Connected homes, connected bodies

Consumers are embracing home automation and mobile, wearable devices

By Stephen V. Smith, Editor

For decades, society has imagined what the future will look like through movies, television, comic books and novels. These images almost always portray people interacting with technology to communicate with one another and control everyday tasks.

In the past five years, that future has moved much closer to reality, thanks to the convergence of several factors:

  1. Tech companies are creating devices that are more affordable and easier to use.
  2. Consumer demand for such technology is increasing (see infographic on right).
  3. Communications networks are delivering the bandwidth necessary to make these devices work.

Several recent news reports reveal just how fast we are moving toward a lifestyle similar to that of “The Jetsons.” The global market research and consulting company MarketsandMarkets published a report in November stating that the value of the home automation and controls market is expected to reach $48.02 billion by 2018. And in January, tech giant Google entered the home automation arena when it bought Nest Labs, the maker of advanced thermostats and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.

The Ivee,  a voice-activated assistant that controls home automated devices over your Wi-Fi network, was one of the many products that premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

The Ivee, a voice-activated assistant that controls home automated devices over your Wi-Fi network, was one of the many products that premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

The future was perhaps most evident at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held in January in Las Vegas. Dominating the huge conference were new, wearable, connected devices that control, monitor, collect, communicate and share for a wide range of functions (see www.cesweb.org for highlights).

For any of this technology to work, however, consumers need access to a reliable broadband network. Whether the devices are connecting directly to the Internet, across a broadband-enabled Wi-Fi network in your home or via a cell tower, the network that our independent telecommunications providers are building is making all this functionality possible in rural America.