As the Google Glass and the new smart watches appearing this fall demonstrate, tech geeks will soon be wearing their computers. Beyond that, the future of the internet-of-things promises to connect nearly every device people might use on a daily basis. This sort of technology will start with devices that could obviously use automation, such as cars or thermostats. Such devices are now predicted to be large growth segments of the tech industry in the years to come.
Market research firm Navigant Research today predicted that nearly 32 million smart thermostats will have been installed worldwide by the year 2020. This is far more than the less than 1.4 million smart thermostats that are currently installed worldwide. The firm predicts that much of this growth will come from utilities that sell the devices to their customers to avoid expansion costs or meet energy efficiency mandates. However, the smart thermostat market is also predicted to be extremely small, as Navigant forecasts just a 4.7% global penetration rate for the technology in 2020.
“Unlike products and solutions that are driven by government-sponsored utility smart grid programs, smart thermostats have remained largely in the commercial sphere, where individual energy efficiency awareness and cost savings determine purchasing decisions,” said Bob Lockhart, research director at Navigant. “However, the combined factors of increased energy awareness, interest in home automation and security tools, and more user-friendly solutions have led to an uptick in shipments for residential smart thermostats during the past year and have revived a sense of optimism and excitement among vendors and stakeholders.”
Of course, smart thermostats have been around for years now. The most famous is the Nest, a programmable thermostat that "learns" the habits of house occupants.