IoT is one of the more popular topics in the world of technology, but for the vast majority of the consumer world it isn’t anything more than science fiction.
Aside from a couple of smart watches here and there, the odd talking fridge or Nest device, the smart home is a largely untouched market. Which is worrying as this is the most direct touch point to the consumer. For IoT to be real and trusted by the day-to-day consumer, it has to be experienced, something the industry is not very good at currently.
But what is holding back the smart home industry? For Intel’s Scott Kovesdy there are five areas; performance, coverage, simplicity, interconnectivity and security. These are consumer pain points. These are the areas which need to be corrected.
From a security perspective, making the devices secure is paramount, especially at a time when the headlines are filled with stories of data breaches and leaks. No system will ever be 100% secure, but there does not seem to be the trust in the vendors currently for consumers to allow such technologies into their home and the more intimate areas of their lives.
Performance is another area but this is primarily from a broadband perspective. Although the devices do not deliver enough functionality, the broadband requirements to make everything work seamlessly is too high. The performance levels delivered into the home do not match the demands of a fully functioning smart home environment.
This is a challenge which will have to be addressed very quickly as the problem will grow exponentially. While most homes currently have around a dozen connected devices, this number will grow very quickly over the next couple of years. Some estimates put the number of connected devices beyond 50 per household in as little as five years. This increase in data will put substantial strain on the network, but the millennials are not solely to blame (this time). Devices which were only devices before will begin to talk and generating data themselves. It’s a very real problem which the industry doesn’t have an answer for currently.
According to Kovesdy most homes are in need of their own digital transformation as it would appear the buzzword is not limited to the world of enterprise. Most homes are restricted to a single access point to the big world of broadband, a simple router. For the smart home to be an effective proposition, coverage needs to be 100%, or as close to 100%, throughout the home. With a single access point to connectivity, this is a tall task.
Another area which needs to be considered is simplicity. There is a rule which is applicable to every aspect of life, Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS), for anything to succeed. Currently the technology is not simple enough for the general consumer to make it a reality. Not everyone in the world is an IT expert; Keep It Simple Stupid.
Finally, for the smart home to be a reality personalization is key. Kovesdy highlighted the virtual personal assistant is the feature which most people could relate when considering the smart home, but a vast amount of information is required for a personal assistant to be effective for a specific individual. Currently there is little standardization between the device manufacturers and software houses to allow for this information to be collated in a single place and actioned. The practise of advanced data analytics, paramount to the success of any IoT activity, is impossible without such standardization.
In short, the potential of the smart home is huge. Advances in voice technologies used to activate and engage the smart home have reinvigorated the segment, and the investment behind the technology, are support the realization of the smart home, but there is still a long way to go. A smart home should simplify life for the consumer, providing peace of mind and security, but there are still too many pain points.
Although the smart home has the potential to earn billions for the technology world, there is still a substantial amount of work before this is a reality.