LAS VEGAS: Voice-activated assistants and smart home products will hit an "inflection point" this year, encouraging more consumers to automate certain shopping and lifestyle decisions, according to Shawn DuBravac, Chief Economist/Senior Director of Research at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

Speaking at CES 2017, an event organised by the CTA, DuBravac suggested voice-activated services like Amazon Alexa and Google Home would gain significant traction this year, as will technologies powering the intelligent home.

"I see us crossing over a number of of very important inflection points," he said. (For more details on this topic, read Warc's exclusive report: Tech trends for 2017: Insights from CES.)

"So: We move from the theoretical to the practical. We move from thinking how we might use these devices if they only worked just a little bit better to, ultimately, how we can take this technology and deploy it rapidly today."

In illustrating this point, the CTA forecasts that volume sales of voice-activated assistants will rise by 52% in the US this year, reaching 4.5 million units overall – a process hinting at how habits may change going forwards.

"We began by using the smartphone as a hub, and now we’re starting to offload that, and move some of those technologies beyond the smartphone," said DuBravac.

"So, you can start to control ever-increasingly smaller elements of that experience. It’s going to a specific movie, a specific scene, it's finding something that you're looking for out of hours and hours of content that you might have access to."

In a related shift, the growing popularity of smart home products will see consumers outsource various decisions to automated appliances and services.

DuBravac cited the example of Whirlpool's Smart Top Load Washer and Dryer, which is connected to Amazon Dash, the ecommerce site's automated purchasing platform, and can order new detergent when it predicts supplies are dwindling.

"I think the broader theme here is how we are increasingly allowing these small things to be automated," he reported to the CES attendees.

"If we're allowing devices to order things on our behalf – detergent when we're running low; other things when we're in need – then you can imagine that what you're buying over electronic platforms, whether it's Amazon or anything else, can easily be 40% to 50% of all that we buy."

Data sourced from Warc