What's needed to drive smart home forward

What's needed to drive smart home forward

Smart home has become a popular phenomenon, as consumers use smart home devices such as smart locks, smart lighting, and smart HVAC to enjoy a more automated and convenient home experience.

Yet difficulties in pushing the smart home concept to the masses have emerged. According to IHS Markit’s latest Remote Monitoring Report, the connected remote monitoring market in the Americas is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15.9 percent, from 5.5 million subscribers in 2015 to 11.5 million in 2020. The forecast is a revision from an earlier estimate to "account for the lack of broader consumer interest in smart-home products," the report said.

According to the market research firm, enthusiasm towards the smart home concept is clear among the so-called early adopters. But beyond that, certain barriers have become noticeable. “The initial uptake of smart home systems by early adopters was in line with expectations, but existing market barriers became more significant, as companies tried to expand beyond early adopters,” the report said.

A lack of market awareness is one of the barriers cited by the report. “While there has been some increased marketing activity in smart home over recent years, the effect of this increased exposure on smart-home products has been less than expected,” IHS said.

And experts agree that more efforts are needed to highlight the true value of smart homes, so that end user can understand, for example, that a smart lock is not just a lock, but the first trigger to a variety of smart devices such as lights and HVAC. “Awareness and education [are needed to] increase consumer confidence,” said Neil Salt, Chief Product & Marketing Officer at Aurora Group. “Once they begin to understand the benefits, that will drive growth.”

A second barrier is the fragmentation in the market in terms of standardization. The lack of a unified standard in smart home has made it difficult for, for example, lights and HVAC to interconnect. This is in contrast with the success of the IT industry, where all networked devices follow a single standard: TCP/IP.

Yet again, progress has been made in this regard. “Recent news from Apple about an iOs10 app that will control all HomeKit-enabled devices is yet another step toward a unified smart-home consumer ecosystem,” the IHS report said. “Apple Home is expected to stimulate the accessibility of do-it-yourself (DIY) systems and reduce the confusion caused by fragmentation within the industry.”

Although these barriers exist, the potential of smart home is not to be ignored, as the report cited surveys showing that half of consumers in North America plan to purchase smart home devices within the next year. Stepped-up awareness campaigns, as well as efforts to ensure further interoperability among devices, are therefore key to propel the smart home concept forward.



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