Although sales of smart home devices are ramping up, the daunting prospect of compatible platform integration, or interoperability, is still scaring off prospective consumers.
A recent industry research report published by the international firm Parks Associates states, “This demand for interoperability is stronger than brand loyalty, as less than 60 percent of smart home shoppers consider it important that their future purchases be the same brand as their current products.” Currently, the market is fragmented. This fragmentation translates into a clunky path to home automation, with an increased potential for bugs and glitches.
According to an article published by Punchcut, an innovation company specializing in connected services across devices, “We heard over and over again frustrations around device integration throughout the home. Most users have been buying one-off smart products from disparate manufacturers that solve very specific home automation needs, however, they are unable to interoperate multiple devices on one holistic ecosystem. Not one single platform achieves this. Proprietary systems are limiting while disorganized protocols and formats create barriers.” This adds complexity, which can discourage market entry when combined with the investment entailed for smart home devices.
Consumers don’t always comprehend the value of the connected home. When that disconnect is paired with a hefty price tag, it leads to a hesitation to purchase. A survey by ACEEE found that “five out of nine program administrators said they believe that technology cost is the biggest barrier to adoption. The slow uptake of residential smart window coverings is certainly a case in point.”
Even those go-getters who love a tech challenge can quickly become overwhelmed by installing an integrated smart home system. It can take a lot of time to figure out how to “save time” through automation—which poses a major deterrent to buy-in. Hiring professionals to install a smart home system simplifies the process, but it also bumps up the cost significantly. Because mainstream awareness is still minimal, many people simply don’t know what installation should cost and whether it’s a worthwhile investment.
After the initial excitement of a home with internet connectivity comes its shadow—the implicit threat of lapses in cybersecurity. Many connected devices record personal conversations and track personal details, such as the home’s address and occupant information as well as vacancy and occupancy patterns. If that information fell into the wrong hands, it could make homes vulnerable to break-ins or data hacks. The ACEEE report cites the sobering statistic that “64 percent of Americans have already experienced a major personal data breach in their lifetime.”
The lack of compatibility across connected devices poses a huge obstacle to smartening the home. In order to achieve peak intelligence, all home devices must connect to and communicate with one other. Unfortunately, proprietary systems still don’t collaborate effectively, making connectivity a headache and disincentivizing the typical homeowner who seeks an easy way to connect his or her devices.
Although many of us take high-speed Internet connections for granted, good internet service can be unpredictable in rural areas. Without it, the smart home concept is crippled. According to a 2016 census report, 19 percent of all US households do not have broadband Internet service.
Despite barriers to adoption, the smart home technology movement—and market—is rapidly growing. According to Value Walk, “Five years ago, just 13 percent of American households had some sort of smart technology integrated into their homes. In 2019, it’s anticipated that at least 38 percent of American households will have entered the market.”
If you haven’t already begun your journey towards a smart home, you likely will in the coming years. And you’ll undoubtedly have questions along the way. To help you get started, we’ve compiled an all-you-need-to-know guide to the connected home of the future: The Age of the Smart Home.