During the Black Friday sales, it was clear that both Amazon and Google are determined to get consumers to adopt their voice assistant technologies. Both companies offered deep discounts on their own products with Amazon selling the Echo Dot for less than half price at £19.99, or the newly launched Echo 2nd generation with £30 off. Google recently launched their Home Hub then offered a 33% discount during the Black Friday period making it just £100.

Similarly, other Smart Home devices have been aggressively promoted this year, with some of the most popular Black Friday products being smart thermostats, video doorbells, smart plug sockets and smart lighting.

A new survey from Mintel reveals that the Smart Home is finally becoming mainstream with 38% of consumers reporingt an interest in buying a smart home security system.

It is expected that during 2019 consumers will spend £10.8 billion on smart home technology and Millennials are most likely to invest in this technology 52% of 18-34-year-olds have an interest in smart home products, compared to just 22% of those aged 55+.

At the moment it is believed the market penetration for smart voice-controlled speakers is at 13% which is an impressive number for a relatively young piece of technology and perhaps indicative of how aggressive and effective the advertising is by Amazon and Google.

In other smart home sectors, the market has grown significantly too with 12.6% of people currently owning smart home security and 10.4% owning a smart doorbell.

Even though it looks like we are well on the way to everyone having a smart connected home, there is still a lot of uncertainty around it. 50% of consumers believe being connected to the internet makes smart security systems less secure. 59% worry that Big Brother is listening, saying always-on (always listening for the wake word) speakers in the home makes them uneasy.

These concerns are reflected somewhat in recent device launches, with many of the new Smart Displays having hardware buttons to switch off the camera or microphone. In the case of the Gooogle Home Hub, they omitted a camera altogether.

Smart Home Security has a lot of interest from consumers with 33% of people being interested in investing in security cameras such as Arlo, Ring, or Blink which allows them to access feeds and get alerts on their phone. 30% of people are also interested in a smart security alarm, however, in the UK there are not many companies offering an effective solution, with the Yale Smart Home Alarm being the current best option.

Privacy and security are valid concerns when it comes to connected devices there are news reports almost daily about major data breaches or vulnerabilities found in devices.

Recently it has been revealed VTech tablets suffer a software flaw that could allow hackers to remotely take control of the device and snoop on its users. These tablets are designed specifically for children to use. A few years ago a massive hacked turned millions of baby cams and cheap security cameras into a botnet that allowed hackers to take down websites using a DDOS attack where the devices all connect to services at the same time overloading its servers.

Similarly in the last week along we have seen Marriott International have a data breach exposing data of up to 500 million people. According to Marriott, the hackers accessed people’s names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, dates of birth, gender, Starwood loyalty program account information, and reservation information.

On Monday (03/12/18) Quora, the question and answer site has had a similar breach with 100 million users exposed.

Most of these issues can be avoided by using some common sense. Any services you sign up to should have its own unique and strong password, you should try and stick to established brands such as Google and Amazon, avoiding these cheap no name companies. You should always keep your software up to date.

A new video series from Legal & General Home Insurance has been released to introduce consumers to smart home technology, and the various ways they can help to secure our homes and improve our lives.

The new videos are presented by Ex-Gadget Show host Suzi Perry walks viewers through various apps and devices, including fire and water damage protectors, smart doorbells and even the ability to sync your oven timer to the lights in your home.

The four-part series is available to watch in full now:
PART 1: Is a Smart Home a more Secure Home? 
PART 2: Making Smart Tech even Smarter
PART 3: Fire and Water Damage
PART 4: While you’re Away