2018 is in the books and its time to look forward. Here are my 2019 home technology predictions for trends and changes in the smarthome market.
2019 Home Technology Prediction #1: Cordcutting
The cordutting trend started a few years ago and has picked up steam each year. I recently cut the cord. As services like DirecTV Now, Playstation Vu, SlingTV, and YouTube TV have matured more and more users are leaving traditional cable channels. Cable and satellite companies are seeing this trend and slowing their rate increases in response, but the writing is on the wall. AT&T (DirecTV) is already planning the demise of its satellite service.
In addition to existing streaming services maturing, more companies are entering the market. In 2018 we’ve seen newcomers like ESPN+ and the DC Universe, and others like Disney and Apple announce new or significantly expanded services. Eventually, we will go from a few monopoly-like cable services to an extremely fragmented streaming services market. Really like Titans? You have to subscribe to DC Universe. Star Trek: Discovery? CBS’s streaming services. Planning on watching Star Wars: The Mandalorian? You’ll need to subscribe to Disney.
Cordcutting will start to go beyond TV service. 5G is almost here and will be an option for home Internet service, providing speeds, latency, and ease of installation that other services may not be able to offer. ISPs, many who have enjoyed a monopoly in many markets, will start to experience what cable and satellite companies have been experiencing.
2019 Home Technology Prediction #2: The Rise of 5G
5G is is the future of cellular networks, and it won’t just be for home Internet. 2019 will see the first 5G enabled mobile devices as cellular providers build out their 5G networks. 5G is a big leap from 4G in many ways. Theoretical speeds are up to 20Gbits and the towers will be able to handle more simultaneous connections. This will lay the foundation for and/or expand:
- Connected cars – True driverless car systems will require cars to talk to each other.
- Cloud services – Speeds will be fast enough that even more services can be offered from the cloud without latency frustrations.
- Wireless video transmission at higher resolutions (4K/8K mobile streaming?) and information density.
5G will be in its infancy in 2019, but it will start to change mobile Internet access as we know it.
2019 Home Technology Prediction #3: Technology As-A-Service
More and more of our personal computing lives are moving to the cloud and this trend will accelerate in 2019. We have many examples of this already:
- Office 365, G Suite, and other similar services. You no longer need to buy and install an office product on a PC to work with spreadsheets, edit documents, and compose presentations. You can now access these functions online from anywhere, share and collaborate with anyone, from virtually any device.
- Voice assistants. None of the smarts of these speakers lives in the speakers. Questions and commands are sent back to the cloud, processed and then sent back. More and more of our services will work this way.
- Video games. Services like Gamefly and PlayStation Now allow users to play games locally that are run from remote servers.
- Smarthomes. Already many of your smart devices get their “smarts” from the cloud. Alarm systems communicate with cloud servers for automation, thermostats consult the cloud for weather forecasts and scheduling. Routers send information to the cloud to determine if traffic going in and out of your home network is malicious.
These trends will amplify, as they have in the corporate world, over the next year. Once again, 5G will be an enabler.
2019 Home Technology Prediction #4: Privacy and Security Fight Back
News of privacy breaches, hacking, misinformation campaigns, and bots on social media dominated 2018. GDPR changed the privacy landscape by shifting the ownership of data from corporations to the individual consumer for EU residents. Companies will continue to be put under pressure to prove they are not misusing data, to prove they are safeguarding our data, and to provide transparency into how data is used. Will similar legislation start to appear in the US?
Consumers will become more security conscious and demand good security practices of the services and devices they purchase. Also, companies will make it easier for consumers to create secure home networks.
2019 Home Technology Prediction #5: Wearables Take another Step Forward
Wearables have slowly been creeping more and more into our lives. Currently, the market is dominated by fitness trackers and smartwatches. Google continues to improve WearOS, improving the utility and battery life of WearOS watches. Additionally, Fitbit makes incremental improvements to their products every year, as does Apple. The line between fitness trackers and smartwatches will continue to blur more as each is adopting features of the other.
Wearables will increasingly be used for mobile payments. In addition to mobile payments, wearables will increase utility beyond fitness into health (e.g. blood oxygen levels, glucose levels, blood pressure). Companies will continue to work on the next big thing like taking newer and improved shots at smart contacts, smart glasses (remember Google Glasses?) and other wearables.
Although I don’t see great leaps in 2019, I do see the market changing and staying strong.
2019 Home Technology Prediction #6: Smarthome Tech Keeps Growing
Smarthome technology will continue to explode. Smart speakers will penetrate more and more homes (and more and more rooms in each home). Google, Amazon and their partners will increase the functionality of their voice assistants as they march on the path of ubiquity.
In addition to voice assistants, smart hubs will increase in utility. Products like SmartThings, Vera and Home Assistant will make their way into more homes. Right now, smart hubs and creating smart homes is too complicated for the average consumer. To combat this, companies will work to make it easier and easier for everyone to create a smarthome.
The focus of smarthomes today for the majority of consumers is remote control. Tell Alexa or Google to do something and they do it, making people happy. However, the future is in automation, where things happen in your home automatically, based on your routines and preferences. Machine learning will help devices smarten up so they can automate and anticipate your every need.
Tech never stays still, and 2019 will be no different. Some things we see coming, other things take us by surprise. I’m excited to see what the year brings us. What are your predictions?