Smart home technology is becoming increasingly popular, and that market is growing rapidly. A slew of new companies are developing smart home devices that can help consumers use technology to manage networked devices in their homes.

By Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of Intact Software Distribution

This growth has been driven by the Internet of things (IoT) which has made it possible for physical devices to connect to the Internet, to sensors and to each other. And the applications are limitless. Temperature control, security, lighting and many more. In fact, Gartner has predicted that there will be some 25-billion IOT-enabled devices in two years, many of which will be used to automate our houses.

Every sign points to smart home technology becoming a major driver in the digital marketplace of the future.

The term ‘home automation’ covers many different technologies. It includes lighting systems that go on when it gets dark, or turn off when nobody is home. It covers thermostats that can be controlled via a smartphone app remotely. It also covers sprinkler or other watering systems for the garden.

Security is a large part of home automation too, and a sector that becoming increasingly important, particular in countries like South Africa that have high crime rates. Smart security covers locks, security cameras and other home monitors, as well as baby monitors.

The smart kitchen is another growing area for IOT devices. Various vendors are designing smart appliances, including coffee makers, fridges, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, and similar.

Finally, there’s entertainment, which is key to any smart home. This would include sound systems, and audio speakers that cover the entire house, to smart TVs, projectors and home theatre systems, all of which can be controlled via a smartphone.

There are several drivers behind the adoption of smart home technologies, and possibly the most compelling, is energy efficiency. Consumers will adopt one or more smart home technologies when they understand how that technology can streamline their lives, and save them money. Because of this, I think we will see a continued focus on improving energy efficiency in these technologies.

And smart home technology has gone through a tremendous shift since its infancy, moving away from basic connected devices, to vast connected systems that can take in data on their users, and adjust themselves accordingly.

In addition, technological advances in voice control and artificial intelligence have seen the rise of the intelligent assistant, which is becoming a viable control centre for the smart, connected home.

However, the market has a long way to go before it reaches its full potential. The majority of consumers do not yet fully understand the value proposition of connected devices, and the early adopters have to deal with significant issues that have not been addressed yet.

So, despite the proliferation of IOT devices, we’re still a long way away from the vision of seamlessly connected homes.

Players from all industries are developing their own solutions and bringing them to market, but they are also battling with issues, such as ensuring seamless connections between their devices and those from other vendors.

Over and above strategy, solving these issues will require real business model innovation among the various vendors, as well as new capability building.