This is part 2 of our Spotlight on CES 2016, now focusing on smart home. Read part 1 here.

Smart Home 1.0 to Smart Home 2.0

Smart home was definitely the star of the show this year! Two years ago, the smart home sector at CES was a lot of prototypes, last year lots of different products, this year companies were presenting portfolios and suites of products integrated into an ecosystem.

We have definitely seen a proliferation of smart home hubs. However, the hub seems to be a friction point for mass adoption. From a consumer perspective, why would they need a hub and who wants to interact with a router? For the user, what is most important is a seamless experience. Amazon Echo is clearly dominating the smart home market with its user friendly interface. Every company and device wants to integrate with Amazon Echo.

Also, the design might be the key differentiator for the consumer, as all the solutions seem very similar in a technical and performance standpoint. For instance, Nest has become popular because of its appealing design. From a design thinking perspective and a consumer-centric point of view, it is necessary to ask the question “does this device blend well with my life”?

Some interesting announcements and product launches

  • Samsung smart fridge, with huge display, and Mastercard app
  • Marathon, a Sillicon Valley based startup, with its smart laundry
  • Bosch home connect app
  • Netatmo home security

Samsung smart fridge CES 2016In terms of home security, traditional players such as ADT or LG are providing new offerings including security cameras. A camera offers an alternative to the smart home hub, and can become the hub itself. Following the same idea, TV could become the Smart Home hub: Bang & Olufsen TV, for instance, controls smart locks, cameras, light, etc.

We could conclude that it is a new trend to introduce any connected device as the home hub.

Some Emerging Issues

Throughout the workshop, discussion on emerging technologies and products brought about some interesting conversation around some key issues.

Device Connectivity enables generation of vast amounts of data. Some predict that users will be paid to give up their privacy. Tables will turn and it will no longer be an opt out model or power in the hands of the technology companies, rather individuals will be the primary owners of their data and will be paid by companies for access to it. A new category of business may thus emerge: Vendor Relationship Management, where users are in the position of power and in control and negotiate with vendors.

Trust is another big issue surrounding these new technologies. Especially in Europe, privacy and protection of the consumer is affecting how technology companies can operate on the continent and handle personal data.

Safety and security is another big issue, particularly for carmakers. With so much connectivity, the risk and responsibility in case of an accident is transferred to the computer. Legislation and new regulation will emerge to address these matters.

Overall, CES has become a test bed for new products and for companies to figure out how new products bring value to consumers in their daily lives. CES is the place to be, a meeting place for big businesses and startups. CES 2017 has been announced for January 5 – 8, 2017 with an apparent focus on Smart Cities.