Connected homes are here - but they come with challenges

29 Nov 2018  |  Scarlett O'Donoghue 
Connected homes are here - but they come with challenges

According to research from PwC, £10.8bn will be spent in the UK on smart home devices in 2019, with 40% of consumers expecting to upgrade to connected products within the next two years.

However, speaking at MAD//Fest 2018 alongside Samsung, David Coombs, head of strategic services at Cheil, warned that it won't be an easy transition as the way these technological advancements are being packaged can be "overwhelming" for consumers.

"The vast majority of consumers are aware of the connected home but not many claim to know a great deal about it," he said. "It’s a phrase that people are familiar with, but nobody really has a deep understanding of it.

"We can see that reflected in terms of ownership of those connected devices. The vast majority of us will have one device connected in our homes, but very few of us will have three or more, so we really haven’t taken that step into connecting lots of things and starting to form an ecosystem.

"Clearly there are things to do in terms of educating people and helping them on that journey to understanding exactly what it is."

Meanwhile, although figures show that consumers are starting to embrace smart homes, there are still many challenges that brands will have to face.

A primary concerns is the cost of smart devices, with 45% believing that home products are currently too expensive. Privacy is also a big issue with 37% concerned about their personal space, and finally, 'interoperability': 16% are concerned about having different devices that communicate across different systems, being forced to buy into a single brand.

According to Samsung's marketing director, Rebecca Hirst, "interoperability" will be a necessary step for tech companies if they want to appeal to a mass market.

"Gone are the days of one device from one manufacturer only speaking to devices from that same manufacturer," she said. "We are in a world where smart phones can get your Alexa speaker to talk to your Samsung TV and your doorbell all through one single app."

However there's still a pretty big gap that needs to be filled between the vision of the future that connected brands are talking about and the reality of where consumers are today.

"Showing consumers small every day moments and relatable examples of how to use smart home devices can start to nudge people into this connected space, helping them take babysteps into it," said Coombs.

"We know from research that when people do connect they get a much better experience than expected. The key is to help them ease into it."

Three things consumers want from smart homes

Samsung's research showed that the most important things consumers want help with in terms of connected homes fall under three pillars: security, comfort and order. Being able to see who is at your front door when you're not home is an example of what's live on the market right now, but in terms of security, Hirst believes there's more potential.

"The bigger opportunity here with security is about finance," she said "One of the biggest costs from house insurance companies that affects our house insurance premiums, is the risk of water damage.

"So imagine if you had a smart water leak detector, that if you’re away from home and it detects a leak anywhere in the house it automatically switches off your electrical mains. That can happen right now, and can significantly bring down the cost of your house insurance premiums.

"Just like with dashboard cameras, you show that you’re a careful driver and can then potentially bring down the cost of your car insurance. It’s a similar model."

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10 Dec 2018 

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