IDC has predicted the development of smart home products in China will be highly influenced by security, ecosystem-based services and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) this year. The firm added that energy efficiency and entertainment are two other key features that will be added to devices.

“Smart home devices are only the medium by which the user enjoys smart home services. The real driving force for the development of the smart home will come through connecting the devices to provide users with ecosystem-based services,” explains Jin Di, Research Manager at IDC China.

IDC’s analysis also reflects no significant improvement in closing the gap between smart home products and scenario-based services last year. The firm recommends the focus this year should be on improving functionality through AI and other services.

5 key trends to watch

The firm listed 5 key trends this year in the evolution of smart home products and services:

  • Security systems: Smart monitoring systems—the main application in smart homes—use identity recognition, trajectory recognition, environmental judgment and compensation recognition but are confused by environmental changes. IDC predicted that AI-based image recognition technology will enable correct real-time image interpretation.

In a move to boost IoT security, Infineon recently partnered with Chinese companies and government to establish the "< href="http://www.eetasia.com/news/article/eye-on-china-infineon-ropes-vendors-for-iot-security" title="Eye on China, Infineon ropes vendors for IoT security">Open Laboratory for Smart Home Interconnection Security" in Beijing.

  • Energy efficiency: Efforts to reduce energy consumption are moving beyond basic energy saving. Products are now working more efficiently while still meeting user expectations and offering more interactive functions.

  • Personalised services: Smart home products have begun using AI self-learning technology to improve the user experience.

  • Smart entertainment: New products are focusing on adding a lot more entertainment functions to give consumer the comfort and flexibility to control multiple smart entertainment devices through a single device.

  • Open smart eco-systems: Improving compatibility among various smart home products is the foundation for connectivity and open platforms key to expanding smart home ecosystems, IDC said. While companies Amazon and Google are working towards open smart ecosystem platforms but many devices still cannot connect with multiple platforms. Jin Di called for enterprises to create devices that connect with other products, gather data from diverse sources, and harness the power of AI.

IDC's call for open systems and compatibility is not something new. To wit, the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) and the AllSeen Alliance--two groups with competing application frameworks for the consumer IoT--<a href="http://www.eetasia.com/news/article/iot-consumer-groups-blend-app-frameworks" title"IoT consumer groups blend app frameworks">agreed late last year to merge their approaches. It's a step towards a common open-source framework to provide the most viable alternative to smart home environments from Apple and Google.