The smart home industry has enjoyed tremendous growth over the past three or four years, yet it still hasn’t realized its full potential. Friction abounds and there are a number of fundamental challenges holding consumers back from fully investing. Can these issues be overcome?
5 Challenges That Must be Addressed
By 2020, research shows that the smart house market will reach $40 billion in the United States alone. Yet despite this, there’s still untapped potential due to five pressing challenges. Until dealt with, this market will continue to be a mere shadow of what it could be. Let’s explore in further detail:
1. The “Creepy” Factor
In theory, smart technology is appealing. There’s something interesting about being able to control and track various aspects of your life. But there’s also something a bit creepy about this level of insight.
“When you start to track water usage you suddenly realize how often your spouse flushes the toilet or does laundry,” says Genevieve Bell, director of corporate sensing and insights at Intel’s corporate strategy group. “There’s something faintly creepy about [people’s] houses knowing things about them.”
It’s up to tech companies to put safeguards in place to assure consumers their privacy is being respected. It’s also a good idea to give homeowners control over what information is accessible. This allows each individual to manipulate how much information they have on hand.
2. Landlord vs. Tenant
The maturation of the smart home industry is having a trickle-down effect. These days, it’s not just homeowners who are putting smart technology into their homes. Real estate investors and landlords are integrating advanced features into their properties, as well. But this latter development is laced with friction and uncertainty.
“As more properties come pre-equipped with smart technology, landlords and their tenants need to set clear boundaries about how these devices will be used and who controls them,” Green Residential mentions. “In particular, tenants have expressed anxiety that landlords could use these tools maliciously or as a means of harassment, and proposals to equip some larger properties with smart home tools have been met with protestations.”
In order for smart home tech to become a mainstay in rental properties, there must be some safety nets in place. Anything with a camera or voice-recording device is not ideal. Things like smart thermostats, on the other hand, add value for both parties. Focusing on technologies like this is the way to go.
There’s too much fragmentation in the smart home space. Most homeowners won’t go through the trouble of downloading seven different apps to control the technologies in their homes. Instead, they want computability and interconnectivity. There is some progress in this area, but there’s still much to be done.
4. Security Vulnerabilities
Security issues are plentiful. And as smart home technology becomes more interconnected, the need for better protection will only increase. For example, consider all of the things a smart light bulb knows about you:
- It knows when you’re home versus when you’re away.
- It knows when you’re in a certain location.
- It knows your daily habits and routines.
These don’t seem like major issues, but it becomes problematic when the information ends up in the wrong hands. Unfortunately, this happens more often than most people realize.
5. High Cost
The price point on most smart home technology is still too stiff for mass adoption. While the upper end of the market is fine making an investment, the majority of the market is looking for something more cost-effective.
However, we are seeing some positive movement in this regard. Amazon and Google, for example, have really pushed their voice-activated virtual assistants over the past 18 months. And at a price point under $30, this has allowed millions to experience a little piece of the smart home pie. As more technologies become affordable, adoption rates will increase.
The Future of the Smart Home
The smart home industry is a force to be reckoned with. Yet despite this, there’s still a lot of untapped potential. Tech companies must work together to address these five challenges. Over time, a proactive approach to these points of friction will benefit everyone – including homeowners, landlords, renters, business owners, retailers, and the entire consumer marketplace as a whole.