Every year, CEDIA sees top experts in the residential technology industry gathering to connect with smart home enthusiasts. This year’s convention took place from September 7-9, 2023 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, CO. CEDIA 2023 and was co-located with Commercial Integrator Expo, which attendees were also able to see with a CEDIA Expo registration.
As smart home technology and AI continue to evolve, so too must our understanding of it, even at the consumer level. By staying up to date with the latest trends and technologies, you can create a more integrated, connected home, and protect it from cyber threats. In the opening keynote from Scott Steinberg, the tech futurist explored the impact of AI in smart homes and connected living.
AI’s Vastly Improved Natural Language Processing and Comprehension
AI’s ability to interact with humans has vastly improved since the first voice assistants. Its Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities allow AI to interpret and generate human language, and Steinberg predicts the future will see enhanced conversational skills that let AI “understand context, sarcasm, and the subtle nuances of different languages.” This will create more intelligent voice assistants in the future, their ability to interact with us could be on the level of Chat GPT-4 and beyond. Alexa is already seeing updates to its model, now powered by generative AI, which we will be able to enjoy soon and you can get notified of its availability via email.
There’s no denying that smart homes and ecosystems have become more complex. Even Matter, the Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity protocol designed to simplify smart homes by allowing connectivity over multiple ecosystems, has added complexities. So it is with all technological advancements until they become status quo.
Adding advanced AI into the mix, many people are wary of the impact, which begets a need for transparency. People want and need to understand how AI works, to give them peace of mind that we’re not headed into an iRobot situation. Are we? Unlikely. But it is critical for the advancement of AI to build trust with the consumers it serves, especially if that AI will be running their smart homes (and has a smart mouth, at that).
Advancements in Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
AI’s integration into the IoT has led to smart homes learning our preferences. This trend is expected to continue and expand as AI advances. It will reach beyond the home and into other industries. Energy efficiency and sustainability are at the forefront of many smart home devices so that these products can help lower waste and reduce costs, like smart thermostats, smart lighting, and many types of sensors for indoor and outdoor scenarios, like irrigation. With the capacity to learn preferences, smart home owners (and renters) that use these devices can play a huge role in environmentalism. Smart cities should also be on the rise, becoming more sustainable, with smart transportation, smart irrigation, and other infrastructure.
Cyber Threats and AI’s Role
As AI advances, cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated. Is AI part of the problem? Yes and no. While AI is undeniably being used to con people out of money and terrorize them into thinking their loved ones are in danger, AI will be part of the solution. Steinberg notes, “automated tools can help detect and prevent breaches, instantly respond to threats and predict future attack strategies.” Smart minds are working on problems of cyber security that arise, and AI is right there to lend its help.
Smart home devices will also need to be designed with features like end-to-end encryption, biometric authentication, and data minimization. Many already are. Ring makes their smart video doorbells and cameras with end-to-end encryption, Lockly makes smart locks with 3D biometric authentication, and Apple devices like the Apple Homepod Mini feature data minimization. The FCC is even stepping in with their US Cyber Trust Mark for consumers, which sets a new standard for cybersecurity when it comes to smart home products. In 2024, you can expect to see the US Cyber Trust Mark on certain smart devices, which will allow you to make better choices when shopping for your smart home.
Ethical Considerations and Regulatory Frameworks Around AI
With the advent of advanced, conversational, generative AI and its integration into smart home technology, ethical considerations must be made, and regulatory frameworks should be put into effect. Potential misuse of AI, accountability, and privacy are in the foreground of this discussion.
Hacking into private Wi-Fi networks via smart home products has long been a concern, and there are many protective measures one can take (such as secure modems and routers), but there are other misuses of AI that developers must consider as we continue down this path. There is currently an AI scam where con artists are utilizing AI to clone a person’s voice, then faking emergency calls to their relatives to ask for large sums of money. The AI is so convincing that many have been conned, and it is advised to have a code word to use with family members to mitigate this issue.
The current strike in Hollywood centers around not only the issue of fair compensation, but the regulation of the use of AI. Actors are fighting against the reproduction and use of their voices and likeness without their consent, while writers are fighting against the use of AI by studio executives to create subpar, AI generated screenplays and replace writers in the writer’s room, as well as for the right for young writers to learn on the ground floor as they did. Artists have had their work stolen and used in AI generated artwork. The issue of AI misuse extends far beyond smart home tech, and regulation is needed across the board. Where to begin? Perhaps Scott Steinberg, and futurists like him, will lead the way with keynotes such as his at CEDIA 2023.
CEDIA 2023 Opening Keynote
CEDIA 2023 saw many new innovations, advancements, and expert speakers. Steinberg’s keynote is taking place the day before the show floor opened, on September 6, 2023, at 5:30 PM MT in the Mile High Ballroom 1-2 at the Colorado Convention Center. To follow his work, you can check out his website, or his new book Make Change Work for You. The more you understand about technology, AI, and smart homes, the better equipped you will be to utilize it in your life, making it more efficient, convenient, and sustainable.