Electronics have found a way to become tightly interwoven in our modern lives. In a typical modern home, you will see a number of gadgets like mobile phones, TVs, media players, decoders, microwaves, refrigerators and more.
This has been the case for the past decades and you will notice two major changes with home technology: Either some get discontinued entirely or some get massive upgrades compared to earlier models.
Home Tech That Could Be Phased Off In The Future
It is not new to hear tech products being discontinued due to lack of interest or poor sales. Some even manage to pop up decades after they were first announced as a form of reboot to the technology.
Here are some of tech products that I believe will be phased off as time goes by.
Virtual Reality is a technology that has had its ups and downs. VR has been available to regular customers for years, especially in the gaming industry. It claims to give gamers a more immersive experience while gaming that is something you don’t experience while gaming normally while looking at a monitor.
Oculus started the latest generation of VR for consumers in 2012 and they ended up being bought by Facebook later. They have the Oculus Rift headset which is not cheap by any measures but is targeted for people who would love to game in VR.
They also had a passive headset for Samsung phones that started with the Galaxy S6, where you connect the phone to the headset and watch VR content through it.
HTC also has the Vive headset which is regarded as the main Oculus Rift competitor and it is also quite pricey. Sony also gave the PlayStation ecosystem a VR headset, which they called it the PlayStation VR.
Although this technology is cool, it has not taken off like how the smartphone did and you can bet it will fade away slowly to oblivion, only to re-emerge again in the future.
Cable TV subscription was the highlight in the TV business back then and you needed a decoder to process those satellite signals that are fed to your TV.
However, there has been a huge shift in how we consume TV in our homes. Thanks to the rise of streaming services like Netflix and faster fixed broadband speeds for home Wi-Fi, satellite TV is not as hot as it was a few years back.
This has seen a reduction of people actively taking up satellite TV subscriptions and instead getting home Wi-Fi, especially in the urban areas. For a similar satellite TV subscription price, you can pay for Wi-Fi at home and subscribe for a streaming service like Netflix. This change is so apparent in South Africa and has become a major threat to DStv.
Feature phones were king when the concept of a mobile phone was not as broadly defined as today. Nowadays our ‘smartphones’ are also our maps, our fitness trackers, possibly only cameras we have, web surfing devices and are insanely powerful.
Also, smartphones have also crept into that pricing category where feature phones dominated, the sub $100 market and this means it would be highly likely a person would buy a smartphone than a feature phone.
DSLRs and pocket cameras
We can blame the decline in sales of pocket cameras to the smartphone where we have seen rapidly improving image quality from cameras on smartphones. We are in an age where computational photography is now the present and these pocket cameras can’t keep up.
In the DSLR world, there is a shift. Companies like Sony, Canon, Nikon and Fuji all have mirrorless cameras which means the trusty cameras with flappy mirrors inside will be a thing of the past. 2018 has been a significant step forward to a future of entirely mirrorless cameras and the DSLR would be looked at in the future as a relic.
Dumb kitchen appliances.
Generally, people have what we called ‘dumb’ kitchen appliances. Our microwaves, cookers and refrigerators work like the older ones where they do their work diligently without the need to be connected to each other or to the Internet.
However, that is shifting rapidly. We now have refrigerators with screens that can order products for you. Amazon recently announced a microwave that can be ordered around by their Alexa AI assistant. We also have smart toasters, smart coffee makers, Wi-Fi connected crock pots, smart cookers that let you watch YouTube as you bake stuff and much more.
The kitchen of the future would be one of the most technologically connected sectors of the house and it would be an interesting time to live in.
Phone chargers with cables
Most phones are charged via a cable that is connected to an adapter that is plugged to the wall. It has been improved over time to offer fast charging, but there is a strong contender in the future: wireless chargers
Currently, we see wireless charging capability gaining track on expensive flagship devices. It started on Android phones and Apple decided to introduce it to their smartphones last year.
However, we have drawbacks: It is still not as fast as traditional cable charging and we are yet to see the feature trickle down to the cheaper phones. Wireless charging is the future and future kids will be wondering why you used cables in the first place.
There is a subset of users who use streaming hardware that are connected to their TVs in order to watch content from certain services. This includes the likes of Chromecast, Amazon Firestick, Apple TV or the multiple Android streaming boxes that people use.
The reason why these might fizzle out in the future is TVs. TVs nowadays come with streaming services as standard and you only need to connect it to your Home Wi-Fi and you’re set. They also now feature Google Assistant integration as well as Alexa integration so the need to have physical streaming boxes or sticks plugged to the TV will probably not be a thing in the future.
