The Internet of Things is picking up pace in a variety of different areas – smart cities, healthcare and the workplace are all starting to benefit from the use of internet-connected sensors and the data they transmit. But one area that has been slow to develop is the smart home.
Consumer electronics companies are stepping up the pace and releasing growing numbers of gadgets on to the market, but so far, with 48% of consumers saying they own no connected devices at all. There are plenty of sceptics who argue the IoT is a case of hype exceeding substance and that consumers simply don’t see the benefit of a smart home. But the situation is not as simple as this. When asked, consumers do indicate they are interested in the idea of the smart home – but there are several barriers stopping them purchasing.
Many of these barriers are related to perception. Customers think of connected home devices as being too expensive – 48% agree with this – and they also think the technology still needs to evolve. Just over a quarter (26%) agree that this needs to happen. Plus, it’s important to remember that a fully connected home is an expensive thing to create, and will take most consumers years. Few will spend several hundred pounds on a connected fridge until they need to. For this reason, replacement cycles will play a big role in the growth of the connected home and consumers’ use of IoT devices.
While it is clear that there are several barriers slowing down the connected home’s growth, this doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Indeed, consumers say they’re actually interested in the IoT as a concept – 66% agree with the statement that the IoT will make their lives easier – and they do understand it at a basic level. What businesses need to do is improve this level of understanding, and make it clear to each consumer exactly how his or her life might change.
The communication around the IoT needs to improve, and the consumer brands and technology companies who stand to gain from it also have a lot of work to do to improve logistics around it as well. The connected home needs a common set of standards before it can become mainstream, so that devices can communicate with one another and everything can be controlled via one platform. Otherwise, the convenience promised by the IoT won’t be attainable for consumers who are forced to use several different apps and operating systems.
Consumers are clearly interested in the smart home, businesses now just need to provide a proposition that is good enough for them.
Find out more in Consumer Review: Switch on to the connected home