The trend of connected living is beginning enter the mainstream consciousness, as technology becomes more economically viable for all income brackets. We explore the potential for the adoption of smart home technology in the UK and internationally.
What is a smart home?
According to ENISA, a European Security Agency, a smart home can be defined as ‘homes equipped with technology that provides the occupants with comprehensive information about the state of their home and allows them to control all connected devices, including remotely’ (2004).
As well as providing users with the ability to control their devices remotely via apps or beautifully designed websites, a smart home also has the capability to understand the preferences of the user(s) to tailor it’s behaviour going forward. As the technology for these devices becomes more sophisticated, brands are looking to educate their target market and help them realise the potential of smart home technology.
Privacy and the ‘Internet of Things’
The ‘Internet of Things’ is a technology term that is associated with devices that have the capability to collect and exchange data. Connected devices allow home owners to configure their smart home according to their preferences, but there have been potential security concerns associated with this luxury.
The ethical debate surrounding authorities being able to access personal data was raised once again this week, as the FBI issued Apple with a court order to access the mobile phone of San Bernardino killer, Syed Farook. Apple refused to comply with these demands as they do not want to endanger the privacy of their customers by accessing an encrypted device through a means other than the security passcode.
What do consumers want?
Research conducted by GfK in a seven-country study across Asia discovered that three quarters of the Chinese population believe that smart home technology will have the biggest impact on their lives in the next few years. The biggest concern amongst this sample was privacy, but the research still showed that smart home technology is likely to have as big an effect on people’s lives as mobile payment.
In the UK ownership of smart devices for the home still shows signs of low investment, with a key barrier being that many devices are still idle to the home. As the gap between the manufacturer and the end-user’s ability to implement smart devices into their home is bridged, we should expect the smart home market to evolve.
Once smart technology becomes standard for home appliances, demand from the British population is expected to grow further as price will become less of a concern.
In the US, research conducted by Coldwell Banker in their Smart Home Marketplace Survey (2015) discovered that ‘almost half (45 percent) of all Americans either own smart home technology or plan to invest in it in 2016.’ Of the 4,000 US adults surveyed, many claimed that they were not early adopters of technology, indicating that smart home devices are becoming mainstream earlier than in the UK.
How are businesses responding?
Larger technology firms looking to move or expand in to the smart home market include Samsung, Google and Philips, with Apple not considering it as a major priority at this moment in time.
In terms of recent innovations that have looked to address the security concerns of consumers, Silk Labs launched their home intelligence hub ‘Sense’ this week. The hub processes machine learning and user information on the device itself rather than through a cloud platform. Although ‘Sense’ does have it’s own cloud platform, any information sent to it about the user is encrypted.
Innovative smart home technology devices to have been created in recent months include:
- Kohler Moxie Showerhead & Wireless Speaker – Stream music in the shower
- LIFX Smart Light – Usually the first foray into smart home products for consumers, this smart light can light up rooms with a variety of different colours
- Piper Classic Smart Home Security Camera – 180-degree HD camera giving you access to live video at any time from any app
- NEEO-Thinking Remote – ‘Master’ remote supporting more than 50,000 devices, with a one-month battery life
What are your opinions on smart home devices? Do you think you have uncovered the technology to make it mainstream in the UK? Get in touch with us in twitter@minttwist or say firstname.lastname@example.org today to share your thoughts.
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