A study from emerging technologies research firm Navigant Research projects that the smart thermostat industry is going to increase in value to $1.4 billion from $100 million by 2020. Such a jump is going to require significant investment from both enterprises and consumers as the smart thermostat is still considered a luxury item, but as the smart home industry builds out — especially as a sector of the internet of things — interest in higher-priced devices that save energy and homeowner money will gain more traction.
Nest is a well-known option for shoppers of smart thermostats; its technology comes out of Nest Labs, which markets itself as a home automation company. And its technology is impressive: the thermostat adapts to a home’s preferences for temperature, and saves energy by automatically adjusting heating and cooling levels after learning a household’s routine. A few other companies make smart thermostats that have similar properties, the lure being the money-saving on heating bills and the ability to control the device from smartphones, but the market is still in the beginning stages of taking off with consumers — something that will have to evolve significantly over the next few years to meet the forecasted numbers.
The growth of the smart thermostat industry will be a larger part of the continued growth of the internet of things — projected to grow to $1.9 trillion in value according to Gartner. That market, which has been in fledgling mode for years, has gotten more hype in 2013 after the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February which debuted some of the smart devices for the future connected home. But among the smart refrigerators, toothbrushes, and thermostats were pieces of wearable technology that have been the first to really make it to the frontlines of the consumer electronics scene.
Of course, Google Glass and the smartwatch have been part of the mobile industry’s evolution from communications technology — specifically smartphones and tablets — to wearable technology that reflects increasing tech enterprise investments in wirelessly connecting devices that wouldn’t normally have network connections. While Google’s investments have clearly been in glasses, Samsung and Qualcomm stepped into the smartwatch market in early September. (Some analysts think Samsung and Qualcomm have advantages in this arena as they are both chip manufacturers whereas Google is not.) But these companies’ creations of wirelessly connecting mundane accessories are part of larger tech investments in building out a network of devices that enables the user to operate personal and household objects from remote locations. As more devices in the wearable tech and household tech markets enter the consumer electronics scene, the fully-connected smart home could be in the not-too-distant future for more users than those with just money to burn.