Author: Tolga DEMİR, Team Leader – Embedded Systems
Likely, most people who are interested in subjects within the scope of IoT have an awareness of its applications in Smart Home.
The hangout points that first attract those who are interested in IoT applications are: remotely controlling house lights or some home appliances (heater, air conditioners, etc.) through a mobile device, creating their restricted security system with motion sensors built into the house, remotely monitoring the house temperature and humidity.
So, after doing these, what is next? The reason for having this article is the questions raised by inferences about the future of Smart Home triggered by personal curiosity.
Is “Smart Home” the locomotive of IoT?
IoT marketing is mostly done for Smart Home applications. So, does this fact overshadow the real power and vision of IoT?
Does the end-user, who is overwhelmed with the Smart Home concept, has bought its value or will continue to buy it with the same enthusiasm?
How much will it serve the end-user comfort, to be able from its mobile phone to know the number of fruits or vegetables remaining in the refrigerator, remotely operate the coffee machine, switch on/off house lights, or remotely control curtains?
Will these IoT devices, which are bought because of curiosity not end up been rarely used?
On top of it, if all the IoT devices bought by the end-user are not manageable through a single application…
Bottlenecks of Smart Home
There are two fundamental issues to solve for the IoT concept to be convincing for the end-user.
Firstly, as mentioned above, the usage area of IoT devices is limited to a narrow ecosystem like home. For this reason, we cannot comfortably say that the user “purchases and uses these products to make its life easier”.
Another issue and a problematic situation that affect the scope of use of IoT devices are the lack of communication standards for IoT devices. Thus, each manufacturer follows its protocols.
At this point, considering smart speakers such as Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant, even though they offer a pleasant user experience, they are not central devices that manage other devices in the house unless users make do with IoT devices of the same product family only.
This situation leads to the need for several different applications on personal mobile phones to control each IoT device, which does not seem to be a highly desired option.
The critical issue for all IoT devices, including Smart Home, is the security requirements. These requirements can be considered as an additional bottleneck to the ones mentioned above, which may be the subject of another article itself.
The Future of Smart Home
It is clear today that there is a need for a common language, a standard that IoT devices could comply with to communicate with each other. The lack of a standard makes it very difficult to create an environment where different brands are compatible with each other.
Without standards, it would be possible to satisfy only those who use products of the same brand. Moreover, each manufacturer’s assertive device is different from others.
If all the devices in the home could be controlled from a single application or device, the Smart Home concept would be able to find new areas for itself. Otherwise, its progress would likely be limited.
What The Future Holds for IoT?
In 2018, there were 7 billion IoT devices worldwide. This number reached 26 billion devices as of 2019. Every second, 127 new IoT devices are connected to the web. And by the end of 2020, the total number of IoT devices is expected to reach 31 billion.
IoT has different usage areas in many fields, from Smart Home, healthcare, automotive to building automation, industry, and military.
According to Gartner’s August 2019 “IoT Endpoint Market by Segment” report, the segment that will have the highest growth rate in 2020 will be building automation with 42% growth, followed by automotive (31%) and healthcare (29%), respectively. The highest user of IoT endpoints usage is expected to be in the utilities with a total of 1.37 billion endpoints with 17% growth.
When Gartner’s future projection and Smart Home’s bottlenecks are evaluated together, it seems that IoT will find its real potential and the added value the user needs, in application areas other than the Smart Home concept.
The above-quoted facts do not mean that IoT will not be used anywhere in the Smart Home. Maybe it will evolve into something else, presumably that it will find a usage area that offers more value to the user.
There will likely be budget-friendly applications, effective at reducing the overall user expenses rather than improving comfort.
Let’s wait and see…
 “Gartner Says 5.8 Billion Enterprise and Automotive IoT Endpoints Will Be in Use in 2020” EGHAM, U.K., August 29, 2019
 “The IoT Rundown For 2020: Stats, Risks, and Solutions” Gilad David Maayan January 13, 2020