Smart Home: Where We are Now

January 2021

Smart home is one of the most appealing topics in Home & Tech-related industries but also a concept that is often misrepresented. This briefing defines smart home as powered by artificial intelligence (AI) enabled appliances that are capable of automatically tracking, learning, sensing, identifying and reacting with little or no human intervention. With Coronavirus impacting, this briefing maps out where smart home development is heading in addition to the status quo.

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Key findings

Popularisation of controlling devices such as smart speakers and smart TVs can be catalyst to incubate consumers’ embrace of connected appliances and home

Widespread smart speakers especially in Europe and North America are expected to stimulate the embrace of connected appliances as consumers’ habit of using such devices is being fostered through stronger awareness. Globally rising smart TVs with large screens are positioned by manufacturers as offering superior access to monitor and control connected appliances and could gradually lead to extensive acceptance of the connected home.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an indispensable element of smart home to enable little or no human intervention and advanced personalisation

Smart home is powered by AI-enabled smart appliances with deep learning as an integral part. Supervised learning, relying on training data input backstage, is already manifest in miscellaneous smart functions - auto-matched laundry and drying cycles, smart food inventory management, etc. Self-supervised learning, however, tracks owners’ living patterns or distinctive appliance settings to direct the autonomous learning process and generation of personalised solutions, which continues to be offered with certain refrigeration and home laundry appliances launched in 2020 and will still be the ultimate goal.

Three key features of smart home, namely “automation”, “personalisation” and “holistic”, map out the development path

To reach “automation”, manufacturers embed voice control systems into appliances and other home products and deploy various human motion and environment sensors. To realise “personlisation”, image recognition has been implemented in smart food inventory management and fabric identification and now scent detection emerges as another utilisable technology. To be “holistic”, ecosystems featuring cross-industry connectivity are being developed.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) brings new meanings to megatrends and gives rise to opportunities

Due to COVID-19, smart wearables witness robust growth momentum, cooking at home returns to be an experiential activity and AR/VR shopping is strengthened, which creates opportunities for smart living room, kitchen and bedroom.

Introduction

Scope
Key findings

Defining Connected and Smart Home

Defining homes, connected homes and smart homes
Components of connected homes: controlling devices, appliances, cloud
Smart homes are powered by AI-enabled smart appliances…
… and cross-industry connectivity to provide ecosystem services

Component Trends of Connected Home

C ontrolling devices, connected appliances and Cloud OS
(1) Controlling Devices: smart speaker/home assistant can be a catalyst
Smart TV potential as control hub becoming evident
Voice control on smart TVs can expedite their rise as control hubs
Controlling systems are being built in appliances, is furniture next?
(2) Connected Appliances : Asia leads in connected appliances sales
Connected appliances continue growth momentum despite COVID-19
Connectivity improves brands’ agility during COVID-19
Connected washing machines prevail globally due to ideal functionality
High connectivity rate of fridge freezers in South Korea due to joint effort
Air conditioners dominate global connected small appliance sales
(3) C loud OS: Interoperability now sees barriers due to business priorities
5G tackles latency but not privacy, edge computing might be the solution
Google’s Local Home software tool aims to realise “local fulfillment”

Category Trends of Smart Home

Auto-dosing/replenishment and downloadable cycles are now customary
Interconnected washer and dryer is one of the product launch hotspots
Visible interior of connected fridge freezer paves way for AI functions
Inside camera is not a new concept, but AI only just taking advantage
Built-in cameras in smart ovens become pervasive for leading brands…
… and are performing advanced functions outstripping real time monitor
Smart air conditioners upgraded to optimise more than temperature
Energy saving is no longer merely a pre-set mode
Advanced solutions to drive sales of smart appliances
Key takeaways

Three Key Features of Smart Home

Three key features of smart home: automated, personalised and holistic
(1) Automated: Voice assistant is omnipresent
Detection of humans and environment promotes automation to next level
(2) Personalised: AI might not be a “must” for personalisation…
… but indispensable to build personalised smart home
Phase I learning: supervised learning – Image recognition is growing…
… scent detection might be another value-added feature of smart models
Phase II learning: self-supervised learning for greater personalisation
(3) Holistic: ecosystem is the key word
The food ecosystem: extensive partnership and sustainability initiatives
Kitchen witnesses rapidly growing ecosystem partnership (a)
Kitchen witnesses rapidly growing ecosystem partnership (b)
Grocery delivery and healthy diet sol utions pivotal for partner selection
Emerging models to battle food waste: Gardening and stock underselling
L aundry ecosystem: appliance manufacturers eyeing consumables
Haier ’s pre-treatment products to satisfy pursuit of effective steam wash
Launch of pre-treatment products is a tactic worth pondering in Europe…
… and potentially a right fit for the subscription business model
Key takeaways

Where We are Heading: Post-Covid-19

Leaders harness megatrends to disrupt a market
Three key megatrends open opportunities for primary smart home scenarios
Exploring opportunities post-COVID-19 (1): Smart and experiential cooking
Exploring opportunities post-COVID-19 (2): Tailored air for home gym
Exploring opportunities post-COVID-19 (3): AR/VR from store to bedroom
Key takeaways
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