From the moment you wake up in the morning, the house reacts to your needs. The automated lights turn on slowly to wake you up at a scheduled time. From the comfort of your bed, you switch on your coffee machine so your morning cup is fresh and hot by the time you arrive downstairs for breakfast.
You enter the bathroom and stand in front of your intelligent mirror. The mirror’s reflective surface springs to life with all the information you need to kick-start your day, including the weather and the morning’s top news. The device also plays your favourite music so you are always guaranteed to start the day in a good mood.
After getting ready, you go to the kitchen for breakfast where your smart refrigerator alerts you that you are nearly out of milk. With the tap of a finger on the fridge’s touch screen, you can restock your fridge and order all your groceries for the week through an online store.
The infiltration of technology to assist with these small daily tasks may just be the beginning. The fully-connected home is designed to boost energy efficiency, protect against intruders and even monitor your family’s health. With the rapid growth in the home automation industry, so-called smart home systems have already hit the mainstream – although the high cost of such devices keeps them out of reach for many. But there are signs that this is about to change.
This year, revenue from the smart home market is expected to exceed $US48 billion, according to recent Strategy Analytics forecasts. By 2019, the sector’s market revenue will increase to $115 billion. By the end of this decade, nearly 12 percent of global households will have at least one type of smart system installed. In fact, Tony Fadell, the CEO of Nest – the connected homes product company that was bought by Google earlier this year – has predicted that within a decade, every electrical device in your home will be connected to the internet.
While the smart home market is quickly gaining traction in developed countries, there are now signs that the trend is spreading to the emerging markets. Consumers in the Asia Pacific region has been particularly keen to embrace the new connected technologies, as tech companies begin to acknowledge the opportunities in this sector.
Connected home firm Icontrol Networks expanded to Asia in October, with the company partnering with a Japanese cable provider to offer a smart home system that consumers can install themselves. This month, Chinese electronics firm Xiaomi invested 1.26 billion yuan (about $200 million) in home appliance company Midea, as it looks to expand into the smart homes market.
Lamudi Kenya Managing Director, Dan Karua, said: “The smart home concept is all about making living much more comfortable, as well as more efficient, which means that the concept has universal appeal. As prices come down in the coming years and people worldwide begin to focus more on issues such as energy saving, we expect to see this trend sweep the emerging markets as well.”