The annual Consumer Electronics Show was earlier this month in Las Vegas, and a lot of focus was on the Internet of Things, a collection of devices and products fitted with electronics, software, and Wi-Fi connectivity. Smart home technology in 2015 has, for the most part, been viewed as a series of “cool-but-not-necessary luxury tech products” being purchased by a small group of tech fanatics. But in 2016, the internet of things, particularly the networked connectivity of devices in private residents, is poised to take off.
Smart home devices will inevitably become as commonplace and ubiquitous as smartphones, with companies like Nest and SmartThings becoming household names. That being said, what kinds of innovations can we expect to see in 2016 with regards to smart home technology and the internet of things?
Victoria Woolaston of The Daily Mail reported on a recent announcement made by Samsung, which states that the company is integrating SmartThings software into their line of Smart TVs, effectively transforming all of their TVs into smart home hubs. The SmartThings allows people to access all their smart devices directly from their smartphone and SUHD TV, rather than having to control individual devices with separate apps. If you add the Apple TV and Google’s new OnHub router to this discussion, and the potential for smart home hubs to become commonplace in the home becomes all the more possible.
According to Chris Klein of The Next Web, companies that build devices for the Internet of Things need to find a better way to streamline the overwhelming amount of data being collected by smart home devices, in order to create a better experience for the user. He argues that the way companies like SmartThings, Notion, HomeSeer and Canary process the abundant amount of information on user activity, preferences and goals they collect needs to change. As it stands right now, users of smart home devices are barraged by notifications, in order to give users as many insightful tips as possible. But as more and devices become “smart,” companies will need to find a way to better prioritize the notifications, or come up with an entirely different system altogether.
The Importance of Software
In the past, when purchasing a household item or appliance like a refrigerator or microwave, you knew exactly how the appliance would function just by looking at it. The only way to get an upgraded, possibly better functioning piece of hardware was to upgrade and purchase a new one. But as Klein points out, “now that IoT companies have mastered hardware, 2016 will be the year of sophisticated, forward-thinking software.” IoT companies will start to broaden the value of their hardware platforms with the addition of advanced upgrades and integrations with professional software services. Through these integrations, users will gain better features, more possibilities and more value from the same hardware they already own.
A Focus on Security
As IoT products continue to connect more aspects of our lives, it means more of our private information is being entrusted to big IoT companies. In 2016, these companies need to be more mindful of security breaches and hacks that threaten people’s privacy.