ByteSnap Design, an embedded systems design, and development specialist have released its predictions for the smart home sector ahead of World Smart Home Day on November 3, 2022.
Every day, smart home devices become more common. They enable us to remotely control our homes, monitor our health, automate tasks, and even provide entertainment.
According to Dunstan Power, Director at ByteSnap Design:
“World Smart Home Day celebrates new technologies, devices, and appliances in our homes. We asked our engineers to reveal the trends to watch, including the rise of Matter standard, homes powering the move to off-grid, and consumption dictated by energy suppliers.”
Is it true that the Matter Standard (Matter) is the key to interoperability?
Since its inception, the rise of the Matter Standard has been a hot topic. The open-source community decided in 2017 to create a new specification known as Matter Standard (MST). This was done to combine multiple IoT technologies into a single unified solution.
The initiative, announced in 2018 by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), aims to bring together all of the major players in the smart home ecosystem under one umbrella. The goal is to develop a single open-source software stack that will allow developers to create cross-platform smart home products without worrying about compatibility issues.
Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Huawei, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo, and Lenovo have already joined this initiative. In addition, Apple and Samsung are members of the consortium.
It is difficult to predict whether the matter standard (Matter) will be “the one thing” that unifies IoT – there are still too many differences between the various standards, and they are incompatible with one another. There are numerous factors that could bring the industry together, but it will take time. The transition from VHS to DVD, for example, took about ten years.
It is currently experiencing delays and is bulky. Regardless of the criticism, we’d like to see things move forward because this could be the interoperable ecosystem that everyone is looking for.
Connecting smart homes and cars to enable off-grid operation
We believe that more devices will be connected to the home in the future. An electric vehicle, for example, will interact with your home’s energy management system. Heat pumps, washing machines, car chargers, solar panels, batteries, and other devices will contribute to the development of an IoT ecosystem.
The idea is that excess energy is stored in a battery rather than exported to the grid during the day. It goes into your car if there is no battery.
If you don’t have a car, it goes into your heat pump or water storage for latent energy; it runs your dishwasher or washing machine while there is excess energy available.
This requires devices to communicate with one another as well as with a central system.
Energy providers dictate consumption times
New products must be designed with energy demand response in mind against the backdrop of an IoT-powered system that keeps the energy in the home or vehicle.
In the future, for grid-supplied energy, your home, and energy provider may reveal when to use energy-saving devices. For example, there will be peak points where consumers go home and plug in their cars, etc., so stored energy can be used, or if charging is not required at that time, the home can take charge.
Devices must be designed as part of the larger picture so that they can respond when instructed to use less energy as part of demand response programs. This could be contentious because consumers want access to energy at all times. However, in times of energy scarcity, balance is essential, and consumers may need to adjust when they use their devices. Financial incentives from energy suppliers will be required to get consumers on board with these changes.
Created with the goal of minimizing supply chain disruptions
The deployment of smart homes is being hampered by global supply chains. The best way to avoid supply shortages is to ensure that designs transparently support different hardware variants.
More than ever, adaptability is required. Using a different chip, for example, may imply that different storage is available. For a design that requires 8KB of storage, it may be cheaper to purchase 32 KB from a very similar processor.
The unit cost will be affected, but a product will be available. Manufacturers, such as Tesla, do this all the time by creating a product that is supported even if certain chips are no longer available. Early higher costs should translate into less pain later.
The rise of software as a service – IoT subscription models
Software as a service (SaaS) has become the new normal with the rise of cloud computing and mobile devices. Instead of installing applications on individual computers or servers, SaaS allows businesses to deliver them over the Internet. This model enables businesses to provide software to customers without worrying about hardware maintenance or upgrades.
While SaaS was initially developed for enterprise applications, the concept has now spread to consumer apps as well. SaaS has grown in popularity due to its convenience, flexibility, scalability, and cost savings. Furthermore, SaaS assists organizations in lowering IT costs and increasing productivity.
Several startups are already developing new applications for smartwatches, fitness trackers, thermostats, and other connected devices. Subscriptions for IoT devices are available from the following companies:
- Nest Labs
Understanding how to monetize their business is a challenge for these startups. They simply want to sell their customers subscriptions. This approach does not work well when some IoT devices are only used a few times per month. As a result, they’ll need to figure out how to keep their customers interested after the initial sale.
Meanwhile, BMW has jumped on the SaaS bandwagon, adding subscription models to standard features like heated seats in some of their vehicles. Consumers are already reacting negatively to this, as “subscription fatigue” has set in in many subscription services.
IoT device developers must follow compliance rules to ensure security, dependability, and interoperability. The Internet of Things has also given rise to a slew of new legal issues. Companies, for example, could be held liable for data breaches caused by faulty equipment.
This means that manufacturers must go above and beyond to ensure that their IoT products are safe and secure before releasing them to the market.
Compliance refers to meeting specific standards, rules, or guidelines in areas such as safety, such as fire prevention, and privacy (data protection).
Furthermore, compliance necessitates that manufacturers design products that adhere to specific industry standards. A medical device, for example, must adhere to FDA standards, whereas a car must adhere to FMVSS standards.
Licensing fees are a bit of a shambles. Smart home device developers must consider certification licensing. Even if the product and software are the same, each stakeholder must obtain a license for white-labeled products.
You must be accredited when designing for Matter Standard, for example. The CSA maintains an up-to-date list of approved devices. Apple Homekit, Google Home, and other smart home ecosystems have similar requirements.
Children and voice assistants
Voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home are being integrated into homes all over the world. We can use our voices to ask questions, play music, read text messages, order food, and so on. Voice control is becoming more common as a result of these new features.
As children observe their parents using these tools, they may begin to use them as well. The rise of voice assistants has also raised concerns about privacy.
Children are beginning to use voice assistants at home, but some experts warn that this trend may lead to problems in the future. Children who use voice assistants, for example, may develop habits that affect their social skills later in life. As a result, it is up to parents to encourage their children to use these devices correctly and safely.
The following are the key takeaways for smart home product designers:
- Create new products with an eye toward energy demand response (for the Home Energy Management Systems of the future).
- Avoid chip shortages by designing for hardware contingencies – early cost increases should result in less pain later.
- Consider the licensing and certification requirements for your smart home product carefully.
Smart homes are constantly changing and will play an increasingly important role in future societies. The goal is for smart homes to help us live healthier lives and provide more convenience, which presents a plethora of opportunities for product developers.