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12 Influential Smart Home Inventions, and Why They Matter

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Being influential doesn’t always translate to direct commercial success.

This pattern is the most visible in the music industry, in which many trendsetting bands often fail to achieve mainstream popularity. Artists like the Dead Kennedys, Kraftwerk, and Captain Beefheart all pioneered genres, but this translated to limited amounts of fame and fortune.

Such a paradigm can also be seen in technology, where it’s simply not possible for every new product to become the next iPhone. Like music, some tech products are well before their time, while others serve as important sources of inspiration before they ultimately fizzle out.

Influential Smart Home Inventions

Today’s infographic from The Zebra looks at the smart home inventions helping to define the future of the nascent home IoT market.

The devices listed below may not all be massive commercial successes like the Google Nest, but many of them will be cited as influences in helping shape the smart home.

12 Influential Smart Home Inventions

The above smart home inventions range from inactive projects like the Jibo social robot, which ran through its $73 million of funding, to more commercially successful and widely available products like the Sonos smart speaker and the Google Nest smart thermostat.

While they’ve had differing levels of adoption and success, all of the above products are expected to be major influences on the smart home market going forward.

Smart Influence

To see why these products are so interesting, let’s take a deeper look into some key spaces:

1. Utilities

Before smart technology, most home utilities were controlled inefficiently and crudely.

However, devices like tado° and Nest have shown that temperatures should be optimized based on the habits of the people that occupy the home, rather than via manual controls. To accomplish this optimization, tado° adjusts air conditioning or heating based on how close a user is to returning home, while Nest programs itself based on the users’ schedule.

Theoretically, these both allow for significant savings on energy bills, and future smart home inventions will likely follow in similar footsteps.

2. Security

In the past, if you were gone for a long time, your best option may have been to have friends, family, or neighbors check up on the property.

In the smart home era, security is quickly becoming a priority so that keeping an eye on your property can be easier, safer, and more effective. App-controlled smart locks like August can grant access to visitors via “virtual keys”, while Cocoon senses disturbances in the home and alerts users via smartphone.

3. Health and Entertainment

You do most of your living at home, and the smart home aims to make this experience healthier, while also making it convenient and pleasurable.

Smart home inventions such as Awair will allow you to monitor and analyze your home’s air quality, while detecting harmful allergens and irritants in real-time.

On the entertainment front, it’s worth noting that one of the most influential devices in this category — the Jibo social robot ⁠— has gone belly up. Despite this, it is commonly speculated that the robot was well before its time, and there are now a variety of companies working on similar ways to bring AI and robotics to the home.

The Future of the Smart Home

In the next decade, the smart home is expected to grow even more autonomous.

New products will be responding to trends pioneered by many of the above products, such as voice control, homeowner data sharing, appliance connectivity, AI integration, sophisticated security systems, and smart kitchen devices.

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Charting the Next Generation of Internet

In this graphic, Visual Capitalist has partnered with MSCI to explore the potential of satellite internet as the next generation of internet innovation.

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Teaser image of a bubble chart showing the large addressable market of satellite internet.

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The following content is sponsored by MSCI

Could Tomorrow’s Internet be Streamed from Space?

In 2023, 2.6 billion people could not access the internet. Today, companies worldwide are looking to innovative technology to ensure more people are online at the speed of today’s technology. 

Could satellite internet provide the solution?  

In collaboration with MSCI, we embarked on a journey to explore whether tomorrow’s internet could be streamed from space. 

Satellite Internet’s Potential Customer Base

Millions of people live in rural communities or mobile homes, and many spend much of their lives at sea or have no fixed abode. So, they cannot access the internet simply because the technology is unavailable. 

Satellite internet gives these communities access to the internet without requiring a fixed location. Consequently, the volume of people who could get online using satellite internet is significant:

AreaPotential Subscribers
Households Without Internet Access600,000,000
RVs 11,000,000
Recreational Boats8,500,000
Ships100,000
Commercial Aircraft25,000

Advances in Satellite Technology

Satellite internet is not a new concept. However, it has only recently been that roadblocks around cost and long turnaround times have been overcome.

NASA’s space shuttle, until it was retired in 2011, was the only reusable means of transporting crew and cargo into orbit. It cost over $1.5 billion and took an average of 252 days to launch and refurbish. 

In stark contrast, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 can now launch objects into orbit and maintain them at a fraction of the time and cost, less than 1% of the space shuttle’s cost.

Average Rocket Turnaround TimeAverage Launch/Refurbishment Cost
Falcon 9*21 days< $1,000,000
Space Shuttle252 days$1,500,000,000 (approximately)

Satellites are now deployed 300 miles in low Earth orbit (LEO) rather than 22,000 miles above Earth in Geostationary Orbit (GEO), previously the typical satellite deployment altitude.

What this means for the consumer is that satellite internet streamed from LEO has a latency of 40 ms, which is an optimal internet connection. Especially when compared to the 700 ms stream latency experienced with satellite internet streamed from GEO. 

What Would it Take to Build a Satellite Internet?

SpaceX, the private company that operates Starlink, currently has 4,500 satellites. However, the company believes it will require 10 times this number to provide comprehensive satellite internet coverage.

Charting the number of active satellites reveals that, despite the increasing number of active satellites, many more must be launched to create a comprehensive satellite internet. 

YearNumber of Active Satellites
20226,905
20214,800
20203,256
20192,272
20182,027
20171,778
20161,462
20151,364
20141,262
20131,187

Next-Generation Internet Innovation

Innovation is at the heart of the internet’s next generation, and the MSCI Next Generation Innovation Index exposes investors to companies that can take advantage of potentially disruptive technologies like satellite internet. 

You can gain exposure to companies advancing access to the internet with four indexes: 

  • MSCI ACWI IMI Next Generation Internet Innovation Index
  • MSCI World IMI Next Generation Internet Innovation 30 Index
  • MSCI China All Shares IMI Next Generation Internet Innovation Index
  • MSCI China A Onshore IMI Next Generation Internet Innovation Index

MSCI thematic indexes are objective, rules-based, and regularly updated to focus on specific emerging trends that could evolve.

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Click here to explore the MSCI thematic indexes

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