response exhibitors get every year from hundreds of thousands of attendees, it seems clear the people are excited about the possibilities the future is promising.
While not all products showcased at the show will ultimately make into our lives, the general trend over the last few years has been that the things in our lives will be getting more digital, more connected and more mobile. We are now well past just smart phones and one thing that each passing CES showcases is the continuing evolution towards the era of the Internet of Things, particularly the smart home.
Major tech players like Samsung, Apple, Google and Amazon are quickly trying to be at the forefront of connecting the growing list of smart things in your home whether it’s TVs, lights, security systems or fridges.
Samsung is one of biggest champions of the smart home highlighted by their acquisition of the smart home company SmartThings. Their SmartThings offerings now include a wi-fi hub and phone app to control any of the over 200 (and growing) compatible third-party products, and Samsung's TVs are now SmartThings enabled, removing the need for a stand-alone wi-fi hub. The company also continues to expand their list of smart devices that it manufactures like its smart fridge that not only has a TV and can play music, but can also detect when you’re running out of food and order more.
Not to be outdone, Apple is looking to make your iPhone the center of your smart devices through its HomeKit solution. This is being merged with voice interface functionality, Siri, so users will be able to control their smart home devices with just their voice. Amazon has also developed an incredibly popular smart home hub based on its voice assistant, Alexa, and Google, apart from releasing Google Home smart speaker, is developing Weave to merge smart home items together along with major partners HP, Asus and LG.
Which of these developing solutions will win widespread adoption by customers remains to be seen. The key, as with any successful new technology, will be how easily solutions can be adopted. No ecosystem of smart appliances will be adopted by large numbers of users unless it actually saves money and time and is easy to use.
Samsung’s SmartThings ecosystem is hoping to connect things that are already in your home whether it is made by Samsung or not. And Apple’s HomeKit uses a common language that can be understood by devices from any manufacturer, though Apple must still approve each item.
The great thing about these mammoth companies leading the way is that they can compel manufactures of all types of goods to make their devices enabled for their smart hub. And as this technology advances, the interoperability and ease of use should get better and better.
The rush to be the center of the Internet of Thing era is, of course, because it is a huge revenue opportunity. By providing connectivity and compatibility for millions of users, these companies are able to develop ongoing customers for a variety of value-added services.
Already, revenue from smart home solutions is expected to grow to at least $71 billion by 2018. And with so many verticals when it comes to products in your home, it’s unlikely one company will be able to dominate. This means there is a massive opportunity for many companies who are able to have their product ready to be integrated into ecosystems in the cloud.