Although Internet of Things (IoT) is predicted to grow into a $270 billion industry by 2020, the most daring inventions have so far been contained within the commercial sector. As for the home automation industry, there are few gadgets that excite those people who’ve grown up watching Star Wars and reading Sci-fi magazines. Up until recently, every second tech startup seemed to be developing smart lightbulbs or switches. However, the last few months have seen inventions that can potentially put the home automaton sector on its head and initiate a real revolution.
The concept of home automation is not new – the first commercially viable protocol enabling devices to communicate among each other – called the X10 – was developed in Scotland in 1974. Today most domestic IoT devices use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The availability of such high-bandwidth technology has lead to an explosion of relatively affordable smart home devices.
When Google Home was announced back in November 2016, there were just 13 devices on the list of supported services. In the space of a little over half a year, the list has grown to 40+ items and it is predicted to double its size during the course of 2017.
Let’s look at some of the recent home automation inventions that aren’t merely mood-setting gimmicks and have a potential of making our home lives safer and more comfortable.
There are plenty of new inventions related to heating, such as smart thermostats, however, when it comes to cooling, there aren’t that many products on offer. The product that instantly springs to mind is the SOMA Connect smart blind, unfortunately it isn’t currently supported by Google Home. If you’re an Amazon Alexa or Siri user, you’ll find it very convenient being able to raise and lower your blinds remotely ensuring the premises don’t overheat.
Even more exciting than the smart blind system is world’s first Wi-Fi enabled air conditioner. It’s a portable model created by Frigidaire. It costs around $600 and comes with a full Google Home and Amazon Alexa support. You can actually control your conditioner remotely using an app or give it voice commands and get it to cool the room without you ever having to get up from the sofa.
Health and Safety Equipment
Although you could probably call the current fire safety systems used in apartment blocks somewhat smart or at least connected, there is a huge scope for improvement. How come nobody thought of a Wi-Fi enabled smoke detector before? Onelink have recently launched a range of Wi-Fi safety devices allowing you to receive notifications on your mobile and test the smoke detector more easily.
You may ask why would you want to receive alerts on your mobile if the smoke alarm is supposed to wake people up in the event of a fire? Well, there are very few studies researching the efficiency of smoke alarms, however, the ones that have been carried out are alarming (pun intended). For example, a survey compiled by the Hearing Loss Association of America found that up to 43% of people failed to wake up when a smoke alarm sets off. The percentage of people who are waken up by the sound of their phone alarm is incomparably higher.
Traditional Appliances Turn Smart
Although smart home appliances did get a lot of bad press thanks to the 2013 LG smart TV scandal and a more recent event involving Samsung TVs, this is the market sector that may see an exponential growth. And we’re not only talking about TVs. Practically every device beginning with your kettle and ending with your washing machine can incorporate smart technology.
Now that we’ve mentioned washing machines, they were part of the joint announcement between Google and LG pledging to create a partnership aimed at further developing smart home technology.
There will be an entire range of LG smart home appliances fully compatible with Google Home and Google Assistant including washing machine, dryer, ovens, fridges, air conditioners, air purifiers and even a vacuum. All devices will come with a fool-proof integration.
All it takes to connect a washing machine to Google Home is a short voice command. The gadget that stands out is the air purifier. Not only you will be able to tell it to adjust settings, it will respond with the current air-quality readings and its operational status.
LG is not the only big manufacturer to take the fledgling home automation market seriously – General Electric recently announced a similar move – their new range of connected appliances will get the Google Home support, so you’ll be able to ask your dishwasher whether the dishes are clean.
Does this sound exciting or do you think we’re going a step too far and turning into real couch potatoes?