Written by IEEE | November 5, 2015

In a Web Summit panel featuring George Yianni (Philips), Bracken Darrell (Logitech) and Mike Harris (Zonoff), moderated by Andy O’Donoghue (TV3: The Gadget Buzz), industry experts explored the smart home industry, evaluating trends and predicting the future of the IoT.

All panelists agreed that one of the biggest issues that the smart home industry faces is awareness. The breadth of devices across the IoT ecosystem offer great opportunity, and the cost no longer prices them out as a “luxury” good, however, there’s still room for improvement to get consumers to take the leap from smart lightbulbs to home autonomy.

O’Donoghue posed many strong questions to the panel, with the most popular one being about the transition of present-day smart homes into future “caring” smart homes. Essentially, can we program and optimize our homes in such a way that technology actually enhances quality of life and safety.

As devices continue to collect data, all panelists said that a more caring smart home is not impossible. There’s an element of education, however, as Yianni and other panelists pointed out that lighting is the most popular solution, and consumers need to understand the power behind this gateway gadget. Smart lighting has made a significant impact on home security and safety, as it can be used in a variety of ways to help alert homeowners to issues like fires.

In addition to consumer education and awareness, the other significant issue that panelists conferred on was security. Like many other talks at Web Summit, security was pinpointed as a factor that has the potential of fully halting an industry’s growth. The reality is, all products have the potential to have a security error as the IoT ecosystem evolves, but manufacturers take security and privacy seriously. The key, as the panelists explained was to emphasize the benefits to life that connected homes have the potential to offer, as data being collected by smart home devices is less and less personal.

All of the experts agreed that the industry is moving away from devices and forced actions, with interfaces likely becoming more “invisible” over time. Ultimately, there will always be an interface available for products in the IoT to offer the consumer the peace of mind in knowing full, direct device control is an option if necessary.

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