According to IT research and advisory firm Gartner, one of the most significant trends in the near future will be the emergence of the 'smart home'. It is becoming cheaper for manufacturers to add sensory and communications technology to consumer products, so it is possible that the typical family home will contain hundreds of smart devices by 2022, according to the report.

We are already familiar with smartphones and smart TVs, which complement traditional functions with access to the internet and various other tools and services, but the growth of wireless technology means appliances such as cookers and washing machines can have similar capabilities.

Gartner pointed out that the trend also extends to transport technologies, security and environmental controls, and healthcare and fitness equipment.

Nick Jones, vice president and analyst at the firm, said: "We expect that a very wide range of domestic equipment will become 'smart' in the sense of gaining some level of sensing and intelligence combined with the ability to communicate, usually wirelessly.

"More sophisticated devices will include both sensing and remote control functions. Price will seldom be an inhibitor because the cost of the Internet of Things enabling a consumer 'thing' will approach $1 (62p) in the long term."

The number of smart devices in the home is expected to rise slowly for at least a decade, mainly because large domestic appliances are replaced infrequently.

Gartner also pointed out that the 'smart home' concept faces challenges such as consumer uncertainty about its value. The company said the onus is on designers to come up with products that have an appeal and everyday practicality beyond technological novelty and simple control functions.

Developers also have to solve the problem of making devices that are extremely complex simple and user-friendly for people who are not technologically minded.

While these challenges mean the 'mature smart home' is unlikely to become a reality until at least 2020, Gartner pointed out that smart domestic products are already being made, offering a new world of digital business opportunities.

The rise of smart TVs

Smart technology is already a familiar part of many homes via the television set. Gone are the days when your TV's capability extended no further than showing you current broadcasts - today's state-of-the-art products allow you to use apps like the BBC's iPlayer, access online film streaming services and visit websites.

Panasonic recently announced that it was expanding its 'Beyond Smart' range with the launch of the AX902 TV, which boasts features including the 'my Stream' function, which learns user habits and offers content recommendations based on your personal preferences.

The technology has developed to the point that the Daily Mail recently published an article asking if your smart TV could be "spying on your family". The newspaper cited a Which? study noting that users who agree to the device's terms and conditions are giving permission for brands to monitor the programmes they watch and the websites they browse.

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