Smart home has already emerged as a popular phenomenon in countries across the globe. With more people teleworking from home due to COVID, how to make the home more secure and efficient will become only more important. In this note, we examine some of the top smart home trends for 2021.
Are you currently working from home? If so, you’re not alone. COVID-19 and the resulting building maximum capacity and social distancing requirements have sent millions working from home. According to Global Workplace Analytics
, 25 to 30 percent of the workforce are forecast to work at home on a multiple-days-a-week basis by the end of 2021. As people spend more time at home, it wouldn’t hurt for them to know the latest happenings in the smart home arena. Below we identify some of the 2021 smart home trends where AIoT, or AI and IoT, are employed to make the home more intelligent, efficient and more fun to stay in.
AI at home
Having the door unlock or lights turn on when you get home is no longer so unique. With AI, the smart home system “learns,” finds patterns in the user’s everyday life and adjusts device settings accordingly. A smart refrigerator, for example, would not only order more groceries when inventories run low, but also suggest dishes based on the user’s eating habits and what’s available in the fridge. The HVAC system in the home automatically predicts when the user may need more lighting or air-conditioning, and make the necessary adjustments. We’ve already seen AI in retail, transportation and smart city applications, and now it will find itself edging more and more into the home space, and the trend is set to continue.
AI on security devices
Edge computing is more and more dominant in the commercial sector, with IP cameras equipped with various AI or advanced analytics functions. This has become a trend in smart homes as well, whereby a smart camera can, for example, detect someone not a part of the family coming in, or a babycam can detect if unusual activities are happening for example the baby vomiting. There’s also an increasing adoption of smart locks that are facial recognition-based, instead of keypad-based. This has become more feasible and widespread thanks to more advanced SoCs, such as those made by Kneron
, that have higher compute power and lower power consumption, and this is a trend that we can expect in the near-term.
Healthcare and healthier living
While the elderly population is on the rise, a lot of them choose to age or receive care in the comfort of their home instead of care facilities. This trend will become only more noticeable with COVID-19. Smart solutions and devices will therefore facilitate healthcare in the home. Wearables and sensors can assist with detecting when someone falls, and an alert will then be sent to the healthcare provider or emergency service provider immediately. In addition to this, smart home solutions that ensure a healthy lifestyle will become a trend, so much so that even “wellness toilets” are available to examine the user’s skin color and waste and send data and recommendations to their apps, telling them how they can improve their health.
Needless to say, contactless has become the mantra in the coronavirus era where people avoid the act of touching, which is said to be a means of transmission of the virus. And this applies to home living as well. Smart speakers, powered by virtual assistants where actions will be executed simply by the user’s command, will be more popular than ever; according to MarketsandMarkets, the global smart speaker market size is expected to reach US$15.6 billion by 2025 from $7.1 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of 17.1 percent. Besides that, switches will more and more function by way of a hand wave or hand gesture. As the pandemic rages on with the end still nowhere in sight, contactless solutions, whether for commercial or residential, will be in greater demand than ever.
With more smart home devices installed in the home, the compatibility issue inevitably arises as different manufacturers employ different communication protocols. But that’s against the interest of the consumer who wishes to control everything with one voice command or one smartphone app. A common protocol that all manufacturers can follow, then, would be a nice thing to have. Luckily the industry is already moving toward this direction. One such effort is the Connected Home over IP
(CHIP) project initiated by Amazon, Apple, Google and the Zigbee Alliance with the goal of enabling communication across smart home devices, mobile apps and cloud services by building upon Internet Protocol (IP). Indeed, the smart home trend is set to accelerate common protocol development.
All about Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi 6 and 6E are expected to set the trend in the smart home arena. The former works over the current 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands of the spectrum, while the latter uses 6GHz which will provide more data capacity. The abundance of smart home devices, meanwhile, calls for a transformation of the home network infrastructure. It’s become clear that a single Wi-Fi router won’t be able to able to handle all devices competing for the bandwidth. A mesh Wi-Fi infrastructure, in which multiple nodes rather than one router will help fasten data routing and transmission.