Optical disc players
Ever since Apple decided to remove the disc drive from their Macbooks and the wide adoption of flash disks, disc players and optical drives have been crawling slowly to their death.
Nowadays, it is rare to see a new laptop that comes with a DVD or Bluray disk player and mostly are chunky gaming laptops. The other category of home tech that feature optical drives are gaming consoles like the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One families and it is sorely due to the fact that games are still sold in this storage medium.
Home Tech That Will Go Mainstream In The Future
The kitchen might become the most interesting section of the house of the future. There is a lot of potential from all of the kitchen gadgets and we have started seeing the beginning of this revolution.
There will be smart microwaves, cookers, coffee makers, toasters, rice cookers and refrigerators and this will be the norm. LG currently has a refrigerator with a screen for example and it connects to the Internet. Utensils are also in the mix with smart spoons and knives and much more.
This could all be tied up into one tidy Internet of Things network. For example, when your phone wakes you up via the alarm, this could be used to signal your coffee maker to make a cup or the fridge will show glance able info via its screen that you might want to know.
Consolidation of IoT devices
The house of the future will be smart and this means that all of your devices will need to talk to each other so that they work efficiently at your expense. Your smart kitchen, TV, audio system, bulbs, curtains, toilet or shower will be connected to your Wi-Fi network and will need to be managed somehow.
This could be done through a central hub with AI or a purely cloud based system with AI that will coordinate tasks effectively. For example if you tell Alexa to dim lights in your bedroom, it will know which room is your bedroom and it will dim the lights.
Wireless charging everywhere
Charging via cables will be a thing of the past and wireless charging is the future. The idea of charging without cables is very appealing and it would make charging via cables seem like something straight from the 18th century.
Imagine a scenario where wireless charging pads are everywhere: On your sofa armrest, dining room table, on your desk as standard, on your kitchen counter and so on. This could be it.
However, wireless charging has its drawbacks in its current form: It charges rather slowly relative to traditional cable charging and you can not use the phone for example as freely as you would while charging via cable.
Also, we wonder if they will add wireless charging for laptops if it becomes fast enough.
Traditional home security has always been either using physical keys, arming an alarm system or in some cases a private CCTV system.
This is changing rather quickly. Use of biometrics is not new while opening doors and all but this could be standard. We have seen padlocks that can be opened using your fingerprint (although JerryRigEverything found it to be terrible).
When it comes to monitoring home movements, there is usually no need to have an expensive CCTV system for your house. Nest currently sell cameras you can place around your house that are connected to the cloud and you can monitor remotely. You can also get footage from your cameras if you have a subscription with them.
Better Power Tracking and Sustainable Energy Use
Our current setup involves having meters that track our power usage in terms of total kilowatt hour usage and this power could have been sourced from a host of different energy sources.
The future could be slightly different and can work with appropriate legislation. There could be a situation where we could have a monitor that is able to efficiently track how much power the various IoT devices in your house consume and give a detailed breakdown so that you are kept in the loop.
In terms of sustainable energy, Tesla is showing the way in this front. They have solar tiles that generate power which is stored on their Powerwalls, which are basically giant batteries. This energy is henceforth distributed across the home for use and this could change completely how we generate power and reduce dependency on the national grid.
Cars are an important part of the household and we are now seeing a revolution in this industry, spearheaded by companies like Tesla. Tesla is now mass producing the car it wanted to make in the first place, the Model 3, which is an all electric vehicle for the masses.
Such an achievement and the press around it has made other manufacturers take notice and invest heavily in electric car development. The limiting factor right now is fast charging stations, which are very limited in number and producing enough batteries to fulfill a future unexpected demand.
This car also has the potential to tie in with your home’s IoT network and become part of your suite of tech that works together with others to make your life better.
Streaming Services will take over
Streaming services will definitely take over in the future home and satellite TV/cable TV/over the air TV will be a thing of the past. This will be thanks to faster broadband speeds and the rise of streaming services.
Starting with TV services, the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime are producing original shows to reduce dependency on showing licenced content from other networks. Other 20th century networks like Disney are also coming up with their own streaming networks (2019 for Disney) which is a scary move for Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Music streaming is currently popular, but comparing it with the general population of Earth, they have so much work to do. Spotify for example has 180 million users, which is only 2.37% of the entire world population.
Streaming will become the normal way of life. We will stream our TV, music and even radio.