2017 was a whirlwind of technological advances, dramatically shifting the way we interact with technology in our day-to-day. For the smart home, the year has brought a series of evolutions resulting in smarter, stronger, and more useful devices. That means more processes, functions and systems can be automated within your home, streamlining and often simplifying your life. 2018 promises to be the year of higher quality products, and higher quality experiences.

Speaking Up

Long-time RSI team member, Skip White, believes 2018 will be a big year for what he calls “plug and play” technologies, meaning integrations that don’t require installment but do require professional integration to be used with your other smart tech systems. 2017 was a year of interaction, with the emergence of more sophisticated voice command programs like Siri, Alexa and Echo. This trend shows no signs of wavering in the new year, and estimates suggest that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches and around 30 percent will involve no screen whatsoever. As a result, all kinds of home technology companies are integrating the likes of Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant with their products.

Form vs. Function: Design-Driven Upgrades

Traditionally, smart home technologies have been designed with function taking precedence over form. More recently, we’ve seen an inclination toward creating products that not only perform well but integrate beautifully into home design. RSI’s Systems Consultant Luke Vandewark has seen an upward trend in homeowners and business owners alike looking for tech integrations that are more stylish, and companies are taking note.

New Paradigm: Lutron Palladiom

Lutron’s recently released Palladiom line of automated shades have shattered the stereotype of automated window coverings. Previously, automated shades have been installed into recessed pockets or facia that conceal the motor and roller. However, due to demand for more contemporary applications, the Palladiom line of automated shades are specifically designed to be an exposed, elegant shade with sleek hardware and beautiful fabrics.

Vanishing Screens

Similarly, Samsung has unveiled a selection of framed televisions, designed to look like framed pictures rather than a bulky mounted TV. These sets can be easily disguised when not in use, making them an accessory instead of an obstacle. The Samsung interface also includes an extensive library of static image options, and gives users the option to purchase more imagery or upload their own. The televisions can be matted on a selection of Samsung-designed color options, ensuring that your set will match your interiors.

Scene-Based Living

One of home technology’s more sought after systems enhance what Vandewark refers to as “scene-based living.” These home technology upgrades create a “scene” through specially designed lighting, audio and visual systems. Imagine waking up and pressing a button. The morning news turns on, climate controls adjust to 72 degrees, lights slowly brighten, the shades open, and your security system disarms so you can open the window and let in some fresh air. Homeowners can create a customized home technology experience. In the kitchen, a homeowner can have bright lighting and upbeat jazz music for dinner prep, while dim lighting and quiet classical play in the home office. Lighting, climate, audio/video, home theater, security, networks – Smart Home automation allows you to control all of these systems with the press of a single button using your smartphone, tablet or remote control.

The Need for Bigger, Better Bandwidth

Advances in automation are exciting, but often homeowners forget about installing a robust WiFi system to keep everything running in top form. With the emergence of more advanced wireless home tech, users need stronger and more supportive networks. Your big-box home modem can’t support all home tech connections. Commercial-grade WiFi networks in both residential and commercial applications are necessary for all systems to operate at their highest capacity. Hire an integration company to do the work for you. This is not something an electrician or DIY enthusiast can take care of.

2018 Will Be the Year Of…

Vandewark and White both foresee an explosive upward trend in the use of home technology. While many tech trends fizzle over time, evolutions in the home automation industry promise to transform the way users interact with their homes. For that reason, Residential Systems Inc believes that home automation mega-trends will define 2018 and beyond with the continual creation of bigger, better, and smarter technologies.