The “Internet of Things” and “smart home” are both phrases that few had encountered at the beginning of 2015.
But heading into CES 2016, the agenda-setting technology convention in Las Vegas, both phrases are much more widely recognised – aided by a greater range of available products.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the idea of all devices being connected to the internet, and then being able to communicate with each other – with central control in the hands of a person’s smartphone.
For example, a kettle automatically turns on when an alarm goes off in the morning, while at the same time a smart thermostat switches on the hot water for the shower. Light bulbs, speakers, plug sockets and door sensors are also part of the smart home network.
Smart device giant Samsung is now at the centre of this trend, having purchased IoT company SmartThings in 2014.
That line of products has since been refreshed and launched with the added Samsung fanfare, bringing a range of sensors and cameras for the home to a wider audience.
Combined with the range of smart appliances that Samsung already produces, including fridges and washing machines that can be linked to a smartphone, the Korean firm is now placed to offer products to fill an entire smart home.
Fellow technology giant LG is also reportedly preparing a range of smart home products, including a robotic vacuum cleaner and a smart stove.
Given that many of the big brands – including both Apple and Samsung – that are embracing the Internet of Things have made their platforms open to developers, meaning any company can build products that work with this software, dozens of start-ups are likely to join the hundreds of other manufacturers building products that will work on Samsung or Apple’s platforms.
This means that a large percentage of the show floor at CES, if not all of it, will be filled with companies calling themselves “Internet of Things ready”, with products to back up their claims.