Smart homes technology and connected home devices are synonymous with convenience, but the impact of a connected home also means safety, security, and cost-effectiveness. Yet for the consumer to feel the full gamut of benefits requires platforms, devices, and applications to come together in one ecosystem.
This is an opportunity for companies. Those that can power one platform, work symbiotically with other manufacturers, and put these pieces together seamlessly, will reap the rewards with increased adoption by homeowners.
Safety and Security
The inherent value of machine learning-based device data (sampled in microseconds and delivered in real time) is its ability to address specific concerns. With those needs addressed, buyer perception of devices or systems that allow you to check if you’ve left the door unlocked or the oven on will evolve from “cool” to “useful” to “must-have.” If an elderly person breaks a behavioral pattern and fails to use the kettle for morning tea – relatives could be alerted. The same goes for if a teenager forgets to switch off his/her hair straightener, an app could send an alert. And, when the house is meant to be empty, the homeowner could be notified if the lights are turned on.
To avoid the hefty price tag of an integrated system, customers are taking the piecemeal approach, installing elements of a smart home like the Nest Learning Thermostat, Sonos speakers, or Philips Hue light bulbs. More than 80 million smart home products were sold worldwide in 2016, according to a CNBC report, and device sales this year are predicted upwards of 130 million. Sales of Nest (owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet) smoke detectors, August smart locks, and Ring video doorbells are up. Some devices, such as smart smoke detectors, are in homes because insurance companies offer financial incentives. Easy-to-install devices such as motion sensors that send alerts when windows and doors are opened, and cameras that monitor activity, are popular because they address specific needs. However, problems arise when people want to grow and scale their systems; these gateway devices don’t easily work together.
Voice assist could overcome one of the drawbacks of the piecemeal approach, by becoming the standard integrator of all the other bits of a smart kit, says The Economist. This year, 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated device (standalone) at least once a month, estimates eMarketer, and the wider market – including Siri, Alexa, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana – is expected to grow 23.1 percent this year.
Smart homes technology that adapts to the needs of different homes will encourage people to invest and extend their individual systems, creating a customized smart home that cares for its inhabitants, whether the solution is an open-source industry standard, vertically-integrated proprietary system, or something else entirely.