In editing our top 100 Products this year, I noticed that 16 of them have a smart component. This is even more telling when you consider that we’re not a tech publication.
According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, the smart-home industry (lighting, security, HVAC, entertainment, and appliances) is poised to grow from about $47 billion to more than $121 billion by 2022.
But it’s not that simple.
For the past decade or so, we’ve been hearing that the smart home is coming any second and that once it’s here our lives will be perfect. Yet the reality has been glitchy technology from a variety of manufacturers that’s often hard to use and even harder to set up. Recently, this failure to deliver has prompted negative media attention, but long before this, many remodelers I’d talk with would laugh derisively when the topic came up.
From a practical standpoint, there are problems that need to be solved before the smart-home market can realize its promise. One of the largest is centralization. Using smart technology for a home’s many systems is annoying without a central dashboard that connects and controls them all. Over the past few years, a slew of companies from Facebook to Lowe’s have rushed to fill the need, but these products have failed to gain real traction because (a) they’re expensive, and (b) they often don’t work very well.
Another problem is security. In May, researchers at the University of Michigan were able to hack into a leading home automation system and gain entry to the house via the front door. Scary.
Then there are the limits of the technology itself. Often the software connecting the components misunderstands what’s needed, and the lights come on at 2 a.m. because the system thinks you’re on vacation.
But even with these growing pains, it’s not a question of whether smart homes will become the norm, but when. And remodelers need to be ahead of that curve.