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CES 2020: Apple Trying To Get A Seat At The SmartHouse Table

One of the biggest battles at CES 2020 was around the Connected Home, with SmartHouse technology being front and centre of several debates as to where this CE category is going, and Apple has returned to the table after 28 years to be a key part of the discussion.

Rather than pitching new hardware, Apple executive Jane Horvath spoke on a consumer privacy panel on January 7, where the issue of SmartHouse security was a key part of the discussion.

After teaming up with Amazon and Google to be part of the voice activation push, these three big companies are looking to standardise around a Zigbee Open standard that will deliver better security for the home, which is why Apple was back at CES.

Google and Amazon are set to expand on their existing digital-assistant technology and that of third-party vendors, who are now offering technology built around voice activation from Amazon and Google.

In the future, this could change to include a new generation of appliances and motor vehicles, as well as smartphone software that delivers superior security than what we have today.

Both tech giants are likely to roll-out new software capabilities and share statistics showing the size and reach of their voice-based platforms.

Apple’s HomeKit, a system for controlling devices in the home, was also on display, despite this platform struggling up against the dominant Google and Amazon offerings.

Samsung Electronics, who last year were heavily pushing their Bixby Voice Activation offering, which as yet has failed to make it in Australia and is more a nuisance on smartphones than a key function, discussed smart-home initiatives during their keynote address, along with the launch of their new TVs, health technology, robotics and a new AI project.

Google, Amazon and Apple recently joined Samsung in the Zigbee Alliance, which is a foundation that promotes standards for smart-home devices, as well as the broader Internet of Things.

According to Bloomberg, Apple is frantically hiring connected home software and hardware engineers in an effort to catch up with their two archrivals.

With smartphone sales growth waning and PC demand stagnant, voice-based computing is one of the biggest opportunities in the technology industry – and the home is where some of the earliest consumer adoption is happening.

Forrester Research expects the market for smart-home devices to expand 26% a year between 2018 and 2023.

Consulting firm Juniper Research Ltd. estimates there will be about 7.4 billion voice-controlled devices in use by 2023 – about one for every person on Earth. But, with many of these gadgets in homes and always listening, it’s raised several new privacy concerns.

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