The Internet of Things (IoT) has transformed how we communicate with, and control, the objects and environment around us. From asking Siri to dial the office, to relying on Alexa to tell us what the weather will be like, we are increasingly surrounding ourselves with intelligent and connected gadgets. In fact, the IoT has grown so significantly, that in just six years, we have seen the global installed base of IoT devices jump from a modest four million to an impressive 165 million devices. Still, this is a market composed primarily of early adopters.
The real challenge for creating increasingly smarter homes comes in the form of convincing regular consumers that there is a real benefit to adopting and actively using smart home technology. This could be in the form of lowering home insurance premiums by using smart technology to monitor for leaks, all the way to helping save money on energy bills thanks to smart meters or thermostats.
Smart home adoption will increase when the day-to-day running of the home is easier and more efficient thanks to smart devices. However, the challenge for the industry will be in getting regular customers to adopt this technology to begin with.
It’s all about the product
The fact that a device is smart and connected is not in and of itself enough for customers. Instead, demonstrating a real-world impact is crucial for the smart home to become a reality. While connected coffee machines are nice, they are seen by the clear majority of consumers as nothing more than a luxury gadget. After all, getting up and making coffee themselves is not a particularly demanding task.
However, smart home technology really comes into its own when it enables core infrastructure such as pipes and electricity cables, to start sending consumers meaningful, actionable insight. For example, alerting a consumer to the possibility of a leak before it becomes a major problem. Even better, when it can automatically connect consumers with services that can get the problem fixed at the push of a button. The problem is that getting consumers to the point where they want to adopt this technology is a major challenge for the industry.
A good analogy that Ovum points to is the connecting of the first iPhone with other services and apps on the App Store. With the right apps, this meant that the iPhone could become a fitness tracker, a workstation or a free videoconferencing service. Otherwise it would have essentially just been an iPod Touch that you could make calls from.
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