Homeowners are increasingly relying on intelligent technology to automate everything from turning up their heat to playing their favorite playlists on demand. Voice-activated systems like Amazon Echo and Google Home, doorbells that record video, and garage doors operated by phone apps are popular home amenities.
According to a survey of 987 U.S. homeowners conducted by Houzz, nearly half (45%) of homeowners are installing smart systems or devices during their renovation projects.
Colin Angle, CEO of iRobot, recently shared his vision of smart homes with MIT Technology Review: “A successful smart home should be built on the idea that nobody programs anything; the basic services in your home would just work. So you would walk up to your front door, which would unlock if you were authorized to enter. You would go in, and the light would turn on, the temperature would adjust, and if you started watching TV and moved to another room, the TV show would follow you.”
Soon, homeowners will be able to employ gadgets equipped with predictive analytic superpowers that can send alerts about problems with a home’s air conditioning unit before it fails. A state-of-the-art home entertainment system might provide 3D animation, voice control integration and surround sound.
As this new wave of smart technologies makes domestic life more efficient, productive, and entertaining, here are 10 trends to watch out for in 2018:
1. High-tech security gadgets
The newest advancement in the smart home security sector: amped up security cameras. While many of these cameras will alert you if someone is at your door, a small but growing crop of high-tech security gadgets are taking it to the next level. They use facial recognition to identify visitors, ping you if a specific person (like a dog walker) doesn’t arrive during a set timeframe and will let you know if an unfamiliar person who doesn’t live with you is entering the house.
A security device called Lighthouse, for example, allows users to, say, program an alert if their supposedly sleeping children enter the living room after 8 p.m.
2. Temperature management
With smart gadgets like Nest, homeowners can program heat to turn on remotely through an app before commuting home from work. This type of service is poised to heat up, literally, in 2018. One thing to watch for: the proliferation of geofencing functionality, which uses GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual geographic boundary.
This allows you to program your system to change temperature when you move locations from say, the living room to your bedroom. Some devices, like the wifi-enabled thermostat Honeywell Lyric T5, already have this feature, but homeowners can expect to see more of it in the near future.
3. High-tech entertainment
Smart technology will give the home theater a massive makeover. In 2018, we’ll begin to see more devices catering to recent trends such as online streaming. Some 50 percent of all searches expected to be via voice by 2020, Search Engine Land reports, using features like Amazon Echo’s Alexa or Google Home.
That means more voice control features in the smart home theater. Wireless surround-sound and virtual reality are also expected to play a big role in this sector, according to Twice.
4. Home utilities management
Right now, most homeowners have a rearview picture of their home energy usage and may be surprised when their heating and electric bills arrive each month. Smart technology is working to change this by deepening the relationship between homeowners and utility companies, and providing a more comprehensive view of energy usage. As a result, there could be a shift toward real-time, behavior-based energy management, or even predictive smart home energy management that could factor in weather patterns. DTE Energy, for example, flags areas where homeowners are wasting energy, and allows real-time monitoring of home energy usage.
5. Smart furniture
In the future, we could see robots disguised as shelving units that convert to a bed or closet on demand. At least that’s the vision of the company behind Ori, which appears to be an entertainment console with shelving from the front, and a simplistic bookshelf with one button from the side. With the press of the button or a command to Amazon’s Alexa, the unit made of plywood can turn into a bed or a walk-in closet. The robot is only in the pilot stage, with a projected price tag of $10,000. But shows what types of inventions could make a debut in smart homes in the years to come.
6. Maintenance checks
In the future, gadgets will monitor super-low frequency (subsonic) and super-high-frequency (ultrasonic) sounds to establish benchmarks of what’s “normal” in a home, according to CEPro.com‘s coverage of home trends unveiled at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show. Then, it could help identify if something is amiss before it causes major damage. For example, a slow water leak emits a sound that would otherwise be inaudible. Termites behind the walls also have a sound that ears can’t hear, but a monitor might. The gadget will sense the noise and alert homeowners.
7. Hands-free homes
The battle for voice-enabled tech is growing increasingly fierce, with two front-runners — Google Home and Amazon Ech0. With more than two-thirds of the entire smart-speaker market share, Amazon has maintained a steady lead, most recently launching its first video surfacing the Echo Show.
“The smart speaker market is expected to grow from 4 billion units this year to 7 billion by 2020,” making 2018 a “pivotal” year for these home-based helpers, according to the Motley Fool.
8. Lawn care
A beautiful lawn that’s always perfectly cut and green could require zero effort in the future. Robin Autopilot, for example, leases custom lawnmower bots to landscapers who provide services in their local areas. The benefits for homeowners: eco-friendly and reliable robotic lawn service that lowers pollution and is available at a lower price point. There’s also a growing crop of smart sprinkler irrigation systems that can be connected to Wi-Fi and accessed from remote locations through smartphone apps or laptops. These systems dispense the right amount of water according to the time of the year, climate and weather. Many also provide a detailed report of water usage.
9. 3D printing
3D printing technology is being deployed commercially, in industries like health care and manufacturing, but imagine a smart home that’s actually 3D printed. The startup PassivDom used a robot to print floors, walls, and the roof of a home.
Catering to the tiny home movement, San Francisco’s Apis Cor printed a 400-square-foot home, including concrete walls, partitions, and the building envelope, in as little as 24 hours, according to Engadget. Could this become the next housing trend?
10. Complete automation
iRobot’s Roomba is fairly mainstream, but the company is working on an upgrade that would essentially tie our smart gadgets to work together in unison. The company envisions a robot that “is actively going out and discovering what rooms exist and what the different devices in them are, and you have a way of figuring out what room people are in,” iRobot’s CEO Colin Angle told MIT Technology Review.
With these smart trends, homeowners could soon reap the benefits of a major intelligent upgrade that could improve everything from their energy bills to their quality of life.