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  • THE LAB REPORT

    In the economic boom that followed the Second

    World War, homes around the world saw an influx of

    technology that would revolutionise the way we live;

    creating large amounts of leisure time that would have

    once been spent doing household chores.

    Home appliances that we take for granted today would

    have been an expensive novelty in the early part of the

    20th Century, if indeed they existed at all.

    But in the most part, little has changed since then.

    While cheaper and more efficient today, devices like

    vacuum cleaners, irons, kettles, washing machines and

    dishwashers function in much the same way as they

    did when they were initially conceived.

    And as the productivity gains of new technologies

    plateaued, consumer appetite for the next time saving

    gadget waned. New entrants to the market were

    often viewed as expensive and unnecessary.

    THE SMART HOME REVOLUTION

    Rob Smith

    Rob Smith is Strategy and Insights Manager for the Digital Products, Innovation and Insight team within IT. He looks at emerging trends in business, society, and technology to identify opportunities for the O2 business.

    New technologies could revolutionise how we understand, engage with, and serve our customers. In these special reports from The Lab, we take a look at how future technology trends could shape the way we do business at O2.

    Smart home technologies could provide the biggest shift in how we live for over half a century.

  • 2

    This report was published in Feb 2017

    TECHNOLOGY

    But real life implementation of the technology was

    limited to enthusiasts and hobbyists, building DIY

    systems using an array of component parts. Specialist

    electronics manufacturers and retailers targeted their

    products at these innovators and early adopters, and

    they often required a high level of technical knowledge

    to configure.

    However, over the past few years this has started to

    change, and smart home technology has become more

    accessible to a wider portion of home owners.

    This is due to a confluence of forces:

    The ubiquity of home broadband & Wi-Fi As of 2015 close to 80% of homes in the UK had Wi-Fi1,

    making it easy to retrofit internet enabled devices,

    without having to worry about installing an access

    point to connect them.

    The smart phone revolution Whether connecting over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the mobile

    phone provides a simple way to interact with and

    configure smart devices, through a mechanism that

    is familiar to virtually everyone.

    Simplification of the user journey Entrance into the market of mainstream technology companies

    like Apple, Google and Samsung have helped to give

    devices mass market appeal, by focusing on design

    quality and ease of use.

    This sits along-side the falling price and increasing

    sophistication of the underlying technology, which is

    making new devices economically viable to produce for

    the first time.

    Removal of the technical barriers to adoption has

    coincided with an increasingly tech savvy target

    audience, who are not intimidated by the proliferation

    of new technology throughout our lives.

    What is currently available?Globally, a number of service providers including AT&T,

    Deutsche Telecom, SK Telecom and Telstra, have started

    selling connected home ecosystems. Their offerings

    focus on providing help and support as well as devices

    from multiple different suppliers.

    THE LAB REPORT

    THE STORY SO FAR...The concept of home automation has been around for a long time and has been a feature of many popular sci-fi movies.

  • 3

    This report was published in Feb 2017

    3TECHNOLOGY

    Phillips Hue - This range of LED light bulbs and strips can be controlled from your phone, to create different lighting effects depending on what you are doing.

    Amazon Echo - The smart speaker from Amazon enables a range of other smart devices around the home to be voice controlled. The inbuilt virtual personal assistant, Alexa is also capable of responding to user questions and completing simple tasks.

    Nest - Nest Labs was acquired by Google in 2014, and sells a range of smart home technology including a smoke and carbon monoxide detector and a smart thermostat.

    Hive - (British Gas) The Hive range of connected home products began with Hive active heating, a smart thermostat that enables you to control your heating and hot water from your phone. Other Hive products now include motion sensors and lighting.

    Source: nest.com

    Source: hive home blog Source: meethue.com

    Examples of todays technologyOver the past few years, there has been a flurry activity in this space, with companies from a variety of

    backgrounds launching new products and propositions. Some of the better known products include:

    Source: androidcentral.com

  • 4TRENDS

    THE LAB REPORT

    WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?The technology that we see today is really just the starting point for the connected home. Over the coming years well see the emergence of some key trends that will accelerate adoption and forever alter the way we interact with our homes.

  • 5

    This report was published in Feb 2017

    TRENDS

    Three big trends impacting smart home

    1. ZERO UIToday we think of our smart phones as the centre of

    our connected world, referring back to our screens to

    control the devices around us. But our interaction with

    many devices in the future will be screen-less2.

    The concept of zero user interface refers to a world

    where devices are controlled primarily by voice, gesture,

    biometrics or even simple eye movements.

    We already see this technology in existence today,

    in devices like Amazon Echo and Microsoft Kinect,

    but it will become more widespread in the future as

    designers seek to remove the friction between user and

    technology.

    More human, intuitive ways of interacting will

    become the norm and devices will become capable of

    processing ever more complicated instructions.

    2. TRULY SMARTMost of the technology that we refer to today as

    smart isnt really very sophisticated at all and

    would be better described simply as connected.

    But the tidal wave of advances in machine learning

    and artificial intelligence that is already underway will

    unquestionably change this.

    These advances will underpin a revolution in home

    appliances, making them truly smart for the first time.

    Ultimately, smart eco-systems will take over some of

    the thinking from their human masters, proactively

    making decisions on their behalf as to how best to run

    the home. This will include devices becoming self-

    configuring; with new devices instantly recognising the

    larger eco-system they are part of and finding their role

    within in.

    Smart thermostats like tado are already moving in

    this direction, automatically using your phones GPS to

    detect when youre not in the house and turning the

    temperature down. It will also look at the weather to

    make sure it is heating the house in the most efficient

    way depending on the outside environment.

  • 6

    This report was published in Feb 2017

    TRENDS

    3. INTEGRATED, INTERCONNECTED &EMBEDDEDMost existing smart home solutions involve installing

    modern devices into often decades-old buildings. But

    as IoT technology is still in its relative infancy, there is

    a lack of standardisation and many of these devices

    function in fairly standalone manner. Sales of point

    solutions have led to a proliferation of connection

    hubs and a requirement for multiple disparate apps to

    control them.

    As the technology matures, interconnectivity between

    devices will improve, removing the need for duplication

    of components and creating a web of devices around

    your home that can automatically talk and interact with

    one another.

    Standardisation will also help to drive adoption,

    and well move to a scenario where technology is

    embedded into the very fabric of the building. As

    opposed to door sensors stuck to the door frame,

    theyll come as standard, built into the doors. And we

    wont need to buy smart plugs, because every plug will

    be smart from the moment pen is put to paper on the

    first designs for the building.

    WHAT WILL ALL THIS ENABLE?As the technology becomes more sophisticated, smart

    home systems will proactively take on complex tasks to

    support and enhance our daily lives:

    Monitoring the power consumption in your home to decide the optimal time to use certain devices, and

    proactively switching between energy suppliers and

    solar power to control costs

    Home appliances triggering alerts when components need repair, automatically scheduling time with a

    certified engineer and ordering the relevant parts,

    without need for assistance from the owner

    Lights automatically coming on, the kettle automatically boiling and your car heating up when

    the system detects that youve woken up in the

    morning

    GRADUAL ADOPTIONWhile the proliferation of technology

    throughout the home is somewhat inevitable,

    it will take many years before the sci-fi vision

    of home automation and virtual assistants

    becomes widespread.

    The typical lif