GET SMART! How technology will change your home
A NEW GENERATION OF DEVICES WILL CHANGE THE WAY WE LIVE, WORK AND PLAY AT HOME, WRITES JENNIFER DUDLEY-NICHOLSON
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 early next year as Samsung releases 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 them 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 our pets.
But they also warn smart appliance buyers not to become complacent about the security of these always-connected devices so they don’t become an unwanted window into our 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 on doors and windows for security, and devices to detect temperatures and movement.
Samsung Electronics Australia category management head Eric Chou says the kit includes 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, Chau says, 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 says.
The technology could also turn lights off in other rooms when you go to bed, he says, 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 are washed and waiting to be hung out.
Chau says 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 works with 25 brands of smart products in Australia, he says, but
would grow to support more models over time.
But Samsung is not the only tech firm trying to 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.
Amazon-owned Ring, which makes videostreaming doorbells and spotlights, is also making an impact on Australian home security.
Telsyte managing director 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.
Global intelligence firm International Data Corporation predicts smart home technology will 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 senior research analyst Adam Wright says smart speakers and smartphone voice assistants would pave the way for homes to become smarter with users becoming 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 expect 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 says.
Fadaghi warns, however, that Australians are still “concerned” about the privacy implications of these listening devices, and about who could access their smart home networks.
Issues inherent in the technology were highlighted this week when a hacker admitted taking control of 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 says users should turn on automatic security software updates to avoid similar hacking attempts.
Helping hands (from top) smart phone security app; LG personal assistant robot; Samsung smart fridge. Picture: Getty Images
Digital Residence consultant Sam Dinham. Picture: Liam Kidston
Smart Things motion sensor is sold by Samsung and RACV.