Smart display market heats up

Smart display market heats up
Led by the Amazon Echo Show and Google Home Hub, the integration of interactive displays and voice assistants is reshaping the smart home sector.

A concept that has received much attention in the smart home industry over the last two years, smart displays combine touchscreens and smart voice assistants in a single device.
 
The first such device on the market was the Amazon Echo Show, an Alexa-powered smart speaker with a 7-inch touchscreen. The Echo Show, released in mid-2017, bolsters the functionality of a regular smart speaker by also providing a rich array of visual information, such as security camera feeds and live news updates.
 
The display also works in tandem with Alexa; showing lyrics while playing music and allowing for hands-free voice and video calling. 
Blake Kozak, Principal Analyst, IHS Markit

 
Blake Kozak, Principal Analyst at IHS Markit, thinks this type of functionality is destined to become more common in smart home controllers. “Overall, smart displays are a natural and required progression of the home automation industry because often it is convenient to augment voice interactions with a visual display,” he said.
 
Aaron Emigh, the CEO of Brilliant, a smart display platform developer and device manufacturer, described stand-alone voice assistants as an “imperfect solution.” “Voice lacks discoverability — it’s hard to know exactly what to say to control things,” he said.
 
As the Amazon Echo Show slowly extended its features, Alexa’s biggest competitor, Google Assistant, entered the smart display market in mid-2018.
 
This pushed product development as third-party manufacturers, including Lenovo, LG and JBL, released smart display products powered by Google Assistant. Google launched its own smart display device, Google Home Hub, in October 2018 and social media giant Facebook entered the fray the same year with the Portal and the Portal+.
 
Amazon responded to this increased competition with the release of its second-generation Echo Show, improving the device’s hardware and appearance.
 
In the last several months, manufacturers selling smart display devices have begun targeting home users, highlighting the usefulness of smart displays in the kitchen and for home entertainment.
 
Both Google Assistant and Alexa work with applications like SideChef, Chefling and innit, enabling homeowners to use voice commands to display recipes, as well as bring up photo or video instructions.
 
Whirlpool-owned appliance maker KitchenAid previewed its Google Assistant-powered Smart Display at CES 2019. The device comes with a water-resistant 10-inch display designed to withstand kitchen spills and mishaps.
 
Manufacturers have begun bringing smart displays into the wider smart home ecosystem. Amazon has integrated Alexa into its Fire TV products, combining the visual features of Echo Show with TV devices, also letting users ask the assistant to display live surveillance camera feeds.
 
Another marketed use of smart displays is for video calls, something Facebook has pushed hard through its Facebook Messenger-equipped Portal devices. The camera on the Portal and Portal+ allows for hands-free video calling, following users within a 140-degree field of view as they move, as well as zooming and focusing automatically.
 
IHS Markit’s Kozak said: “What makes smart displays special for the industry is that it can supplement additional use cases for major home appliances, with recipes, cooking videos and live streaming of refrigerator contents.”
 
Smart display devices have already emerged as an alternative to voice-commands and smartphones for controlling connected home appliances. Google Home hub comes with a dashboard feature for the Smart Displays platform, allowing homeowners to easily adjust their smart home devices on the touchscreen rather than asking Google Assistant.
 
Manufacturers are banking on smart displays emerging as a more convenient replacement for smartphones for controlling smart home devices. Kozak predicts that smart displays “will have a disruptive impact on the home automation market in 2019 and into 2020.”
 


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