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Connectivity between physical devices, also broadly known as the Internet of Things (IoT), is one of the most talked about trends both in Australia and globally. The IoT allows for the integration of devices through existing infrastructure either through a local network or more commonly through the internet. When connected with a range of sensors, this technology allows for what is known as “smart-home living”, which enables devices to communicate and share information through a combination of hardware, software and data. Current examples of IoT in a home environment include the controlling of lighting, heating and air conditioning systems and the remote monitoring and controlling of consumer appliances such as robotic vacuum cleaners, air purifiers or even refrigerators.

Home automation is not a new concept. This form of connectivity has been prevalent in security, telecoms and cable companies. However, clunky, hard-to-use systems and exorbitant prices have hampered growth in the homeowner space. In the consumer electronics market, leading brand manufacturers such as Apple and Google are showing us how simple it can be to connect devices through a network infrastructure. Both companies and Amazon have introduced their respective home automation systems which allow compatible devices to work with things such as lights, switches and thermostats which can be controlled remotely either through a smartphone or using voice recognition. These technology giants and other innovative companies such as Amazon and Nest continue to push the boundaries in the development of making home automation both user-friendly, cheap and widely acceptable.

Outlook

As consumers both in Australia and globally continue to demand this type of connectivity across their range of devices, it is possible to see brand manufacturers in both consumer electronics and consumer appliances work together, similar to what the banks are doing to form a cohesive mobile payment network. Considering that personal electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets or smart wearables are generally in the possession of an individual all day, it seems only natural that home automation will become increasingly prevalent over the forecast period.

As home automation technology becomes more sophisticated, cheaper and easier to use, greater interaction is anticipated between brand manufacturers in consumer electronics and consumer appliances. These companies will seek to either push their own proprietary standards in an attempt to dominate the market or seek some form of universal standard, which allows for more control and cooperation between various brands. Security concerns regarding home automation will likely be one of the biggest obstacles to growth. IoT devices are attractive to hackers because they generally have weaker login credentials, with little or no secure communication channels. As the home automation market evolves, it is likely that brand manufacturers in consumer electronics and consumer appliances will beef up their own security measures.

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