(BPT) - The artificial intelligence that's already taking the world by storm is ramping up even more in 2018, enabling a number of innovative new smart home tools that can make your life easier, more comfortable or just more fun.
Throughout the year, consumers worldwide are expected to spend $102 billion on hardware, services and installation related to smart home systems, an amount expected to ramp up to $157 billion by 2022. The number of connected things installed in smart cities by next year? Nearly 1.1 billion, predicts Statista. Increasingly, people will enjoy the convenience of being able to monitor and control their surroundings with a simple touch or a few words of direction. In fact, a 2017 study found 24 percent of consumers already own a voice-controlled device and another 20 percent plan to purchase one in the next year.
'Pretty much anything can be made smart these days,' notes Bernard Marr in Forbes. 'For our homes, there are obvious smart products like TVs and less obvious ones, like yoga mats that track your Downward Dog. We can carry out a whole range of tasks on the move simply by touching a screen.'
Some of the hottest smart home products that have recently debuted:
* LG's entire line of OLED TVs is now AI enabled. They also let you speak right into the remote control so with one word, you can check weather reports, search for content from over-the-air or streaming sources (including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu or YouTube), order items through Google or even control other IoT devices within your network. Even better, LG Electronics has invented a next-generation OLED TV that combines the most powerful A9 Intelligent Processor created with Atmos audio technology. The result? The LG SIGNATURE OLED TV W8 offers stunningly clear and detailed pictures, cinema-quality sound and ultra-fast response times.
* Seeking the smartest refrigerator on the market? The Wi-Fi-enabled LG ThinQ InstaView is the first to offer built-in Amazon Alexa that responds to your spoken directions by creating to-do lists and grocery lists, ordering the groceries themselves, controlling your refrigerator settings, playing the music of your choice and otherwise stepping up to make your life easier. A convenient touchscreen panel lets you instantaneously peruse the weather, recipes, shopping sites or the contents of your fridge - without losing energy by opening the door.
* Hands-free speakers with voice-activated assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Echo are helping tens of millions of people worldwide efficiently manage their lives by interacting on command with everything from home appliances to entertainment systems to information sources to online shopping venues.
* What's for dinner? Recipe apps like SideChef and Innit already deliver fast and intelligent answers to that age-old question, giving everything needed to plan and prepare the next meal. Voice-controlled AI takes this to the next level. Innit is now connected to some models of smart ovens, and for SideChef that feature is coming online in 2018. What does that mean for home chefs? When they speak to the oven to start heating, it will already know those roasted veggies need 25 minutes in a 425-degree oven.
* In its latest version, the Bluetooth music headset that may already be a staple of your life allows you to access the Google Assistant by voice so you can instantly access a range of functions beyond just music. The LG TONE PLATINUM SE lets you request and receive notifications and answers to questions, send text or audio messages and more while you're on the go.
Thanks to the continual evolution of technology, we can start the new year with fun new products aimed at making our lives more efficient, organized and enjoyable. And that pattern should only continue into the future.
'Already, many of us wake up in our 'smart beds' to a Bluetooth-connected alarm clock that communicates with our WiFi-enabled speakers,' notes marketing consultant A.J. Agrawal in Entrepreneur. 'Soon, all our devices - microwaves, washing machines and even bird feeders - will be connected to the web. With geospatial data from all of our devices, tech-savvy companies will be able to optimize and automate systems, eradicating inefficiencies caused by human error.'