Six Smart Home Automation and Security Predictions for 2018
Each year reveals new innovations in the smart home security sphere, and 2018 is bound to illuminate at least a handful. Home security advancements make it easier to relax when we’re on vacation, out running errands, or away at work – and they help us to keep our families, pets, and visitors safer, too. Increasingly, we’re also seeing a need for cyber-security, since so many American families are now living much of their lives online.
This week, we’re talking with Frank Ferreira, Head Programmer at audioDave. With more than twelve years of design and installation experience in audio, video, network, electrical, and automation services—wired and wireless—Ferreira offers a response to the touted innovations slated for release in 2018.
Cordless Is In
According to Forbes writer Mark Vena, increasing numbers of cord-cutting solutions will hit the market throughout 2018. Vena’s focus is on solutions that combine both “Over the Air” (OTA) and “Over the Top” (OTT) services, ensuring an integrated viewing experience that lets users access local and national news, sports, and the myriad programming options offered by OTTs like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO. Vena touts the new AirTV, which streams local channels in HD throughout the home.
In reviewing Vena’s take, audioDave’s Frank Ferreira can’t help but remark that today’s “security” solutions are looking less and less like conventional security, which typically includes cameras, alarms, door locks, and more. Yet modern security means a lot more than just keeping your possessions secure. Today, almost everyone has a strong online presence, conducting business over the web on a daily basis. Cordless streaming is just the tip of the iceberg, and cordless innovations are bound to reach into other spheres, including cybersecurity.
Beyond cordless solutions, Ferreira hones in on the service-based aspect of options like Netflix. We’re bound to see “more stuff as a service,” he explains, “with everything [that is] going through service-based technology.” And he’s a big fan of Netflix, which offers affordable viewing options – wirelessly. “I’m a movie guy,” he admits. “I’ll watch a bad movie now and then, and I’ll watch a good movie. Netflix runs the gamut.”
Alexa Meets her Match?
Vena predicts that the Apple HomePod will “surprise the market” by seriously rivaling the capabilities of Amazon’s Alexa. Presently, Apple’s trailing Amazon when it comes to home automation services, but Vena foresees that the HomePod will make a real splash. Of course, with a $349 price tag, the HomePod sets up high expectations, since Amazon’s Alexa currently weighs in at $99.
According to Ferreira, “There is no mid-market anymore” when it comes to many approaches to automation and integration. Most products are either high-end or low-end, and we’re seeing what Ferreira calls a polarization of the market. He’ll wait a while before sampling the costly HomePod, since, as he explains, “I have an iPhone, an iPad, a Google Watch – and I don’t want the HomePod.” With an abundance of technology already at his fingertips, he’s not convinced the HomePod will take off the way Vena claims.
Wireless Charging Steps In
Vena tells audiences he’s been “surprised that so many consumers believe that Apple ‘invented’ wireless charging.” Though Apple announced new advances in reductive charging support for the new iPhone8 and iPhone X, companies like Samsung have offered wireless charging for years. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that inductive, “wireless” charging will take center stage as consumers are offered new ways to charge and repower the devices they love most.
Ferreira explains that advances like Apple’s new wireless chargers are “going to push wireless charging to places we’ve never seen.” The end-all, be-all, he predicts, will be to have every system operating wirelessly. “Want a light there?” he explains. “Screw the light bulb in anywhere in your house, and turn it on wirelessly. Right now, cost is a problem, but once it’s more approachable, the sky’s the limit – from responsive coat racks to the TV that I hang on my wall – content and power are both becoming wireless. That technology is here. Go to Starbucks, put your phone down, charge it.” Even if wireless chargers don’t boom in 2018, they will in the next ten years, and Ferriera marvels at the options wireless charging will offer to the professionals – and gamers – of tomorrow.
Select Home Security with Care
As Vena warns audiences, “Let’s face it – the home security category is a very crowded space.” Hundreds of companies are competing for the right to keep homes and businesses safe – and because the industry doesn’t yet have any clear leaders, consumers are often confused about who to hire. Vena suggests that companies like SimpliSafe, Nest, Ring, and Comcast enjoy a relatively high level of brand recognition, and thus seem more likely to endure as the market evolves.
Ferreira, for the most part, agrees. The security industry doesn’t have many clear winners yet, and the job of keeping technology secure is in constant flux. “Today,” Ferreira explains, “large networks must do the work of filtering” dangerous content that could compromise a homeowner’s cyber-security. Nevertheless, net neutrality regulations mean they can’t always control what’s filtered out. Plus, many consumers aren’t even aware of the ways their technology could compromise them. “Most people have a simple firewall, and little else,” Ferreira explains, suggesting that those competing in the home security market have their work cut out for them.
Always On in 2018
Vena predicts that, throughout 2018 and beyond, homeowners will see an increase of technologies that are “always on,” so to speak. As Americans integrate and automate increasing numbers of systems, from lighting and heating to door locks, sensors, sprinklers, and more, they’ll lose track of the number of smart devices they’ve got in place. Vena himself claims to have forty-three devices connected to his home network—and this type of reliance on the home network could compromise consumers. Home security experts like Semantic and Norton are already looking at ways to carefully inspect each data packet entering the home network – but as Ferreira notes, many of today’s users aren’t even aware of how poorly they’re being protected.
Artificial Intelligence Takes Off in 2018
This year, Vena predicts that AI will reach new limits, thanks to innovative algorithms that improve response and alert mechanisms. Looks like more video search capabilities will be stepping into the limelight, too, which are bound to improve law enforcement efforts and home security alike. Of course, Big Brother is always at the back of our minds when these types of innovations are announced, and Ferreira admits that he’s skeptical – and conflicted.
“I don’t want mass surveillance,” he declares, “but I do own the products, like a Google Home.” He suspects there’s “security by promiscuity,” which means that if we’ve all got a Google Home, the amount of technology will likely overwhelm anyone seriously trying to spy. In the end, Ferreira’s hopeful. “I think it’s clever,” he says of recent technologies. “I think it’s awesome; I think it’s the wave of the future.” Still, he’ll always be on the lookout, and he warns high-level innovators to do the same. “They know how to build [AI],” he says grimly, “but they don’t know what it’s thinking after they build it.”
The Consumer Electronics Show, held each winter, is organized by the Consumer Technology Association as a way to showcase new technologies – including the ones Vena’s described. For more information about these inspired – and sometimes flawed – innovations, check out the conference, always held in Las Vegas, or peruse the show’s website for highlights. Today’s homeowners would do well to conduct a little research of their own before investing in high-dollar security innovations. After all, the possibilities – and opportunities – are endless.
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