Talking to My Home

Smart home trends and innovations @ IFA

The smart home is again at the heart of many exhibitors’ promotional activities at IFA 2017.

When it comes to major appliances, examples of cutting-edge technology are innovative and wide-ranging functions, ease of operation, sometimes using virtual control panels and on some devices gesturing, voice control and personal assistants. More and more large and small electrical appliances are connected and feature smart applications. These appliances are controlled by mobile devices and apps that can access their current programme status, messages, as well as maintenance, repair and service information. Sensors track user behaviour and suggest improvements via an app. Built-in cameras offer a remote view of the inside of an oven or fridge. This opens up the way for even more new applications, functions and digital services offering fun and a quality experience. What is more they save time and effort and offer plenty of tips, for instance on how to save energy, do the washing or new recipes and ways of cooking. Connected appliances can also exchange information. This makes it possible to optimize laundry drying or control several appliances via a single control panel. These smart functions satisfy the users’ desire for appliances that can make intelligent decisions and make day-to-day work easier by offering improved operation, better safety and greater energy efficiency.

VOICE CONTROL
Be it Alexa, Cortana or Siri, voice control is a trend that has long transcended the boundaries of the established IT world. More and more devices in the networked home can be operated with voice control, and artificial intelligence is now making this even easier. Bots and digital agents learn their master’s commands and can automatically take full control of air-conditioning in the smart home, for example. However, a scenario such as this also raises safety questions. Automatic helpers and effective protection of the private sphere are key topics at IFA 2017.
A new survey from Futuresource Consulting shows the category is already gaining momentum. Analyst Filipe Oliveira told IFA International, “The light switch may be on its way to obsolescence as consumers increasingly turn to apps on their smartphone or Amazon’s Alexa to control their homes.”
Voice-assistant speakers are likely to prove a turning point in the uptake of the smart home, according to Futuresource Consulting’s latest Smart Home Consumer Survey. The report revealed that 27% of UK homes had installed at least one smart-home device that could be controlled wirelessly, either by a mobile device, PC or hub device such as Amazon Echo.
UK consumers seem particularly keen on climate control, with 14% of those surveyed having installed smart thermostats. Hive was the most popular brand, while Philips Hue led the way in lighting – the second most important category in the smart home.

8%
of consumers adopt security-oriented devices as a most common first step towards smart-home adoption

30%
of respondents to Futuresource survey said that they were likely to buy a speaker with voice assistant in the next six to 12 months

27%
of UK homes have installed at least one smart-home device that can be controlled wirelessly