Editor's Note: Smart Home Trends

Nov. 10, 2015
Research in the connected home space is producing some interesting results that dealers can leverage

As one of the flashiest and most newsworthy segments of the security market, I get a lot of material focused on the connected home. Most of it is research on consumer preferences — valuable material for alarm dealers who are attempting to add smart home products to their offering and sales pitches.

Here are a few interesting smart home nuggets that have crossed my desk in recent weeks:

The Achilles’ Heel of DIY?

When it comes to smart home products, there are always lots of bells and whistles, but streamlined devices that consumers can look at on a shelf and have no idea what they do are hurting the connected home market —particularly when it comes to DIY solutions.

According to a Juniper Research whitepaper: “In a physical retail store, merely placing Smart Home products on the shelves — even in their own aisle — presents a problem for consumers (and therefore retailers): What does the product do? How does it work? What is a Smart Home?”

To me, this seems like a sweet spot for alarm dealers, who can actually demonstrate these products in a customer’s home. Nothing beats actually seeing something in action for yourself, after all.

Leveraging Use Cases

According to a recent study commissioned by Vivint and conducted by NextMarket Insights, much of the potential of the smart home market remains unfulfilled because vendors, by and large, have failed to tap into some of the most relevant use cases for these systems. Specifically, the study looked at three particular use cases for smart home technology — eldercare, pet care and childcare — all of which have been somewhat underserved and therefore hold a great amount of potential to drive greater mass market adoption moving forward.

“Thinking about products in a way in which consumers will use them and considering all of the scenarios that will confront them over the lifetime of a product is really important,” analyst Michael Wolf said. “I think that is starting to become apparent to many companies.”

This, of course, dovetails nicely with the demo angle — people want to see how this technology is actually going to impact their lives before they make an investment. It goes beyond the vendors and manufacturers of the products to the dealers who are actually selling and installing them.  

Cost Still a Factor

Mass adoption of connected home products by consumers will be achieved only when the cost-benefit ratio is perceived to have been met, the Juniper whitepaper says. This will require further reductions in price from today’s level for service delivery, while CE devices now connectable by default will help add to the potential value of the IoT inside the home.

Supporting this, a survey from Honeywell found that while nearly 90 percent of Americans have a desire to automate their homes, 66 percent say cost is holding them back from adding more connected features into their homes. Additionally, fewer than 2 in 5 Americans (39 percent) that already have smart thermostats use them to adjust their homes’ temperatures when traveling.

Security Must be Considered

“As smart technology becomes more prevalent in our homes, it is important that we all take precautions to protect our data and privacy,” warns National Association of Realtors (NAR) President Chris Polychron. In response, the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) and the NAR recently partnered to create a checklist that offers guidance to help home buyers, renters and sellers manage the privacy and security of their smart homes and devices — obviously something alarm dealers can leverage as well.

“Although we enjoy the benefits of a connected lifestyle, we must not lose sight of the risks a smart home may pose to our privacy and physical safety.  As evidenced by some privacy practices and recent vulnerabilities with smart cars, TVs and baby monitors, consumers need to be aware of and manage smart devices in their homes,” says Craig Spiezle, OTA President and Executive Director. “Following these recommendations will help consumers better protect their privacy and identity and prevent their personal data from falling into the hands of cybercriminals and being sold to the highest bidder.”

Check out the list at https://otalliance.org/smarthome.

Paul Rothman is Editor in Chief of Security Dealer & Integrator (SD&I) magazine (www.secdealer.com).

About the Author

Paul Rothman | Editor-in-Chief/Security Business

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Business magazine. Email him your comments and questions at [email protected]. Access the current issue, full archives and apply for a free subscription at www.securitybusinessmag.com.