Connected Living Trends to Come

Connected Living Trends to Come

Like any young industry that is just beginning to take off, the Connected Living market is constantly evolving and changing at a very fast pace. We can see a clear example of its continuous adjustments and improvements at the events and exhibitions we attend throughout the year, for example at CES, an event that provides key insights of what to expect for the rest of the year in the connected living industry.

Technologies are evolving faster than ever, and so are smart home trends that allow us to live more connected. For some trends we see a brighter future ahead than others. Take smart fridges, which tell you when you are running out of milk (and even buy it for you), the value here is not obvious and uptake may still be a couple of years off. Or Laundroid, introduced at this year’s CES: a bulky laundry-folding robot that… well, folds laundry. Slowly. The company that developed it says that an average person spends nearly 18,000 hours of his lifetime doing laundry. Even if Laundroid can help spare us some of that time, this may be a little too much robot for a normal household.

Regardless of the individual devices and gadgets that come and go and may or may not succeed in the connected-everything jungle, we have compiled some global trends that will be shaping the near future of the connected living industry and will at some point have a huge impact in our daily lives.

Water/Energy saving

Smart switches, thermostats, faucets and sprinklers have become ubiquitous at electronics shows. Devices that help save water at home and reduce energy consumption are very popular among consumers. Not only environmentally-wise, but also to save money on the monthly bill. Nest says their smart thermostat has saved 7.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity since 2011 (enough to power 10,000 homes for seven years), with an estimated cost saving per average user of around 13 percent, or about $138 a year. Impressive, right?

Professional and DIY meet halfway

We are experiencing a shift from the Professional vs. Do-It-Yourself duality towards an integration of the two into a Do-It-Your-Way model, a hybrid that takes the best of two worlds and combines them in a flexible way: professional installation with self-monitoring, DIY installation with professional monitoring, etc., offering all the benefits of professionally installed or monitored systems with all the advantages of self-installed ones: simple installation, easy to manage from any smartphone or tablet, and offering the homeowner real-time updates and monitoring even from the other side of the planet.

Ecosystems of products rather than standalone devices

There is a clear tendency towards integration: devices that work together, integrated protocols, connected living solutions that bring together home security and automation within a single solution. If at CES 2015 we saw lots of different individual, standalone smart home products and devices, this year it was all about product suites that worked together, integrated into a single, seamless ecosystem.

Voice activation

Systems with voice activation technology are becoming increasingly popular among consumers because they bring convenience and peace of mind in many aspects of our lives. Take Amazon Echo, for example, which is totally hands-free and seems to be performing very well. But it’s not the only one. Google, Apple and Microsoft are betting strongly on voice-activated devices, since it is a more intuitive way to interact with connected solutions and its potential to drive mass market adoption by removing barriers between users and technology is huge.

However, it is possible that the most important trend currently shaping the future of connected living is a slow but steady change that is gaining momentum within the industry, a paradigm shift where companies and developers are starting to really listen to end-consumers and address their real needs, instead of just offering them the coolest and latest gadgets. They are beginning to realize that innovation is not about the coolest features, but the most useful. Consumers want things that will make their lives easier. The future of connected living is not the Jetson’s home, where absolutely every piece of furniture has to be connected to the internet, just because we can. Some healthy skepticism is necessary to see that we do not need added complications, but solutions to everyday ones. As Casey Smith, CEO of Lexington, puts it, the connected living industry has to aim to find solutions for existing problems, instead of solutions for problems that don’t exist.

In sum, the main trends in the connected living market all come up to convenience, ease of use, simplicity and integration. That is, listening to consumers and offering them what they really need and want.

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