Designing for the Smart Home of the Future

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5 Trends for the Smart Energy Home of the Future

Greentech Media, January 9, 2017

While “smart home” could probably describe the offerings over half of the thousands of exhibitors spread out across the acres of CES floor space, this section was filled with many companies that are using home wireless networks, connected devices, and yes, sometimes your home’s electricity consumption, to make houses operate more conveniently, more comfortably and in a more environmentally friendly manner.

However, long gone are the days when companies were trying to sell standalone dashboards and devices that specifically deliver homeowners a play-by-play account of their energy consumption. There’s a reason Google and Microsoft dumped their energy management services several years ago: lack of consumer interest.

Today, many companies have learned that most consumers only want such energy monitoring services if they’re being used for a specific reason, like automatically making a home’s temperature more comfortable and convenient, enabling solar panels to be used more effectively, or adding awareness about what family members are doing throughout a home.

After braving the crowds, the long taxi lines and the subpar casino food, we bring you five trends from CES that are informing the smart energy home of the future.

1) Solar and smart energy: Odds are that if your home has solar panels on the rooftop, you’re going to want to understand how much energy they’re generating and how much energy your home is consuming. The difference could be the amount you could earn, or the amount you might be paying to your utility.

2) Electricity draw equals family awareness: One of the growing trends from both startups and large companies alike at CES is using the monitoring of home electricity to deliver services around “family awareness.” Basically energy sensors, combined with algorithms, can alert Mom and Dad when Junior comes home and starts using the Xbox or when the garage door opens.

3) Smart lights need to be simple: At a kickoff event at the beginning of CES called Unveiled, up-and-coming startups and big companies alike show off their latest buzzy devices inside one ballroom in the hopes that the media will showcase their goods. One thing that surprised me at the event — other than a person on a Segway dressed as a wisecracking robot — was the amount of smart lighting companies that filled the room.

4) Tech for better air and water: Beyond energy, other resources are beginning to draw the attention of the tech industry — air and water.

5) Batteries, the quiet workhorses of CES: Big home batteries, like the kind that Tesla sells, are still not being widely advertised at places like CES. The value proposition to the homeowner just isn’t quite there yet. Perhaps that will change as companies continue to lower the costs of home batteries, as Tesla is trying to do by 30 percent.

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