CONNECTIVITY and smart devices are almost a ubiquity in modern day life. As technology continues to advance, more and more gadgets and appliances will be operated independent of human intervention.
Your lights and air-conditioner can be turned on before you arrive home and your refrigerator could make orders and have your produce delivered to you when your stock is running low.
In recent years, a slew of tech startups and household appliances companies have been developing products, systems and platforms to cater to the rising demand for smart homes.
Proponents describe smart homes as a home that “reacts around you and learns about you”. And with increasing connectivity, these patterns and preferences are not contained only within the four walls of your house. They could be communicated across platforms and applied to other properties like a hotel or a short-stay rental, for example.
Smart homes are touted as the way to go as more companies introduce new and exciting products that could enrich our daily lives in the near future.
Earlier this year, research firm Statista notes that the smart home market in Malaysia is expected to show an annual growth rate of 25.5% till 2023.
According to Statista, revenue in the Malaysian smart home market will amount to US$105mil (RM436mil) in 2019 and is expected to hit market volume of US$260mil by 2023.
The research firm adds that household penetration is 4.1% in 2019 and is expected to hit 12.6% by 2023 – while average revenue per installed smart home now amounts to US$82.57.
Statista notes that the top five smart home markets are the US (US$27.7bil), China (US$12.9bil), Japan (US$4.2bil), Germany (US$4bil) and the UK (US$3.9bil). The US also has the highest penetration rate at 33.2%, followed by Norway (28.5%) and the Netherlands (27.3%).
The scope of the report covers the sale of networked devices and related services that enable home automation for private end-users (B2C). The devices – connected directly or indirectly via a gateway to the Internet – mainly control, monitor and regulate functions in the house.
“The remote control and monitoring of individual devices and, if applicable, their direct communication with one another (Internet of Things) is an essential component of intelligent home automation.
“Therefore, services that are necessary for the maintenance or control of the household network are also considered for the report – for example, subscription fees for control apps or external monitoring services,” explains Statista.
Smart-home solutions can roughly be divided into two groups: integrated smart home and stand-alone smart home.
An integrated smart home is a single occupant home or household in multi-unit dwellings that are equipped with a central control unit (gateway) connected to the Internet and from which a large number of networked devices can be linked to one another. This group of smart homes uses devices from at least two market segments.
The stand-alone smart home is an isolated application that does not necessarily use a central control unit, serves a single purpose and can be directly controlled (via a router) from a smart device. Included are all smart homes that use devices from only one segment.
InHome Engineering Works Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Mazlan Sabli notes that the local market has yet to appreciate the features of a smart home.
“It is still a small market here. In the US, it is already considered quite a lifestyle,” he says.
InHome recently launched its retractable glass roof which has automated rain sensors, among its other features. This enables the glass roof to automatically extend when it starts raining.
“So you don’t have to worry about your clothes that are hanging out to dry while you are out of the house,” he says.
Smart products are noted for their convenience, but not many are willing to fork out the extra cost needed to install them. However, with the cost of technology coming down, Mazlan believes take up could improve.
“It takes time.”
According to a report published by MarketsandMarkets, the global smart home market is expected to grow from US$76.6bil in 2018 to US$151.4bil by 2024, at a CAGR of 12.02%.
The growth will be driven by many factors, such as a large base of Internet users and rapid adoption of smart devices, increased public awareness of fitness and healthy lifestyles owing to the high disposable income in developing countries, high importance of home monitoring from remote locations, rise in the need for energy-saving and low carbon emission solutions, cost reduction measures enabled by smart homes, rapid proliferation of smartphones and smart gadgets, existence of various market players focusing on expanding their smart home product portfolios, and widespread concern about safety, security, and convenience.