Recently, Barclays undertook a piece of research to identify attitudes toward smart home technology across the UK. This research has been carried out twice in the past two years showing how public opinion towards smart homes has changed over the past 2 years.
The 2015 survey consisted of 4,370 adults and the 2017 survey was carried out with 2108 adults, and it has some surprising results.
In recent years companies have been heavily pushing smart technology. pushing smart technology heavily. Smart speakers and smart thermostats feature heavily on TV adverts, online advertising, and printed media. Mikko Hypponen, of F-Secure, believes the Internet of Things (IoT) is the next industrial revolution, and in the next twenty years, every single device will be smart.
However, even though big companies are pushing IoT heavily, the survey shows that in 2017 30% of the participants stated that they were not interested in installing smart home technology. In comparison, this figure was just 12% in 2015.
These figures are even more surprising considering that awareness has risen. Previously 33% did not understand what smart home or connected homes were. Whereas this year 22% state that they have heard of it but don’t really understand what it is.
It is not all doom and gloom for the smart home though. 48% of renters planning to buy would be interested in installing solar panels and fibre optic broadband in their future home. 35% would be interested in installing a smart home security system.
Considering the recent state of cyber security, it is probably no surprise that 63% of respondents were concerned about cyber security related to the smart home. This is a valid concern in our opinion – we have already blogged about how IoT devices can often be easily hacked.
The 2017 survey shows interest in specific technologies that correlate with what the technology companies are pushing. Fibre optic is number 1 and this is probably driven by the ever-increasing data usage people have, especially from streaming. The other stand out technologies people are interested in are Smart Thermostats, security and Intelligent Lighting.
In the UK, Smart Thermostats have probably been the most promoted with Nest, Hive, Tado and Heat Genius all pushing their products. Nest is owned by Google and Hive is backed by BT, so these are big companies pushing the technology. In our opinion, Smart Thermostats are the most logical investment into the smart home. They can save you a considerable amount of money depending on how you set them up, and the convenience of controlling your home heating as and when needed is fantastic.
In terms of home security, there has been a huge number of CCTV orientated products released in the past few years offering a wide range of features. We have found them an appealing technology to implement as they require less work setting up than a traditional CCTV system. Many cameras are WiFi enabled some, like Netgear Arlo, require no wires at all, using batteries that last weeks at a time. Nearly all the cameras use cloud storage with some offering on board storage via MicroSD, this means you don’t have to have a separate unit stored somewhere in the house to keep your recordings. All the cameras include apps allowing remote viewing and they generally all use some form of motion detection for intelligent alerts. In general, we love them and provide an affordable, easy way to implement some form of CCTV into your home.
Interestingly there seems to be a lack of mention of voice controlled speakers such as Alexa powered devices, or Google home. Due to their relatively new nature, we suspect this was left off the survey. Amazon and Google have been heavily pushing these devices, and the Echo has been a huge hit for Amazon.
There seems to be large regional differences too. The survey shows that 24% of people in Scotland understand what smart home technology means, whereas only 13% of people in the North East and South West understand.
Even though the results of the surveys do not paint an amazing picture for smart homes, I believe it is only a matter of time before the smart home is mainstream and eventually ubiquitous. I don’t necessarily agree with Mikko Hypponen that every device will be connected to the internet, but it is only a matter of time before all big priced items are. Nearly all modern TVs are smart connected, and I think sooner or later it will be standard to fit a smart thermostat with any new installation. Even your Gas and Electricity will be controlled by a smart meter, with government legislation requiring smart meters be standard by the end of 2020.
In the meantime, it seems like in the near future Smart Home technology will carry on being used primarily by tech enthusiasts, with mainstream adoption taking a little longer. Regardless of the slow uptake, smart homes are here to stay.