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Today’s smart home is growing up – Bring on the awkward teenage years

2015 was an exciting year for the smart home industry as a whole. CNET built its own smart home, Amazon announced multiple new devices giving a peak into their new strategy and Apple’s Siri stepped into a new role with smart home integration.

We started to gain consumer appeal, but it’s still not quite at the level of true mass adoption. That’s where 2016 comes in.

2016 has only just started and the industry has already revealed innovations that attempt to appeal to the mass consumer, like Samsung’s smart fridge equipped with cameras to make grocery shopping easier and light bulbs that can trick intruders to think you are home.

Consumers are starting to become more educated on, and interested in, the possibilities of connected home technology. In fact, our 2015 State of the Smart Home Report found millennials (79 per cent) are leading the pack in excitement around smart home technology, followed by parents (76 per cent). What’s more, 50 per cent of the overall population is excited about the technology. Intent to purchase is quickly following suit, with 50 per cent of people saying they plan to buy at least one smart home product in the next year (aka 2016). As millennials continue to gain purchasing power, we anticipate demand to rise.

So, what does this mean for the industry ahead? According to a recent report, the smart home market is expected to be worth $58.68 billion by 2020. Due to the adoption of mobile in the smart home, increased consumer awareness, improved user experience and dramatic cost reductions, the market is ready to explode. With major players like Google, Apple, Amazon, Dell and Samsung jumping into the market, consumers are more enticed to learn about the endless possibilities this technology provides.

Worth noting, the “cool factor” hasn’t appealed to consumers – rather, they want devices that are easy-to-use and solve every day problems. According to a study by Bluetooth Special Interest Group, simplicity is paramount, with 54 per cent of respondents expressing a device should be straightforward to use, and 41 per cent believing it should be easy to set up. Smart home devices should help solve real issues, from protecting homes from burglars (like this amazing story of a Piper customer) to saving on electricity bills, consumers want products that can be functional right away.

Smart home device designs are getting sleeker and more intuitive and all signs point toward this trend continuing to evolve. Think back to the smartphone. What once started as a bulky suitcase is now the size of your palm or worn on your wrist. The smart home market can be seen as similar to the evolution of the smartphone.

In order for continued growth for the smart home, both consumers and manufacturers need to keep in mind how the smart home can make consumers’ lives easier. If manufacturers build devices to meet these needs and consumers adapt these technologies into their everyday lives, the smart home will no longer be a thing of the future.

Here are four things the 2015 State of the Smart Home Report found as it relates to consumer adoption and the possibilities for the smart home:

  • Peace-of-Mind is still #1 in driving mass market adoption: Nine out of ten consumers say home security remains one of the top reasons to purchase and use a smart home system. In fact, 69 per cent of people said they would be hesitant to purchase a smart home system that didn’t include security and 35 per cent said they absolutely wouldn’t consider it.
  • Seeing is believing: The likelihood to purchase a smart home device increased on average by 93 per cent among those who know someone with a smart home.
  • Simplicity will prevail: Overall, consumers say they are ripe to adopt the first wave of home automation and expressed the highest levels of interest in having connected thermostats, cameras, lights and door locks.
  • Elder care is an underutilised opportunity: Fifty per cent of respondents believe they would sleep better at night if their parents or grandparents had smart home technology, a number that is significantly higher among those aged 25-34 (72 per cent) and those who identified themselves as a parent (74 per cent).

The possibilities for smart home technology and the benefits it provides are endless. It is here to make consumers’ lives easier so they can put their focus towards things that can’t be automated, like spending time with family.

All we need to drive this forward is simplicity and consumer education as industry jargon and technical terms aren’t what is going to drive mass adoption.

Letha McLaren, CMO of Icontrol Networks

Photo Credit: bergserg/ Shutterstock