The biggest smart home companies and what they offer

The next frontier in our increasingly connected world are smart homes, and a growing number of households are gaining IQ points.

A 2016 report from PwC found that 72 percent of people claimed to be unwilling to pay for smart home technology, and were unlikely to introduce it into their homes. Two years later, in 2018, ownership of smart devices has doubled to 30 percent, but 52 percent of consumers still remain unconvinced by connected homes.

But if the trend continues to move in this direction, and as the prices of this technology begin to fall, widespread adoption at some point seems likely. In fact, analysts expect us the global smarthome market to be worth over $50 billion by 2022.

But who are the main players in the smart home game and what do they each offer?

Read on for a rundown of the biggest smart home companies and the most innovative products they produce.

Nest

Nest

Google-owned Nest is a name that comes up again and again in the smart home domain. Initially known for its app-enabled thermostat and smoke alarm, the company has since branched out into the full comprehensive range of smart home gadgetry.

Pioneered by two former Apple employees, the simplicity and slick design elements of Nest clearly denote their lineage.

Nest now has a range of smart products including security cameras and doorbells that are all connected together via the Nest app.

A lot of them are now integrated with Google’s smart home products, for example, Nest Cam IQ Indoor has a built-in Google Assistant smart speaker.

Amazon

Amazon

The ecommerce behemoth is still forefront of the smart home hub market, with Alexa-powered smart speaker, Amazon Echo.

You can summon Alexa to carry out a range of everyday tasks including playing music, making calls, manage to-do lists and shopping lists, and importantly, controlling all other Amazon connected devices in the home.

Amazon offers a whole raft of other smart, Alexa compatible products including smart plugs, and Alexa also works with a range of third party smart home devices such as Nest devices and Philips smart light bulbs.

Philips

Philips

Philips has moved into the smart home market with its wireless, smart Hue Lightbulbs range, that let you control the precise intensity and colour gradient of your lighting.

Philips have scored a first movers advantage by being the first company to carve a niche within smart lighting, and many would say they remain market leaders.

The bulbs allow you to set schedules and timers, for example setting them to slowly brighten your bedroom in the morning to create a sunrise effect.

They're also compatible with a whole range of other smart home systems such as Amazon and Google.

Belkin
Image: Belkin

Belkin

Belkin is another serious contender in the smart home appliance market, especially known for its smart outlets and switches as part of its Wemo range. The smart outlet (Belkin Wemo mini) allows you to control how much power you’re using, as well turning off or on anything that’s connected to the outlet remotely via the app.

Comes with some interesting functionality such as ‘randomised lighting’ that switches lights on and off while you’re on holiday to give the appearance of someone being home.

Again, you can schedule the time appliances turn on or off through a smartphone, and it integrates with a number of voice assistants for hands-free control.

Ecobee

Ecobee

Founded in 2007, Ecobee offers a host of Alexa-enabled devices, developing the first light switches to be compatible with the Amazon voice assistant, Ecobee Switch +.

This means the switch can do everything Amazon Echo can, as well as the ability to control other smart devices through it.

Ecobee also offers a sleekly designed thermostat and room sensors. The thermostat intelligently adjusts its output based on heating and cooling equipment based on your home’s energy profile, the weather and many other data points. The sensors clock when someone is home and adjusts the temperature in response, claiming to consequently save users 23 percent on energy bills.

All of this in service to Ecobee co-founder and CEO Stuart Lombard’s vision of the "helpful home".

Ecobee is pitted against Google-backed competitor, Nest, but the latter still grabs the largest share of the smart thermostat market in the US - 73 percent compared to Ecobee's 17 percent. But Nest’s thermostats do not currently function as Amazon smart speakers, so Ecobee may have the edge.

Samsung

Samsung

The electronics giant has made a concerted push into the smart home market with a range of product launches in the past couple of years. Among other things, they offer a range of SmartThings sensors that track movement and temperature, providing your smart home with a wealth of data to work from.

They also offer a useful smart hub, that is compatible with most smart home products on the market, giving you one place to coordinate all of the smart appliances.

A smart speaker powered by Samsung’s answer to Alexa, the somehow less catchy ‘Bixby’ is forthcoming, indicating their desire to snatch some of Amazon’s market share.

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.