MEMS and Nanotechnology in Smart HomesMarch 20, 2006
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Although still in its infancy, the smart home concept is finally moving into the broader market. The report takes a look at current state-of-the-art smart homes and some of the opportunities already being pursued by those developing MEMS and nanotechnology-based solutions. The report also takes a look at the seemingly endless supply of novel ideas for added functionality in cell phones of the future (despite the fact that actual implementation remains extremely limited). From a market perspective, the integration of electronics into clothing and textiles made a big leap commercially, wireless sensor networks are gaining traction, and the use of next-generation technologies to monitor production processes for quality control purposes appears to be picking up. Other news of note includes a new battery technology and one of the strongest materials ever developed (could this be the body armor of the future?), and more.
Innovations in MEMS (microelectromechnical systems), nanomaterials, and other emerging technologies are making smart homes a reality for the masses. The market research firm reports that more sensors than ever are being adopted by OEMs as a way to provide increased convenience to the consumer, with manufacturers of HVAC, lighting products, and white goods among the first to integrate sensors at the system level to remotely monitor and adjust energy usage. However, while ease-of-use and reduced energy costs are all reasons for consumers to embrace the smart home concept, novelty has its place as well and may be what really captures their attention.
“As evidenced from residential communities in various stages of development all around the world, smart homes currently range from marginally intelligent to fully connected,” said Marlene Bourne, principal analyst. “Part of the reason for its slow acceptance to this point may be that ‘smart home’ implies a certain level of complexity and need for technical proficiency that most consumers aren’t comfortable with. Consumer-friendly products and approaches are what will truly drive the growth of this segment, and both MEMS and nanomaterials are playing a key role here.”
We reported that the recent introduction of innovative front door security systems, handheld barcode scanners to monitor the inventory of groceries and household items, electronic textiles (via interactive quilts), and DIY (Do-It-Yourself) insulation and mold-prevention products applied just like paint are the kind of novel, user-friendly items that will put smart homes in a context the average consumer will quickly embrace. Even better, we have found that many of these products can be easily integrated into existing home networks (or retrofit into homes without one) as wireless plug-and-play components, an ideal way of increasing a home’s intelligence.
The emergence of smart homes as a growth opportunity for suppliers of MEMS and nanotechnology-based solutions is but one of many trends identified and tracked in The Bourne Report. A unique new series of market research reports, The Bourne Report offers insightful business intelligence on the emerging technology marketplace.
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