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Smart technologies set to boom

Consumers are embracing smart home technology while the latest development in Bluetooth wireless technology is set to shake up the commercial sector. These messages were delivered in two presentations at the Smart Building Conference at ISE 2018.

David B Hofmann, managing partner of consultancy mm1, noted: “An OECD study says that, by 2020, there will be 38 smart devices in each family home. It’s a very competitive market.”

Smart TVs, speakers, thermostats, security cameras and more are entering homes at a rapid rate, with companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung, Microsoft and even Ikea pushing smart products.

Hofmann said the main driver for consumer uptake of smart home technology was not reducing energy costs, but “comfort and security. People are using smart thermostats to warm the bathroom on a cold winter’s day and not for cutting their energy bill.”

Although the smart home market has grown quickly, it still faces challenges, Hofmann added. “There is a chasm between consumers and providers of the technology. Consumers are concerned about the cost, but providers don’t see it as a big issue.” Hofmann told ISE Daily that you also need someone in the household who is tech-savvy, to install the technology.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Bluetooth, Szymon Slupik, CTO of Silvair noted: “There are 33,000 companies in the Bluetooth Special Interest Group, and more than 3 billion Bluetooth devices are shipped each year.”

The latest Bluetooth development, Bluetooth mesh, opens the way for countless Bluetooth devices – such as lights and sensors – working together on a single network.

Mesh paves the way for smart lighting systems. Slupik described mesh as “a revolution which will be available to every building, every building owner and every tenant.”

Slupik said the three main challenges for Bluetooth mesh – security, interoperability and reliability – had already been addressed.

Asked whether cost was also an issue, Slupik said: “Cost is an important issue, but the volume of Bluetooth shipments is driving the cost down. Bluetooth is a complex technology, but the chips are already less than $1 each, and as volumes increase, the cost will get even lower.”