Folks who are new to IoT and smart homes may feel otherwise, but I’m not as excited as I used to be with smart home technology and products. Maybe it’s because I’ve been tinkering in this space for nearly a decade. Or maybe it’s because of what Stacey alluded to back in April:
I thought the smart home’s world of connectivity, sensors, and services would let people customize exactly the sort of devices and services they needed, much like software let novices create web sites.
That didn’t happen. Part of this was a lack of standards, but a large part of it was that the mainstream consumer isn’t a tinkerer who wants to figure out how to build a sensor that can tell them if their child wakes up and is wandering the house in the middle of the night. Or for people who want to create a recipe to run on their porch lights when their garage door opens after dark. These aren’t huge pain points.
I agree with her: Much of the current home automation and smart home technologies aren’t tackling major pain points. Nor are they really pushing the envelope as far as I had hoped by now.
As I walked away from the Consumer Electronics Show in January, I felt that we saw more of the same with incremental updates. And worst of all – to me, anyway – was the feeling that even in 2019, the smart home really isn’t that smart.
What has me flummoxed is that we continually talk about advances in AI and ML only to not see much of that delivered to the home.
When will my home truly learn my preferences and habits so that it can adjust accordingly? Smartphones are already doing this, determining what app we’re most likely to open next and loading it into memory for a faster experience, for example.
And when will my house not just know what room is occupied, but who is in each room so that it can set the appropriate personalized light levels or music playlists? Where is the predictive nature that advancements in AI and ML are promising?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m still excited about the smart home space. But that excitement is getting tampered down as more device makers are bought by larger companies, such as Ring being scooped up by Amazon. As the smaller, more innovative companies who push the envelope are bought by the Amazon’s and Google’s of the world, it feels as though the big push forward from the little guys is reeled back in.
Here’s another interesting observation: Earlier this week, I asked Stacey when the last time she was excited about a new “must have” product for the home. She shared three examples with me, only to realize that some of them were at least a year or two ago. I’m in the same boat: The Lenovo Smart Display was the last new product I felt was a must have for my home; it was one of Stacey’s choices as well. Vector was another one of mine back in October, but instead of thriving and gaining new smarts, he’s likely dying a slow, painful death.
Like I said, maybe it’s just me. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and in particular, how long you’ve been investing in smart home products.
I’m curious to see if others who have been around the smart home block a few times feel as I do, as compared to others who have recently added an Amazon Echo or Google Home and some connected products to their home recently.