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Smart home dream spells exciting times for all

Smart home technologies are on track to have a greater impact than wearables and with the revolution now in plain sight, the market remains wide open

The inevitable realisation of the smart home dream will present exciting new opportunities for businesses of all types and sizes, not just the global tech giants specialising in sensors and connectivity, according to GfK.

In its latest report, the market research group looks at the Internet of Things’ growing presence in domestic environments, and discusses how it could impact the lives of residents and businesses.

First and foremost, the study shows just how much pace this shift towards next-generation living spaces is picking up. After interviewing more than 7,000 adults across Europe, Asia, South America and the US, researchers found than nine-in-ten people (91%) are familiar with the term “smart home”.

Perhaps more telling, though, is the fact that almost half of those questioned think the advent of the connected home will have a bigger impact on their lives than wearable tech. That’s a big deal when you consider how much firms like Google and Microsoft have invested in wearables up to this point.

Excitement around the IoT’s potential in the home has been building in tech circles for some time, but the results of GfK’s study suggest the anticipation could be more widespread than first thought. When the respondents were asked who they trust to deliver the smart home vision, no one brand came out on top – be it a technology provider, retailer or telecoms firm.

What’s more, the survey revealed security, energy and entertainment as the smart home benefits consumers are most excited about, suggesting organisations in all of these sectors have big opportunities to look forward to. For retailers, manufacturers, telecoms companies and energy providers in particular, good news also comes in the fact that two-thirds of those asked claim to have some understanding of smart homes, and what the term means.

The fact that respondents failed highlight any one specific brand as being most responsible for making the smart home dream a reality suggests the concept’s future success will rely heavily on companies forging partnerships and working towards common goals. With 37% of those asked highlighting cost as a potential obstacle, however, competition still has a big part to play.

The study’s director, Ranj Dale, agrees and expects the necessary equipment to become more accessible over time. “As with any new technology, high cost is often a barrier to adoption at the beginning. At the moment many of the smart products are expensive – for instance a smart washing machine is about three times as expensive as a standard one. However, as more manufacturers enter the market, prices will drop and people will be able to enjoy the benefits,” he said.

Adding to this, independent investment advisor Vanessa Folkesson, also former sustainability innovation manager of furniture giant IKEA, commented: "No one can do it all. What we see from GfK's latest study is that it is very important for big global brands and smart home innovators to open up the possibility to work together so we can create a better home.”

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