Simply put, the term “smart home” refers to the idea that devices within a home can all be connected not only to each other but also to the internet, thus allowing homeowners to control them through central interfaces. And this doesn’t simply include computers, tablets and the like: it gets truly useful when applied to appliances and other home electronics. A few years ago, when internet-connected fridges came onto the market, they were the butt of jokes. Now it seems they’re anything but.
According to Jaryd Raizon from local smart solutions company Simpletech, most people who come to them are aware of the concept of the smart home but not the full potential of the technology. “I would say that about 70% of our customers approach us knowing that technology can help them to achieve a more secure, energy-efficient and convenient home,” he says, “but they rely on us to paint the picture for them.” According to Jaryd, more advanced systems are increasingly taking off in luxury residential homes, while in the mass market, players such as Altech’s Node device dominate.
Smart home but not the full potential
While the truly smart home may be in its infancy in South Africa, the growth internationally has been significant. Current projections by Juniper Research estimate a total global market value of $71bn by 2018. This is mostly in the entertainment category, but peripheral devices invariably follow. With this in mind, the growth in South Africa is inevitable. How local developers find solutions geared specifically for this market and the South African lifestyle, however, will be key.
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Words: Chris Reid