Home automation or smart home refers to the automatic and electronic control of household features, activity, security, and appliances via the internet to make life more convenient, secure, and even spend less on household bills. Each device has sensors and is connected through WiFi, so people can manage them from their smartphone or tablet even if you are far away. It is a large part of the IoT (Internet of Things) industry.
What can a smart home do?
In a smart home the lighting, air conditioning (and overall temperature), blinds, air quality, leak detection (like gas), and smoke, doorbells, door locks, etc. can be monitored and controlled over the internet or automatically at a certain time. There are various categories like gardening and of course, appliances can be controlled as well to make coffee at a certain time, etc.
Where is the business opportunity
There are two ways to look at this business, both the business model and the category. There is opportunity in hardware, software, setup, etc. but also in the niche, in South Africa (58 murders, 116 rapes, and innumerable burglaries a day) security is a huge business. Smart alarm systems, doorbell alerts, CCTV, gates, doors, and locks. You can set up motion detection on people’s perimeter to notify their smartphone of any intrusions so they don’t wake up to a knife to their throat or a gun to their head at their bedside.
This industry will grow in the future but I suspect not all aspects of it will go mainstream, some will only be implemented in really fancy houses or if there is a real necessity, for example, a smart blind or curtain engine is not that expensive but does a normal home need it? Probably not. But if you have a high window that you sometimes want the light to come through and at other times want to be covered then it makes sense. Mainstream, besides security, what we are going to see become popular is:
Ways to save electricity, Eskom is out of control and their over-inflation price increases in a flatlining economy will see people try to use home automation to try to decrease their energy costs.
Water saving, another cost spiraling out of control due to corrupt and incompetent municipalities, timed irrigation/sprinklers is old technology and no need if there was rain. Control it via an app.
The business market
Now when we think smart home, we think of the home, yes there is building automation as well but there is also an opportunity to adapt some of these tools for the business market, maybe like farms where the farmer is far away from the house and can be notified of any intruders.