We’re spotting two main tech trends that will dominate lifestyle technology this year. Before we get into each category, let’s look at the themes:
Voice: Everything, and we mean everything, is integrating voice control in 2018. TVs, speakers, kitchen appliances, cars… It’s Team Alexa vs Team Google Assistant, with Josh AI gunning solely for home control ownership.
Profiling: With too many logins to juggle, brands are now trying to remember user preferences (and passwords) across devices and locations. It’s all about eliminating friction and log in fatigue in the age of convenience.
While Google and Amazon continue to fill homes with low quality (yet high convenience) sound, every mid-range speaker brand is following Sonos this year by (a) integrating voice and (b) allowing multiple speakers to be linked together. The challenge is not to beat Sonos’ sound quality. It’s to beat their interface, which currently is the most intuitive on the market.
Higher end audio brands will mostly maintain their aversion to wireless as it is antithetical to the protected (lossless quality, interference free) nature of audiophile sound. Instead expect to see more attention paid to form and materials (think speaker as art piece.)
Even projectors are integrating voice control in 2018. Expect smarter out-of-the-box recognition of devices and streaming services from leaders like Samsung and Sony. The upcoming buzzword is MicroLED, which builds every pixel from three separate (red, green and blue) lights. Same benefits as last year’s tech without the downsides (degradation, burn in, size limitations.) It’s also brighter overall and has better off-angle viewing.
Finally, look for a new wave of voice-controlled table top video displays similar to Echo Show. JBL and Lenovo are launching their versions with Google Assistant, while Facebook will launch Portal for home video chat.
After the mad dash toward LED lighting, 2018 will see a focus on tunable white. Garish color temperatures have been the black mark on many LED installations, and the ability to adjust by individual degree will markedly improve the experience.
We also expect to see more party trick integrations, such as Philips Hue‘s upcoming ability to sync lighting to whatever is playing on your computer.
This notoriously challenging element of the smarthome will see more brands forego the meticulous fitting and wiring for simple battery powered solutions. Some brands will spend 2018 testing this approach, while those who have already tried it (like Lutron) will likely focus on refining the fabric and control options on their wired offerings.
In the age of two-day shipping, smart door locks and security cameras are tackling temporary access for deliveries (and AirBnb guests, dog walkers, etc.) Brands like Nest will continue to expand their own ecosystem, while others like Canary will use Amazon partnerships to leverage the cameras home owners already have sitting around.
This year expect to see more brands try to bridge the gap between DIY and professional automation… Let’s call it DIY Advanced. While DIY platforms will continue to widen their own ecosystems one product at a time, DIY Advanced platforms like Brilliant will offer centralized control over popular brands like Nest, Sonos and Alexa by wiring touch screens into your existing light switch ports.
Professional smarthome platforms like Control4 and Savant will spend this year refining their own voice integration while acquiring more brands and partnerships. It’s all about reliability and performance in more pieces of the smarthome puzzle.
Our goal this year is to demystify. There have never been more connected devices in the home, and with more options comes confusion and misinformation. Our job is to cut through it all. To figure out the most intuitive way to bring technology into your environment. Stay tuned, and check out our social media accounts for a whole lot more.