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The Top 5 Technologies Emerging for Smart Home Automation

Are your new tech devices changing you? Chances are, trending innovations in current and emerging technologies have got you on the edge of your seat. Things are changing so fast, it’s hard to believe that only 10 years ago it was still cool to open the garage with a remote control. No one could imagine adjusting the home thermostat from work by using a smartphone.

However, the widespread adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) is really speeding things up. Cisco estimates that 50 billion devices will be connected to the IoT by 2020. The expanding empire of smart home automation is launching an exciting evolution of both connected devices and human interaction.

Smart homes employ a wide variety of electronic devices connected together on a home network communicating via the IoT. Currently, connected devices include thermostats, smoke and CO2 detectors, security cameras, smart locks, lighting, and A/V systems, including smart TVs and home cinema installations. Smart meters, energy storage systems for solar rooftops, and EV charging systems are also well on their way to assimilation into the IoT.

The top 5 emerging technologies

Emerging smart home connections can be logically predicted from the five top-selling devices in Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) new report released in July. Driven by the rising adoption of IoT and broad enthusiasm for emerging technologies, sales of exciting new tech products are expected to reach $286.6 billion in 2016. Top-selling devices include virtual reality headsets, drones, wearable devices, 3D printers, and voice-activated digital assistants. While CTA focuses on the rise in 2016 sales revenues for these products, the products themselves indicate the path of today’s tech transition to home automation.

5. Digital assistant devices

Digital assistant devices provide cloud-based, voice-activated artificial intelligence. Imagine a future where assistants handle everything from digital filing, calendars, and to-do lists. Connecting all the family’s personal assistants could simultaneously sync everyone’s calendar, update the family schedule screen on the connected refrigerator, and send a message to a shiny, cool “Wake-Me” drone if wake-up calls are requested.

4. 3D printers

The expansion of 3D printers is running parallel with the explosion of imaginative applications. Connecting your 3D printer to your smart home will probably be more useful with time, but I can imagine printing drones or at least spare parts for the dishwasher. Connected ultrasound scans from your wife’s medical file might make a nice image of your pre-born baby, or at least a medical model of your in-grown toenail.

3. Wearables

Wearable—or fashionable—technology merges clothing or accessories with electronics, software, and connectivity to the IoT. Smartwatches are trendy, but fitness activity trackers are in the lead. Once connected to your smart home, your tracker’s data can be added to your medical files. You might even connect with a virtual coach to share the data via your digital assistant device.

2. Drones

The sky’s the limit when imagining all the great uses for personal drones, once they are connected to a smart home (and maybe a 3D printer). A “Wake-Me” drone might offer a variety of ways to wake everyone in their preferred manner. How about “Bruno the Guard Dog,” a loud, ferocious drone connected to the home security system. Or “Change-It,” a connected lighting support drone that knows when, where, and how to change a dead light bulb. A connected “Clean-It” drone could be deployed by the energy system if it detects solar panel performance slipping.

1. Virtual reality headsets

VR headsets wrap up home automation with a bow. Imagine your VR headset connected to “Bruno the Guard Dog Drone.” Go up on the roof with “Clean-It” and safely check out your entire solar installation for yourself. Work out, or review your fitness data with your online personal trainer in virtual reality. Or, if you’re really into VR, why not enter the IoT network itself, like Tron. Connect your buddy’s VR headset, too, and go together!

The exponential growth of IoT

Shawn DuBravac, PhD, is CTA’s chief economist. DuBravac believes that “the swath of emerging categories hitting the market in 2016 and the exponential growth of IoT are indelibly shaping the way we live our lives.”

CTA president and CEO Gary Shapiro concurs, stating, “This is a pivotal point in consumer technology history, as emerging tech categories—virtual reality, voice-controlled digital assistants, drones—push the entire industry forward.”

Regarding the exciting transformations that humans and technologies are simultaneously undergoing, DuBravac predicts, “How we use the Internet, and the new products coming to market today, are changing who we are becoming.”

How are your new tech toys changing you? Who are you becoming? Your answers probably predict the cool connections your future smart home will offer!