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Today, I attended the Shanghai Smart Home Technology (SSHT) [上海国际智能家居展览会] and Shanghai Intelligent Building Technology (SIBT) [上海国际智能建筑展览会] exhibitions in Shanghai. SIBT is an event for innovative intelligent building technologies and solutions related to the Internet of Things (IOT), cloud computing, and big data for building energy efficiency, energy management systems, and intelligent housing in general. SSHT, on the other hand, focuses more on home automation, technologies, technical integration, and cross-sector business collaboration in order to make our homes more convenient.

The exhibition was maybe slightly larger than the other fairs that I have visited this year and also had a higher visitor density. Also, almost all presenters at almost all booths there were permanently engaged in discussions with interested audience. It was clearly visible that there currently is a huge marked for smart homes and smart buildings with high consumer interest.

Many different companies presented diverse products. In my perception, the largest share of products were automation tools for end consumers such as automated switches maybe controlled via a mobile phone app, multi-functional sockets and switches with LCD displays, actuators such as automated curtain openers (maybe controlled via an app), intelligent locking and surveillance systems, and integrated home entertainment systems. There were providers of electronic building blocks for IOT applications, integrating, and controlling other systems for developing other applications and there were network infrastructure providers. Fewer, but present, were software vendors for building control and management software as well as home robotics.

I would say that the gravitational center of the exhibits was the convenience of the user. If we leave aside the new entertainment systems, I think most of the exhibitions were on better interfaces: nicer switches and apps with which you can turn on and off basically everything in your home. The fraction of truly intelligent systems, e.g., systems that would try to learn from and predict the user behavior or that would try to predict future events or changing environment conditions and adjust the home or building behavior to them, seemed to be smaller (but then again, I cannot really understand Chinese, so I may have overlooked some interesting exhibits).

Given the huge audience at the fairs and the market they represent, I would say that must be a huge future for intelligent homes and buildings. I saw some product frameworks which aim at the higher-level control over and the management of buildings and components. Given the already existing network infrastructure of the components, especially for large building compounds or office buildings (both of which we have many in China), intelligent technologies for water and energy saving, lighting or elevator control, automated cleaning robots, and maintenance scheduling will surely have a great market. And, of course, optimization, operations research, and machine learning could enable and improve on them.