Smart homes gain interest but concerns remain

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New research has revealed there is a growing interest in smart homes from consumers, but a number of concerns may be holding back uptake

An in-depth study into the interoperability of products in the home has found an appetite for smart home technology, but has highlighted some concerns.

The research, conducted by Mindshare in association with SharpEnd, is the first of its kind to study connected products in the home and analyse the opportunities it offers to household brands.

The researchers built ten connected product and packaging prototypes. Five households then trialled these over a two week period. This was paired with a survey examining the attitude of 1,000 smartphone users towards the Internet of Things and connected packaging.

A total of 64 per cent responded to say they had interest in seeing everyday objects connected, while 62 per cent of respondents would be interested in a product that alerts you or reorders itself when it is about to run out. Some 58 per cent said they would like a product that reminds you when it’s about to hit its expiry date.

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Furthermore, 62 per cent said they would be happy for connected products to collect data if they get something in return. However, 76 per cent expressed concerns about when and how products interact with a user and said they wanted complete control. Only 35 per cent said they would like “a virtual assistant to manage all of the interactions with products for me”.

Jeremy Pounder, Futures Director at Mindshare commented: “With the number of connected products in existence (excluding smartphones and computers) set to increase from 5 billion today to 21 billion by 2020, now is the time for brands to begin to experiment.

“The brands and marketers that have prepared for the advent of connected packaging and fully considered the implications for their businesses will be in the prime position to capitalise on the opportunity.”

Recent research from Berg Insights reported the number of smart homes across Europe and North America reached 17.9m in 2015. This represents a 56 per cent growth year-on-year.  However, the European market remains some two to three years behind North America in relations to market maturity and up take. In the next five years it is expected the number of smart homes across Europe will reach 44.9 million, making up 20 per cent of all households.

Berg Insight’s senior analyst Johan Svanberg said: “There is no doubt that regular consumers in the future will own and operate a wide range of connected objects in their homes, from connected home appliances and luminaires to thermostats and security devices.”

He added: “The smart home market is still in its infancy and many smart home ecosystems are underdeveloped and products are often complicated to use. Attractive use cases, interoperable devices and well-implemented user interfaces are needed in order to accelerate the market.”

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