- Google, perhaps making up for a lack of presence at CES 2017, could not be missed anywhere in Las Vegas this year — especially in the Sands (Tech West) and on the Monorail, as well as on nearly every billboard.
- The smart home is evolving into smart life, with automotive manufacturers making big moves to blend the car and home experience, outdoor lighting for security and entertainment purposes, and community video sharing.
- All-in-one devices are here to stay: What started with Piper and Canary has now morphed into a plethora of players combining smart speakers, smart lamps, hubs and cameras together in the same devices.
- Proprietary ecosystems increased this year. Although interoperability remains the primary headline, manufacturers and service providers look to be expanding their own proprietary product lines to promote ease-of-use and the same look and feel across device types, in order to control the user experience.
Although smart speakers and digital assistants were featured at nearly every booth at CES 2018, one of the big takeaways from the conference was the amount of video surveillance being showcased. Manufacturers like ADT, EZVIZ (peephole) and Interlogix were demonstrating video doorbells and completely wireless cameras, using cellular LTE (D-Link) for longer-range monitoring.
There were interesting hardware announcements, but the real news was on the software side. Video analytics is now table-stakes for smart home cameras. Facial recognition, human-detection and noise analytics are all becoming part of these systems. By the end of 2018, many systems will promote facial recognition as a secure means to disarm alarm systems.
Analytics will also become a community endeavor in 2018 and 2019, with Vivint (Streety platform) and other companies providing an open solution to monitor 300 yards of the surrounding neighborhood. Video can be shared among neighbors, to monitor not only the kids playing, but also provide analytics to monitor cars and other things that could be out of place. Consumer acceptance of video monitoring across North America will see a significant bump in 2018.
Lighting also took center stage at CES this year. Ring, Philips Hue, Netgear and Brinks are among the companies launching outdoor lighting solutions in 2018. About ten years ago, smart home for consumers started with interactive security, which promoted remote arming and disarming of the security system. However in 2018, smart home is beginning to percolate outside of the home, in the form of video cameras, video doorbells and lighting.
There has also been an increase in light switches integrated with digital assistants — some of these are also modular or provide a display. Although often priced at a premium, light switches offer an always-powered alternative to mounting dedicated displays in the home — a trend that will continue in 2018 and 2019. Lastly, light fixtures with embedded connectivity was primarily a start-up company trend in 2017, but many established brands are now starting to offer more products that replace entire fixtures, rather than focusing exclusively on bulbs and switches.
Although Amazon continues to exceed voice-control market expectations in North America, especially with automotive partnerships and soon-to-be commercial building partnerships, Google is poised to surpass Amazon internationally by 2023. Moreover, Walmart and other retailers, along with delivery services, are moving quickly with in-home delivery offerings, like Amazon Key.
LG is also going to build Google Assistant into its 4K OLED TVs, 4K Super UHD LCD TVs and other 4K TVs, in addition to embedding voice assistants into smart speakers and sound bars. Additionally, ADT — which is currently only compatible with Amazon Alexa — announced integrations with Google Assistant launching mid-2018. Google is also starting to appear on screens, such as its partnership with Lenovo, where Google has an advantage, thanks to Google Photos and YouTube.
Finally, a prime focus at CES this year, which will continue in 2018, is manufacturer compatibility with all three primary assistants: Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri. In fact, at CES this year Hunter Fans and Schlage announced interoperability with all three of the major consumer home assistants, and many more companies are expected to follow suit.
Usability and home awareness
Smart home at CES focused on the consumer experience and making things simpler for them. Innovations include more intuitive mobile apps that suggest certain scenes (e.g., recipes) based on patterns depicted by machine learning (ML), providing notifications only when something is out of the ordinary, and end-to-end ecosystems that include air quality, water, food management, cleaning, security and entertainment.
Usability also includes making smart home more accessible while reducing the number of hubs and equipment, like the Comcast announcement for its xFi gateway. Other manufacturers are also looking to combine features and devices, such as First Alert Onelink (Safe & Sound), Abode, Honeywell, Toshiba and Hogar Controls. Wi-Fi in the home is becoming a big selling feature for added privacy and security with the parental controls available with xFi from Comcast and D-Link’s new partnership with MacAfee.
Peace of mind — bridging the gaps
Peace of mind in the home is becoming a primary selling feature for the smart home, through life safety solutions, including smoke detectors, doors (LifeDoor), air quality sensors and integrations with cars that can detect location, speed and driving style. For example, Tesla and Chamberlain MyQ are partnering through Evolved Vehicle Environments (EVE). Samsung, on the other hand, will be looking to 4G and 5G to bridge the car and the home. Other examples include Hyundai’s Intelligent Cockpit and Wellness Care, and Panasonic’s Skip Generation (Skip Gen) IVI partnership with Amazon's Alexa Onboard technology.
Overall, disparate systems are becoming more tightly integrated, as they are with Whirlpool and Honeywell, where the thermostat can talk to appliances once the house becomes occupied or unoccupied. As such, integrations across vertical markets (e.g., appliances, security, automotive and energy) will continue at a rapid pace in 2018, as manufacturers and service providers use partnerships and acquisitions to bridge portfolio gaps and curate proprietary systems, as they jockey for market share position.