It seems as though home automation, better known as “smart home technology,” is cropping up everywhere. Popular home tech devices allow homeowners to control an increasing number of variables in their environment to optimize health and overall comfort.
Considering that a pandemic has left many of us continuing to hunker down at home, that’s a good thing. You may be looking for a way to work out at home or clean your kitchen without having to do the work yourself. Whatever your need or want, there is a seemingly endless array of smart home solutions to satisfy it.
Voice assistants and Bluetooth speakers were all the rage a few years ago. Since then, home automation technology has evolved considerably. Consumers can now purchase a wide variety of devices to transform their living spaces. Many already have.
According to MediaPost, 69% of U.S. households own at least one smart device. In fact, a whopping 22 million homes in the U.S. own several smart home devices.
2021 is expected to be another big year for smart home services. As the pandemic grinds on, consumer demand is predictably skyrocketing. With so many options flooding the market, how can you decide which device is right for you? Here are five trends you’ll see gaining steam throughout 2021:
1. Domestic Robots
Robots in the home? Absolutely. Devices such as robotic vacuums and electronic thermostats have been around for years. Now, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, sales of these home devices will continue to surge in 2021.
It’s not hard to figure out why. Domestic robots make day-to-day tasks easy. Instead of having to vacuum after a long day, homeowners can program a Roomba to clean floors while they relax. Want to lower the temperature in your house without walking downstairs? Nest thermostats can control heating and cooling with a voice command.
While 2021 probably won’t see the widespread introduction of robotic butlers in the home, you’ll definitely be seeing more labor-saving tech. Increased interest in these products is encouraging competition, which, in turn, is driving prices down. Not only will these devices be popular, but they’re also likely to become more affordable.
2. Wearable Technology
Chances are, you or someone you know wears a tech device. Whether it’s an Apple Watch, FitBit, or AirPods, wearable technology is everywhere. While many of these devices provide convenience on the go, some wearables also offer benefits when you’re at home.
For example, Cove is a wearable that prevents stress, whether that’s from dealing with the kids or working at home. The device sends gentle vibrations behind the ear, targeting the part of the brain that calms emotions.
Another health-conscious wearable is Innova, an FDA-approved wearable that uses neuromuscular electrical stimulation to exercise the pelvic floor. It enables people suffering urinary incontinence or bladder weakness to build up strength automatically.
In 2021, expect to see a flood of wearable tech products that offer health benefits to the user wherever they are. Even if that’s just sitting on the couch.
3. In-Home Healthcare
If there’s one thing 2020 taught us, it’s how much we can accomplish using technology. The COVID-19 pandemic and enforced social distancing greatly limited the ability of medical professionals to see patients in person. But that didn’t stop people from needing to stay healthy.
Even now, as coronavirus cases drop and restrictions ease, people are avoiding the doctor’s office. People avoided doctor visits in 2020 to slow the potential spread of the virus. Now, in the wake of job loss and work slowdowns, they’re avoiding the doctor’s office because they can’t afford to go.
For those experiencing financial setbacks, paying deductibles doesn’t make sense when they need to cover the mortgage payment. As a result, we can expect to see the introduction of even more inexpensive healthcare products that can be used at home.
Home EKG monitors, teeth-whitening devices, portable gluten testers, and other technologies previously limited to professionals are already widely available. As more people monitor their health at home to avoid both social contact and medical costs, these devices will grow in popularity.
4. Fitness Technology
The world spent most of 2020 stuck at home. Instead of going to the gym to work out, many were forced to bring the gym to them. It’s no wonder, then, that fitness tech had a record-breaking year. That momentum is only expected to grow as gyms (and gym goers) adjust to “the new normal.”
Technologically advanced home gym equipment such as Peloton and NordicTrack have been getting a lot of media attention. Fitness company JAXJOX is also popular. It manufactures a “smart” product called KettlebellConnect, which allows users to lock on added weight quickly.
Sales of smart fitness equipment were impressive, but this success was easily bested by a stampede to fitness apps. According to the World Economic Forum, downloads of fitness apps increased by nearly 50% in the first six months of 2020. Fiit App, Alo Moves, and many more offer users workout classes they can try at home. Look for such apps to attract more sales in 2021.
5. Faster Home Networks
All these smart home devices bring with them a need for increased home network speed. The two players likely to offer a serious upgrade are 5G and Wi-Fi 6. These game-changing technologies are engineered to support a home with many devices.
5G tech is advertised as having download speeds 100 times faster than 4G. This means it can connect to more devices and facilitate a faster rate of data upload/download. In 2020, Verizon stated that half of the U.S. would have access to 5G by the end of that year. Look for that rollout to continue in 2021 as customer demand goes up.
Late last year, the latest generation of Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi 6) began its rollout. Wi-Fi 6 technology is expected to introduce more than 50 updated features from the previous generation. These networks will offer more available bandwidth per user, be able to handle different data streams, and provide better all-around performance.
Today more than ever, your home is the place you spend most of your time. Why not make it as comfortable as possible? The home tech trends above are just a few of the many solutions available today. As technology evolves and demand grows, expect to see even more tech devices specifically targeting the home.