Our smart homes of 2022
DOORS that automatically lock when you leave home, garage doors that rise when you return, TVs that turn black when you fall asleep, and cupboard sensors that help you determine who has been stealing the chocolate biscuits.
This mix of quirky and convenient smart home technology is coming to Australia next year as tech companies race to lead what is forecast to become a $276 billion market by 2022.
And “dumb” homes are expected to get a major boost as Samsung finally rolls out its smart home products in Australia, connecting everything from lights and security cameras to washing machines and vacuum cleaners to the internet so users can employ from afar.
Analysts predict Samsung’s launch will change the way we clean the house, do the washing, order groceries, and even the way we play with pets.
But they also warn smart appliance buyers not to become complacent about the security of these alwaysconnected devices to stop them becoming an unwanted window into otherwise private lives.
Samsung finally launched the first of its SmartThings devices for homes this week in partnership with Victorian insurance firm, RACV.
The companies will sell early adopters a $378 Smart Home Starter Kit loaded with sensors they can place onon doo doors and d windows for security, and devices to detect temperatures and movement to monitor homes using a connected smartphone.
Samsung Electronics Australia category management head Eric Chou said the kit also included professional installation – an addition designed to help users get the most out of the technology and address complaints that smart home gadgets were too difficult to use.
When installed correctly, Mr Chau said, the SmartThings gadgets could “automate” common scenarios, making life easier for users.
“When you leave the home in the morning, for example, it could dim the lights, turn on your security sensors, lock the doors, and turn on your robot vacuum cleaner,” he said.
“It’s not just about manually turning on all of your devices at home but triggering that based on a scenario.”
The technology could also turn lights off in other rooms when you go to bed, he said, or cool your house as you travel home from work, set the scene for movie night, or warn you when the iron had been left on or your clothes were washed and waiting.
Mr Chau said Samsung’s SmartThings devices would be launched in Australia over the next six months, with a key focus on home security and connected lighting.
The system currently worked with 25 brands of smart products in Australia, he said, but would grow to support more models over time.
But Samsung is far from the only tech firm trying convince Australians to connect more everyday items to the internet.
Smart home specialists Nest has released outdoor and indoor cameras, and even smart smoke alarms in Australia, and Amazon-owned Ring, which makes videostreaming doorbells and spotlights, is making an impact on Australian home security.
Philips has just released a range of smart outdoor lights in time for Christmas, Nano- leaf offers artsy, lighting tiles that could be controlled by Siri or Google Assistant, and Telstra now sells do-it-yourself smart home kits.
Telsyte principal analyst Foad Fadaghi said smart home technology would skyrocket in Australia over the next three years, predicting each household would own more than 36 internet-connected devices by 2022.
Samsung’s launch in the market would deliver a major boost to the trend, he said, but it was important that everyday appliances were smart by default and it wasn’t left to consumers to install fiddly gadgets.
“Bringing sensors into the market is really only a part of the puzzle,” he said.
“More critical will be having connected appliances for similar prices. When you decide to replace your fridge and the cost of a smart fridge is only marginally more expensive that will lead to mass adoption (of smart home products).”
Mr Fadaghi said smart products also needed to make better use of artificial intelli- gence and machine learning technology to be truly convenient. “They need savvy software to create smart outcomes, not just connect products together,” he said.
“Smart products need to proactively recommend that a window be closed because the temperature has changed, for example, or that a product needs to be reordered from the grocery store.”
International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted smart home technology would boom over the next four years, with 939 million devices shipped in 2022 in a market that will be worth more than $276 billion.
IDC consumer internet-ofthings program senior research analyst Adam Wright said smart speakers and smartphone voice assistants would pave the way for homes to become smarter, as users became more accustomed to asking for machines to do their bidding.
“While it’s still early days for the smart home market – and the wider consumer IoT ecosystem in general – we ex- pect to see considerable growth over the next few years, especially as consumers become more aware and increasingly interact with smart assistant platforms like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant,” he said.
Mr Fadaghi warned that Australians were still “concerned” about the privacy implications of these listening devices, however, and about who could access their smart home networks.
Issues inherent in the technology were highlighted this week when a hacker admitted taking control over more than 50,000 connected printers and guiding them towards a YouTube account.
“Spread the word about printer and printer security – this is actually a scary matter,” the Twitter user calling himself TheHackerGiraffe explained.
Unisys Australia Pacific security services director Ashwin Pal said users should turn on automatic security software updates to avoid similar hacking attempts.