For consumers, the idea of a smart home is fairly simple. They just need to purchase smart devices, such as thermostats, televisions or appliances, and they’ll all magically work together to create a personalized, connected home. Voila.
Unfortunately, there remains a significant gap between rhetoric and reality.
Barriers to Connecting the Smart Home
Device compatibility/interoperability (68%), cost (77%) and security (74%) are significant barriers to smart home adoption, according to the CTA’s “Consumer Purchase Journey: Smart Home Device” report released in February 2017.
Let’s first look at cost. Research from Assurant shows great interest in purchasing specific smart home devices, such as smart appliances (25%) and smart thermostats (24%). However, consumer demand for comprehensive smart technology may take time due in part to costs. To help address this barrier, consumers need flexible financing solutions including equipment installment plans and leasing options to enable them to build and support their dream smart home.
According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of a home automation system typically ranges from $404 to $1,830, with a national average of $1,045. Not surprisingly, the cost of devices and professional installations can quickly become prohibitive for a median U.S. household income just under $60,000.
Privacy & Security
Turning to privacy, hacking and cyber security, market estimates show, consumers are poised to put their money where their fears are. The overall global revenue of the smart home security market is forecast to reach $18 billion dollars in 2020, up from $10 billion this year, according to Statista.
Cases of hacking home systems, though still infrequent, are also negatively impacting purchase intent. To assuage consumers, education related to digital ID protection, data management and privacy are critical.
For example, despite the verified increase in data protection it provides, 75 percent of consumers fail to use a VPN to protect their Wi-Fi connection, according to a 2017 study conducted by Symantec.
Compatibility and interoperability
Compatibility and interoperability are also major barriers. In other words, how can smart devices—purchased based on a wide range of needs, costs and brand attraction—work together in unison? Additionally, what should be the centerpiece of the smart home system? Amazon Echo? Google Home? Siri?
Nearly 75 percent of consumers planning to buy smart home devices value interoperability with other products in their home, according to a report released earlier this year by international firm Parks Associates.
Consumers are looking to the marketplace to integrate all these disparate devices into a unified—and user-friendly—system. The onus is on smart home-affiliated companies to provide services assisting consumers with installation, integration and troubleshooting to optimize all the connected devices in the home.
Once these issues are resolved, then and only then will the magical smart home become a reality.