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Why the UK may not be ready for the Internet of Things

According to a new survey, UK consumers increasingly fear the pace of change they face and are particularly cynical about the need for connected "Internet of Things" devices.

According to the survey of over 1,600 consumers by UK-based audit and accounting specialist KPMG, more than half of people (58 per cent) resent the idea that computers seem to run their lives. Also, 70 per cent suggest that with the marketplace flooded by inter-connected devices, it's too easy for things to go wrong.

The survey reveals a hankering for a return to "simple" technology. Many, for example, mainly want their phone just to make calls (54 per cent) and the majority think that more advanced internet-based products, such as smart fridges which self-order food or cookers reminding owners about recipes, aren't needed.

Read more: Who will control the new world of the Internet of Things?

Asked about the reasons for their worries, respondents cited difficulties in keeping personal information private, with 56 per cent of those polled concerned about a "Big Brother" effect occurring as a result of internet-enabled products and the pace at which they are being produced and implemented. In a work environment, more than a third (36 per cent) fear that employers are monitoring their every action.

Wil Rockall, a director in KPMG's cyber security practice, says, "It is clear that consumers are struggling with a desire to use connected devices as a route towards an easier life, but they remain wary of the rise of the machine. They still support innovation, recognising that in the right environment having the latest technology is key - nearly 60 per cent acknowledge that technology makes us more effective at our job."

Indeed, respondents are quick to recognise that inter-connected devices can bring some benefits, with 48 per cent welcoming the idea that smart meters can save energy and money, for example. Four in 10 also suggest that health monitors which issue warnings about impending illness are a good idea and 46 per cent want to use security systems to monitor their property whilst away from home.

"Security and privacy are high on the list of worries for the consumer, with 62 per cent believing that there is insufficient concern about it," adds Mark Thompson, a senior manager in KPMG's cyber security practice. "The fact remains that, where once an Englishman's home was considered to be his castle, the advent of the Internet of Things means that fortress walls can be breached more easily.

There are also so many opportunities for the latest technologies to provide value and enhance our lives but we are failing to take advantage of them and we will continue in that vein until consumers can be convinced that always-connected devices are safe and worthwhile."