With the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) expo just a couple months away, homeowners and tech enthusiasts alike are antsy about what the New Year has in store for smart homes. It’s pretty clear that this year’s CES is going to be smart home-heavy: the show kicks off January 8th with sessions about the future of voice control, protecting sensitive consumer data in the home, and producing smart home technology that brings real value to the consumer. Here are just a few predictions of where smart home trends in 2018 might take us:
Alexa is Everywhere
Amazon’s Alexa had two strong years in a row in 2016 and 2017, and it’s looking like 2018 will continue the trend. Last year, Amazon rolled out third-party integration with developer access, which opened up the entire smart home market to devices built around the beloved smart home speaker.
This year, it’s projected that developers continue releasing updated versions of smart home staples, but with Alexa access. The possibilities are endless: a door that opens itself when you tell Alexa you’re coming through with your hands full, or a security camera that actually listens when you say you’re just walking the dog and doesn’t trigger an alert.
That’s not where it stops for Alexa. In the last quarter of 2017, Amazon announced that they’re adding “routines,” a new feature that simplifies using Alexa to control multiple home devices at once. For instance, a consumer can say “Hi Alexa, I’m heading out,” and the device responds by dimming the lights, lowering the home temperature, and locking up the security system… and giving you a run-down on the traffic and your ETA.
Wi-Fi Coverage as a Priority
A common problem with seemingly no solution, every home owner is familiar with the dreaded “dead spot.” Your router is in the living room, so when you’re watching Netflix in bed, it randomly cuts out and loses quality. There’s never been much of a solution aside from trying to locate the router as centrally as possible, and that isn’t always practical.
It’s been an issue with smart homes from the start, because every device in the home needs to connect to Wi-Fi. You can’t rely on a home security system that periodically drops from the network, and it’s plain annoying when your smart lights won’t turn off at the end of the day because of poor signal.
Qualcomm and other router giants aim to solve that problem through whole-house, mesh router systems. These systems generally include one central router and several connectivity beacons that you can scatter throughout the house as needed, where they concentrate the signal so your devices don’t disconnect when you need them most.
Every Home Needs a Pet Robot
Aibo was a toy first, but he’s making a comeback in 2018 as an intelligent robot that every homeowner wants to hang out with. We don’t know much about Aibo yet, but what we do know is that he’s slated to be a smart home generalist who can tell you the weather, monitor security, take photos, connect to other devices in your home… and he loves the color pink.
2018 is the year of the pet robot, as Aibo isn’t the only one that’s been announced. Jibo came out in November and has updates slated for 2018. As consumers, we’re already used to smart hubs and speakers that we can talk to, so a social robot as a smart hub makes perfect sense as the next step.
Last year saw the release of robots such as Kuri and Aristotle, but they have one problem in common: no third-party integration, which means you can’t control other devices in your home through the robot. Hopefully, 2018’s developments in smart robot tech solve this problem.
Every year is better than the last for smart home trends, and 2018 should be no different. The entirety of the CES schedule isn’t on the table, but other potential topics include how 5G might affect smart connectivity, and whether virtual reality has a place in home tech. One thing’s for sure: we can’t wait to see how the year plays out.