5G, with high bandwidth, low latency and massive connectivity, along with advanced computing and AI capabilities, is driving a transition to a world where everything is intelligently connected. In addition, home networks, reaching individual consumers, continue to move from copper to fiber, from Wi-Fi 5 to Wi-Fi 6 / Wi-Fi Mesh and from 100 Mbps to Gigabit, enabling high-speed networks everywhere. . Based on a deep integration of AI and IoT technologies, smart homes that once appeared in sci-fi movies have gradually become available to everyday users. Nowadays, the connection and functioning experiences of family members have been dramatically improved, affecting audiovisual entertainment, telecommuting, distance education and healthcare, and ultimately changing human lifestyles.
- Network upgrade lays a solid foundation for connected home devices
In recent years, home networks have been upgraded in many ways, from copper to fiber, from fiber to the home (FTTH) to fiber to the room (FTTR), from 100 Mbps to Gigabit access bandwidth, greatly improving the user experience. Currently, three major operators in China offer access speeds of at least 100 Mbps to nearly 500 million broadband users, and access speeds of at least 1 Gbps to over 25 million users. If combined with Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi Mesh, it is possible to achieve consistent coverage of the whole house from high-speed wireless networks. Users can operate various mobile devices with reliable access performance anywhere in the home and enjoy modern life with connected home devices.
IoT communication protocols, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, and NB-IoT, have also gained momentum. They can be applied to different perception and control scenarios, allowing smart home devices to directly or indirectly connect, transmit information, and control data when in use. Network-side connection issues are resolved, laying a solid foundation for extended access, centralized control and collaborative operation of home devices.
- AI technologies are enabling more user-friendly devices.
Backed by whole-home network coverage, AI voice technology plays an important role in smart home control. Technologies such as far-field voice, voice fingerprint recognition, echo cancellation and multi-turn dialogue interaction are becoming increasingly mature, leading to the evolution of traditional keys, touch screen, towards voice control, and making the interaction more natural.
Upgrading to smart home allows people to control connected home devices through voice commands, which will change people’s habits and create amazing hands-free experience. The next step is to implement a distributed voice network throughout the house, enabling voice control and interaction of all connected devices in a house. For example, a user can remotely control smart home devices in the bedroom from another room, thereby achieving natural voice interaction anywhere in the house.
In addition, facial recognition, gesture recognition, environmental perception and other deep intelligences can meet the control needs for more personalized and specific scenarios. AI will become the central element of the smart home. Powered by big data and cloud computing, future home devices are expected to truly engage in active learning and decision making, and become more alive.
- A smart home will have more smart devices, rather than just one acting as a control center.
The previous smart home usually uses a smart device as the control center. Only this device has the computing capacity, able to process the user’s commands and send them to other terminals. For example, a smartphone can control various home terminals linked to it through applications. However, these home terminals must adopt standards, connection protocols and intelligent management platforms in a unified way. Otherwise, each device requires a different app resulting in poor user experience.
As networks and computing capabilities expand, this model of smart home compatible with a single device is gradually evolving. In addition to traditional control centers such as smart phones, televisions, smart speakers and control panels, household appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners or even kitchen hoods are equipped with touch screens to deliver IT capabilities. In a future smart home, there will be more and more smart devices with perception and processing capabilities. Interconnected with each other, these devices will be capable of active learning and decision-making, while functioning autonomously. Users will be able to interact with the smart home environment through visual, auditory and tactile aspects, enjoying a more intuitive display of data and better control and interactive experience. Home appliances will become intelligent household helpers that can adapt to changing surroundings and give personalized feedback based on user behaviors.
- The predictable future of smart homes
The future smart home will provide ultimate convenience, providing a seamless and natural interactive and control experience. Imagine a morning in your AI-enabled smart home. Instead of a loud alarm to wake you up, the curtains slowly open and the lights come on when the music starts playing. A smart speaker informs you of local weather and your schedule. A smart watch tracks your sleep quality and health data. A smart thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature and humidity according to your preferences. A smart wardrobe gives you suggestions on what to wear today depending on the weather. In your kitchen, a smart coffee maker starts brewing your favorite beverage, and a smart fridge advises you on cooking methods based on the type of food stored. When you leave the house, your smart home system turns everything off, but starts cleaning with a robot vacuum. By allowing the whole house to be automated, a smart home provides ease and convenience for the daily activities of the home, making your life easier and better.
The smart home, while not yet essential, is more of a quality lifestyle than just technology. As the underlying technologies develop, industry standards continue to improve, and consumer habits gradually form, I believe an era of true smart homes will come soon. With the increasing development of mobile networks, cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT) and AI technologies, the integration of connectivity and computing capacity strengthens various industries.