2018 Smart Home Trends Worth Watching
By Daniel Wroclawski December 22, 2017
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the world’s largest electronics trade show, and it's coming in early January. Here are the most interesting smart home trends we've identified so far: smarter DIY home security systems, increasingly sophisticated voice control, and even more connected large appliances.
Home Security Is a Hot Topic
Companies large and small have recently announced and/or released new DIY home security systems. The sudden flood of products prompted CR to analyze the long-term costs of these systems. Some of the yet-to-be-released systems, like the Honeywell Smart Home Security System, will likely make their debut at CES. And we may see entirely new systems announced at the show.
“Security products will have a big showing at CES this year because they serve dual purposes,” says smart home analyst Blake Kozak of IHS Markit, a financial analysis firm. “A security camera can alert you to when a package has arrived at the front door or when a child arrives home from school. Moreover, security cameras and video doorbells can act as a communication portal for parents, children, and family.”
The CES Innovation Awards honorees for smart home includes multiple security cameras and other home security products. One home security camera we're curious to see at the show is the Blink Video Doorbell, which claims to offer an unrivaled two years of battery life.
The award list reveals another interesting find: the new Aura motion sensors from a startup called Cognitive Systems. Unlike typical motion sensors, which look for movement using infrared light, these sensors look for movement by checking for disturbances in the wireless signals that flow through your home. Cognitive Systems claims its sensors can detect the difference between movement caused by people, pets, or mechanical objects such as fans, which traditional sensors can’t do.
Companies Double Down on Voice Control
Alexa was the talk of the town at last year’s show, and we expect voice control from Alexa and other voice assistants to be even more prevalent this year.
“Although not all products announced at CES will have embedded microphones, we will see a huge influx of cloud integrations,” says Kozak, “which means appliances, alarm clocks, and other products will be connected to the Internet and have the capability to be controlled through Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri.”
That’s right, Apple’s Siri is now in the running to integrate with more products, thanks to Apple having relaxed its HomeKit requirements. The company used to require that a special HomeKit chip be built into compatible products to enhance security, but Apple is now allowing manufacturers to bypass that rule using software instead.
As for Alexa and Google Assistant, we anticipate seeing those assistants baked into some new and unusual products. For example, earlier this year, Ecobee released a version of its smart thermostat—the Ecobee 4 (shown at top)—with Alexa built-in. The company also teased a smart light switch with Alexa. We hope to learn more about the latter product at CES.
More Home Appliances Get Connected
Every year we see more and more connected appliances at CES. We expect the trend to continue, with not only more smart appliances, but more thoughtful integrations as well. That means the devices in your home can talk to one another and perform functions automatically, in anticipation of your needs, such as turning down the heat in your kitchen when the oven is on.
The smarts in these new machines could range from the likes of the touch screen-equipped Samsung Family Hub smart refrigerator to the Whirlpool Cabrio WTW8700EC washing machine, which you can control with a smartphone app. Many appliances already support voice control via Alexa and Google Assistant (including multiple GE kitchen and laundry appliances), and we wouldn’t be surprised to see more manufacturers announce or expand their voice-control offerings at the show.
Another likely development? More integrations between smart appliances and other devices in the home. For example, Bosch Home Connect ovens already connect to Nest Protect smoke detectors and offer the ability to turn off automatically if the Protect smoke detector in your kitchen goes off due to a fire. Another example: The integration between Bosch Home Connect ovens and Drop smart food scales, which allows the oven to automatically adjust its settings for a given recipe you’re making via the Drop app.
We expect to see more integrations at CES that push the boundaries, amping up convenience—and adding more safeguards—at home.