January is a stay-in kind of month, if ever there was one. And spending so much time indoors, trying not to eat/drink/spend any money, got us to thinking: what do we actually want from the smart home in 2017?
We're often very vocal about what we want to see next and what we think needs fixing, improving or downright overhauling in wearable tech. Now, it's the smart home's turn.
Read this: 50 gamechangers for 2017
According to our big Wareable 50 list, we can expect to see Project Soli gestures, new Nest hardware, the rise of the wellness smart home linked to the connected driver, AI and – one we've already seen out in force at CES – Alexa everywhere. Read on to find out what we'd add to that list in a perfect world.
And do take to the comments to tell us what you'd like to see this year, whether it's innovations, new gadgets, apps or partnerships.
Michael Sawh – Editor
My home is undeniably the least smart of all in the Wareable team. I don't have a Nest or Hive thermostat controlling my heating or a set of Philips Hue lightbulbs to set the mood in my bedroom. I've only just got my Amazon Echo set up.
What I'd really like to see happen in the short term is for other rooms to get smarter. The living room is regarded as the hub of the smart home, but I'd love to see the bathroom get more connected. Now I'm not talking about high-tech toilets here, but I love the idea of a smart mirror that can replace my smart scales – or a mirror that can show me work reminders or weather info while I'm brushing my teeth.
The Moen smart shower, which was shown off at CES 2017, sounds seriously gimmicky, but I can warm to the idea of being able to jump straight into a hot shower as soon I can convince myself to get out of bed. These innovations would save time and help me get into the right mood at a time of the day when it's a real struggle.
Sophie Charara – Features editor
I'm excited about some of the work coming out of MIT, specifically around how to locate the human body in the home. Why is that useful? Because then your smart fridge or lights or coffee machine will know when you're in a certain room, standing right in front of the appliance or too far away for, example voice or other interactions. It's coming with Wi-Fi sensing that can see through walls, maybe not in 2017 but hopefully sooner rather than later.
More specifically, and in the shorter term, I'd like to see: more affordable, connected systems and gadgets designed for renters like me who don't own their home and well, more badass, voice activated robot vacs.
We don't have central heating in my flat so I'm not looking for a smart thermostat and I live on the third floor in a secure building so smart security cams aren't a priority either. I'm not at a very practical stage of my life; smart shed padlocks are a way off.
Home smart home
Basically, the dream – as ever – is to get to the stage where context-learning AI and computer vision tech can look after me and my manchild flatmate. Tell us when food in the fridge needs throwing out, remind us when the plumber/cleaner/someone's parents are coming, send the lights and speakers into alarm meltdown when it really is the last minute I can leave to get to the office on time, based on the tube or buses. Just real simple stuff.
Paul Lamkin – Editor in chief
Out of all of team Wareable I'm probably the one who has embraced the smart home revolution the most. I've got a LOT of smart home tech in my house but, let's face it, my house itself is dumb as fuck. In 2016 we more or less built our house from scratch but the materials, fixtures and fittings aren't exactly cutting edge. Smart building materials don't really exist yet. Where are the windows and mirrors that Corning made me excited about in its A Day Made Of Glass promo back in 2011? Sure, bathroom mirrors with displays are a thing but they are clunky and crap – certainly not the seamless experience Corning's video promised.
And why doesn't my garage let me plug in my electric car to power the house with the energy its motion has created and stored up? I've seen this sort of thing demoed (usually by Japanese companies) at various tradeshows over the last few years but I'm still waiting for it to go mainstream. And how's about solar-panel equipped tiles for my roof? Okay, so Elon Musk has that one sorted – but you get my point.
I want my house itself to be smarter.
Hugh Langley – US editor
Let's untangle things first, shall we?
I'm one of the smart home's biggest champions right now, but I can't help but feel it's still a bit… messy. At Wareable we write about this stuff for a living, which means our threshold for nonsense tends to be a little higher than the average person, but when technology doesn't work seamlessly it can be a real turn-off.
When it comes to the smart home especially, everything needs to be working as effortlessly as possible. If the thermostat doesn't talk to the window controls, and the security camera doesn't speak to the central alarm system, then what's the point of any of this? The more convoluted it becomes, the dumber the smart home actually gets.
So in 2017 I'd like to see more devices talking to one another, fewer closed systems, and generally just more ease of use, meaning people can kit out their homes without worrying whether it's going to make their lives easier or more complicated.
What's on your smart home wish list for 2017? Let us know in the comments.