The smart home space within IoT has been a bit of a strange sector for a long time. While it’s the most consumer-facing segment of the IoT industry, it hasn’t really moved very far beyond the early adopter phase into the general consumer market. Until now.
According to a recent report from Technavio, the smart home market is projected to grow by as much as $15.23 billion over the next five years, progressing at a CAGR of almost 18 percent over that time. This is undeniably good news for smart home device manufacturers and IoT ecosystem providers like Amazon, Google, Apple, etc. The expansion of the smart home, including beyond the walls of our homes and across our neighborhoods, will raise new challenges and present new opportunities for intelligent wireless connectivity providers.
Future of Smart Home Design
One of the most common obstacles to smart home adoption has always been the perception that it’s hard for consumers to set up and maintain. In the white paper “The Future of Smart Home Design,” ease of use is identified as a key driver of successful implementation. The paper states that an intelligent smart home can learn the occupants’ patterns and preferences through both observation and inference and as instructed by user rules and other inputs. Those, combined with the system’s observed data, enable smart homes to independently make decisions without additional human input if permitted to do so. A person should only have to oversee or potentially override the system’s decisions as exceptions.
One key enablement technology that eases the challenges for both connectivity and bandwidth is Edge Intelligence. In the same paper, it is suggested that artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities can be brought into edge devices to accelerate and improve the complex functions, analytics, and protocols in a fully operational smart home. Making the challenge curve even steeper is the rapidly increasing number of devices being added to home networks as homes get more connected. Mainly, the increased latency between data collection and decision-making drives the demand for intelligence at the edge.
AI should be working in both the edge devices and in the hubs and gateways to enable smart home implementations best. These devices need greater local computing and storage resources than ever before to support advanced automation and analytics. An important aspect of component selection for smart devices is how many supporting vendors the silicon manufacturer has brought together. The more comprehensive the options, the more efficient a system can be.
IoT security has long been an issue for smart home adoption, and now, privacy is also becoming a key concern for consumers. For the smart home – and the IoT as a whole – to scale, security issues must be addressed at both the OEM and the network levels. In addition, the market will need to educate consumers on how they are being protected from breaches in both areas.
Security threats evolve, so smart devices must evolve as well. IoT device makers should prioritize the inclusion of hardware and software security features that prevent counterfeit devices from using public device IDs to pretend to be an authentic device, have unique device ECC-based public/private keypairs on-chip and through a certificate, and have preventative measures so bad actors cannot hijack code to gain remote control of devices.
These are just a few of the challenges that face the growing smart home market, but the opportunities embedded in overcoming these challenges are vast. Smarter homes mean more energy savings, a more secure home, less time spent on chores that are now automated, and an overall higher quality of life.
For a deep dive into the specific strategies and skills that can help you develop smarter, safer, and more efficient smart home products, make sure you register for the upcoming virtual conference Works With by Silicon Labs. Works With is ideal for software developers, hardware engineers, product managers, and IoT business leaders, offering technical, hands-on workshops and market development strategy sessions.