When internet connectivity first entered our homes, its only real function was to allow a desktop computer to go online for web browsing.
How times change.
Today, we expect near-instant internet connectivity from a plethora of devices, from games consoles and smart TVs to formerly offline household appliances.
The meteoric growth in web-enabled devices uploading data to a central server through WiFi routers is collectively known as the Internet of Things, or IoT.
The quantity and sophistication of home tech in 2019 would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, with an estimated 75 billion IoT devices expected to be online globally by 2025.
A quarter of us already own smart technology, and this ratio is growing rapidly as tumbling manufacturer costs and growing public awareness drive a revolution in domestic technology.
But which products are among the must-have home tech in 2019, and can today’s broadband services cope with their spiralling data volumes?
- App-controlled heating and lighting. A recent survey indicated domestic heating and lighting controls are the most sought-after examples of IoT home tech in 2019.
There’s obvious merit in adjusting home thermostats before leaving the office, or adjusting interior lights from an overseas sun lounger to suggest someone’s still home.
- Smart speakers. Second only to controllable heating and lighting in terms of desirability, voice assistants like Alexa and Siri are often used to control lights and thermostats.
They’re commonly found in punchy standalone speakers, also offering basic web functionality and streaming audio.
- Interactive security systems. Webcam-enabled doorbells trigger two-way video conversations whenever the bell rings.
This is a tangible example of home security becoming IoT compatible. Others include app-controlled cameras and alarms, biometric door locks and even pet cameras.
- Smart meters. Every month brings apocalyptic warnings about mankind’s impact on the planet, making people increasingly aware of the need to save energy as well as time.
Triple glazing and loft insulation helps, but so does reducing energy usage by identifying areas of waste. Smart meters promote bill reduction by informing and advising.
- Remote-controlled appliances. There’s a popular myth about fridges which reorder milk when stocks run low, but IoT appliances can identify issues and proactively resolve them.
A survey conducted for April’s National Home Improvement Month put smart fridges eighth on a list of desirable home tech, ahead of remote-control ovens and washing machines.
The importance of broadband
The categories listed above all rely on domestic broadband infrastructure to distribute generated data while receiving messages and updates online.
However, IoT device owners may be unaware information is being uploaded or downloaded at any given moment.
This could lead to problems on data-limited broadband contracts, underlining the importance of a policy capable of accommodating newly-connected wireless devices.
It’s also critically important to ensure broadband connections are rapid enough to support IoT communications, over and above everyday media streaming and web browsing.