Demand for smart-home technology rising

    Market research groups are seeing increased sales of lights that turn off when you say “good night,” smart locks that let in your friends before you get home and similar smart-home gadgets.

    While the devices are still relatively expensive—you can get six regular light bulbs for the price of a single smart one—demand is likely to pick up as prices fall.

    “This holiday, it’s starting to turn the corner into the mass market,” says Steve Koenig, senior director of market research at the Consumer Technology Association, which puts on the CES gadget show in Las Vegas each January.

    Until recently, many people viewed these products as unnecessary luxuries. So what’s changed? The growing popularity of smart speakers and their digital assistants, mainly. From your couch, you can now ask Echo’s Alexa assistant to play your favorite music or check the weather. You can even order pizza, track flights or play Jeopardy.

    The more people use such speakers, it turns out, the more things they want them to do. In some cases, that leads directly to other smart gadgets for the home.

    U.S. sales of smart speakers have more than tripled to nearly 25 million in 2017, about 11 million coming during the holiday quarter, according to a CTA estimate. They’re expected to grow further in 2018, to about 36 million, as Apple’s HomePod joins the fray.

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