Smart speaker becomes important smart home hub in the US

Smart speaker becomes important smart home hub in the US
A new research from Parks Associates reveals that 35% of smart home owners use a smart home hub or app to control their smart home devices as part of an ecosystem, with smart speakers as the most prevalent controller. Also, 62% of those using a smart speaker as a hub use Amazon Alexa.
 
For now, smart speaker is leading in terms of centralized device control choice. 5% of U.S. broadband households use their smart speaker with voice assistant as a hub, compared to 3% who use a home security system and 2% who use an independent home control hub.
 
Among smart speaker owners, 28% use the speaker to control at least one smart home device through voice commands, Parks Associates points out.
 
The smart home scene in the U.S. is undergoing some obvious changes. "The majority of smart home owners still operate their products as stand-alone devices, but the rise of voice control, paired with the growth in number of connected devices in the home, has helped push more households toward centralized control," said Dina Abdelrazik, a research analyst at Parks Associates.
 
"U.S. broadband households now have more than 10 connected devices on average, and the growing number in consumers' lives intensifies the complexity in the smart home. Voice has emerged as a key interface to alleviate this complexity," Abdelrazik added.
 
Gfk MRI’s study concurs that smart device adoption in growing in the U.S. According to the most recent wave of data from MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer, half (51%) of Americans own at least one “smart life” device – from smart TVs to smart thermostats, while 6% have three or more.

Role of voice control

Voice platforms are important among smart home device owners who are planning to buy more devices in the next 12 months. About one-third of all smart home potential buyers plan to use a voice method to control the devices they buy. Among households that already have devices and a hub, a substantial portion plan to use voice as a primary method of controlling their planned purchases.
 
Centralized control is needed to bring convenience to end users. "A smartphone app may be sufficient for houses with just one device, but when people get their fourth or fifth product, using individual apps for each device creates friction for the end user. A hub or centralized unit of control becomes more and more appealing," Abdelrazik said.
 
Voice control helps to address the interoperability issue. "Competing protocols and fragmentation continue to inhibit smart home adoption, but end users who have already adopted smart home solutions see voice as a convenient means of controlling their growing network of products."

Profile of early technology adopters

Gfk MRI’s study points out that 16 million Americans own three or more smart devices. This particular segment of the population, termed by MRI as “Smart Lifers,” embrace connected technology with gusto. “The Smart Lifers are the most ripe target for all the newest technologies,” said Karen Ramspacher, SVP of Insights & Innovation at MRI.
 
Up to 83% of Smart Lifers have a smart TV (compared to just 36% of the total US population), 62% have a wearable fitness tracker (compared to 13% of the total population), 53% own a smart home hub (compared to 10% of the total population); and 47% have purchased a smart watch (compared to 7% of the total population).
 
MRI provides the Smart Lifers' profile for companies that are interested in marketing to this group: Six in ten (60%) Smart Lifers are married, and half (51%) have children. They also tend to be young, with a median age of 40, and are equally likely to be men or women.
 
Most are professionals, and they generally have higher than average salaries – which, at least for the moment, are helpful when paying for smart devices and services, MRI says.
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