2016 was certainly a busy year in home technology. But as opposed to giving you a retrospective article like everyone else is doing this time of year, we thought we’d do something a little different. We are instead using the approaching new year as an opportunity to look forward to the 12 months ahead. This promises to be a very interesting year as areas like voice control, the IoT, and service-based pricing continue to rapidly evolve. Here’s our look at the top four trends that will define the home technology space in 2017…
1) Voice Control and AI
Amazon’s release of the Echo back in late 2014 took nearly everyone by surprise. Developed in secret, the product came to market as a first-of-its kind voice control device. People quickly began to gravitate towards the product for its convenient always-on form factor. And while it may have been something of a novelty at first, Amazon’s runaway success with Echo has put their competitors on notice.
Google Home was recently announced. With a similar form factor to the Echo, and backed by Google’s deep experience in AI, it will give Echo a run for its money in 2017. Microsoft has reportedly partnered with Harmon Kardon to launch a speaker in with Cortana built-in. And speculation abounds about whether Apple will join the party with a similar purpose-built device featuring Siri. We expect 2017 to be a marquee year for voice control as more products come to market, and the AI evolves to make these offerings more intelligent and useful.
2) The Internet-of-Things (IoT)
The so-called Internet-of-Things (IoT) continued to gain steam in 2016. An umbrella-term that describes the inclusion of network connectivity into everyday objects, the IoT has grown to include countless smart home devices. From doorbells and garage door openers, to crockpots and tea kettles, nearly every item in the home is fair game.
Tech giants and silicon valley startups alike are betting big on the IoT. We expect 2017 to bring continued momentum in this space. Increased consumer awareness driven by the IoT will bring many opportunities to home technology professionals as homeowners will be seeking a guiding voice to help them pick the right products and platforms, and to keep their personal information secure in this brave new world…
3) Cyber-Security in the Smart Home
Speaking of the IoT, this explosion of connectivity into everyday devices has elevated the need for proper cyber-security practices to a new level. Recent high-profile DDoS attacks by the Mirai Botnet, which included in its ranks connected cameras from a popular Chinese manufacturer Xiongmai, brought the issue into the spotlight.
As awareness and adoption of the IoT grows, we expect 2017 to bring increased consumer demand for implementation of stronger security measures. Manufacturers will likely be subject to increased regulation designed to ensure a base-level of security measures. Integrators will also have to perform their due diligence to protect clients, who will implicitly expect that their personal security interests are being looked out for when it comes hiring a home technology professional.
4) Cracking the RMR Code
Remote Systems Management (RSM) was easily one of the biggest areas of development in the CEDIA channel in 2016. In 2017 we expect to see increased competition between products like Ihiji, Domotz, Krika, OVRC Pro, BakPak, Digital Butler and others. This increased competition will drive innovation in the category, giving integrators even more effective ways to remotely support their clients.
But the big question will remain: will these RSM tools finally help integrators find widespread success with recurring monthly revenue (RMR)? This has been a topic of conversation in the industry for years, but with the maturity of RSM as a category 2017 may well mark a turning point. Many of these RSM providers, as well as new service providers like OneVision Resources, will also play a vital role in the effort to crack the RMR code in 2017.
There you have it, our four top trends to watch in home technology as we move into 2017. All four of these areas represent challenging growth markets for the traditional CEDIA integrator. But these challenges also bring huge opportunities. For integrators who can find creative ways to adapt and leverage these trends, 2017 promises to be a great year.