Staying Connected: A Numbers-Driven Guide to Home Automation

The home automation industry is expected to experience rapid growth in the upcoming years by growing at an annual compound rate of 11.36 percent.

Social networking, online shopping and email are all on glowing display in the pantheon of remarkable inventions over the decades.

While emerging sectors within the economy can be difficult to spot, it’s safe to assume that one of the few guarantees over the next several years will be the continued growth and consumption of technology. Among one of the emerging markets within technology is home automation. According to a study conducted by Market and Markets, the home automation industry is expected to grow at an annual compound rate of 11.36 percent between 2014 and 2020.

In terms of the monetary significance it carries, the automation market was valued at $5.7 billion in 2013 and is expected to be worth $12.81 billion by 2020.

But given the surging potential and increasing demand of home automation, it’s worth taking a look at how the technology functions, its history and future, as well as consumer opinions. This home automation guide will cover all three.

What is Home Automation and How Does it Work?

According to Xfinity, the cable division of Comcast, “home automation refers to the automatic and electronic control of household features, activity and appliances.” Through making their home “smart,” users are able to control domestic functions such as setting their thermostat to a certain temperature, turning on lights, closing blinds, etc.— regardless of location and all through their smart devices.

This is made possible through devices being connected to one another, a trend known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Techopedia defines IoT as a computing concept that entails everyday physical objects being connected to the internet. Furthermore, IoT refers to a world where anything can be connected and communicate intelligently.

Looking Back: The History of Home Automation

This image highlights the history of home automation by noting significant events relating to its progress, such as the launch of Wink in 2014.

Surprisingly, the concept of home automation isn’t new. As a matter of fact, ideas similar to the current usage of this technology originated at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1934. Fast forward to the 1970s, and a system called X10 was using power lines between appliances to cultivate communication. In 1984, the National Association of Home Builders created a special interest group – Smart House – that promoted that technology gets included in home design. This term was coined as “Cybertecture,” which referred to combining computers and architecture.

In 1990, Dan Lynch of information technology trade fair InterOp connected a toaster to the Internet. While a human still had to place bread in the toaster, the one control would turn on the power from its connection.

In 1998, the INTEGER Millennium House was built in Garston, England. This home demonstrated how home automation could be integrated with several everyday items, such as heating, lights, security systems and more. The year 2010 saw iPod designer Tony Fadell found the company Nest, which strives to makes home automation products simpler and appeal to the masses.

In 2014, Wink is launched by Ben Kaufman with the objective of allowing all automated devices to be controlled by one app. During the same year, multiple heavy weights begin investing in companies within the automated field, as the upside to this technology wasn’t going unnoticed. Below are just a couple of the headline-worthy acquisitions:

  • Samsung acquired SmartThings for $200 million.
  • Google acquired Nest Labs for $3.2 billion.

The Future of Home Connectivity

Moving forward, research by information technology company i-Control reveals that 9 billion devices will be connected to the home by 2018, up from the 1.9 billion connected devices in 2015. To put some perspective behind the explosive growth of this market, it’s worth noting that as of 2013 the global population was 7.1 billion, meaning that in the next few years there will be more connected devices in the world than people. This shouldn’t come as a shock, however, especially considering that there are currently 2.6 billion smartphone subscriptions worldwide – a number that’s projected to climb to 6.1 billion by 2020.

Consumer Opinions

While the growth numbers for home automation are clear, what exactly does the consumer want in their smart home? According to the i-Control study previously referenced, the top five items in highest demand are:

  • Self-adjusting thermostat
  • Doors that can be locked remotely
  • Master remote control
  • Home monitoring cameras
  • Automatic outdoor lighting

Furthermore, the same research study determined that of all items surveyed for, respondents were most likely to buy the following over the next 12 months:

  • Home camera
  • Thermostat
  • Lighting

But just how interested are consumers in smart homes? While the aforementioned items would likely be purchased by enthusiasts who openly welcome technological innovation, one might assume that the general public may be holding back their excitement. Understandable, but research from IoT services and software company Greenwave Systems reports that 65 percent of American consumers “are moderately or extremely interested in adopting a smart home solution.” Considering the advantages of convenience, security and the potential value that smart devices can add to a home, the benefits abound.

Home Automation and HVAC

Connecting your home is within reach. If you’re interested in learning more about HVAC and your home automation, contact us today.