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
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