In 2017, the Smart Home gained a ton of traction, with just about every company out there putting out a smart home product. Whether that was a smart plug, a smart light, or even a camera, just about everyone has a product in the space now. And that is only going to continue. But for 2018, two of the big trends are going to be voice control, and better routers – more specifically, Mesh WiFi Routers. Voice control arguably was a big deal in 2017, but it'll become even larger in the new year, especially once Apple get's its Homepod out onto the market, and now that both Google and Amazon are allowing third-parties to make speakers and products with their personal assistants.
While voice control isn't needed for the smart home, it is a nice feature to have. Especially since most people already have at least one of these personal assistants in their home. This year, Google Assistant gained a ton of functionality and compatibility with smart home products, and that is only going to continue in the new year. Amazon Alexa did also gain some compatibility, but it was mostly Google Assistant catching up. However, both platforms did add support for routines. Allowing you to set a routine and have the assistant do things for you without you asking it to. For example, in the morning, Alexa could be programmed to turn on the lights, start your coffee and more. So you are able to wake up and have your coffee in the morning, without thinking about it.
Right now, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are dominating the voice control space for Smart Home. Don't expect that to be the case in 2018. While Apple's Siri and Homekit are already available, and you do actually have voice control from your iPhone, iPad or Mac, with the release of the Homepod, it should become more mainstream. Cortana may not become as mainstream as Homekit and Siri from Apple, but expect that to also improve in 2018. Since Microsoft has Cortana on most laptops these days, and it is available on both iOS and Android (not to mention there is a Cortana speaker in the Harman Kardon Invoke, already available), it's only a matter of time before it catches up with the competition.
Not only will voice control be more widespread, but it will also get easier to use. Right now, it's pretty easy. You can say "OK Google, turn off the lights" and it'll turn off all of your connected lights. But when you get more granular and use different lights from different companies, it does sometimes have issues determining which light it should turn off. These personal assistants will also get better at understanding different commands, for instance when you don't say "turn on the lights" but say "living room lights" and it'll understand what you mean. So that users aren't forced to remember a specific command to get the lights turned on or off.
Mesh Wi-Fi Networks
Upgrading your router is something most people steer clear of doing, unless they absolutely need to do it. But with smart home products taking over these days, it's important to upgrade your router and move to a mesh WiFi option. A Mesh WiFi system has become pretty popular in the past year or so, and that's mostly due to the smart home industry gaining momentum. You see with a mesh WiFi system, the network is able to fully support tons of products being connected at the same time, intelligently moving them to the proper band (some work on 2.4GHz and some work better on 5GHz), and giving them just enough WiFi to keep them working fine without taking speed away from your laptop or other computers on the network.
Mesh WiFi has other advantages other than just being able to support multiple devices without experiencing slower speeds. Mesh WiFi also gives you the ability to expand your network, and blanket your home (or office) with WiFi coverage. Instead of having that one corner in the house where there's no WiFi available. On top of that, these are modular. While most come in a three-pack, there are also singles available so you are able to pick up a pack of three and get started, but then pick up another one and add to your network if you need a bit more coverage (though, most 3-packs do cover around 4,500 square-feet, so you likely don't need any more coverage).
The extended coverage that Mesh WiFi provides is great for smartphones, laptops and such, but it also works well with smart home products, specifically security cameras. Imagine you have a security camera outside, maybe showing your porch, or keeping an eye on your driveway. If you are having coverage issues with your WiFi network, you might not be able to get that camera connected. But with a Mesh WiFi network, you'll have WiFi coverage outside (in most cases, unless your home is very large – over 4,500 square feet), so that camera can connect easily.
While voice control is going to improve, and that is a given considering machine learning and artificial intelligence go hand in hand here, the bigger trend for 2018 is going to be Mesh WiFi systems. Now there are already a ton on the market, with plenty of great options, but there's also plenty more coming in 2018 (most likely). And it's going to help provide better, more stable and faster WiFi, which is something everyone will love.