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William Ablondi: 5 consumer trends for the smart home

Smart Home World

Smart Home World

Guest post from William Ablondi, Director, Smart Home Strategies, Strategy Analytics

Strategy Analytics has recently been really digging into different types of features and capabilities common to the smart home marketplace, from controlling thermostats with a smart phone to observing what’s going on in the home with your mobile device.

Our findings have definitely reinforced the fact that people in the US and the major countries in Western Europe are very interested in monitoring what’s going on in their home. Call it ‘peace of mind.’ Just knowing that everything’s okay in the home is something that’s really interesting to consumers, interesting enough that they’re willing to pay for it.

1. Affordable security

In general there’s considerable interest in monitoring, with around 20-30% expressing willingness to pay. Now, what people are willing to pay is about half the going rate, so it’s a very elastic market.

The question is, will a provider offer a professionally monitored service for substantially less than the going rate than companies like (in the UK) Chubb or ADT?

We have talked with some companies and we believe that some are lining up to do just exactly that…

2. Elder monitoring

There’s another category of monitoring that we feel presents a significant opportunity and that’s elder monitoring. The target market is for those children of loved ones aged 75 and over that are not living with them and who want to make sure everything’s ok.

Technology is certainly present to do that and it doesn’t need to be tied to any medical situation or medical provider: it could simply be a matter of knowing that mom got up in the morning and is going about the normal routine, and if not of being notified and perhaps giving a call to check in.

3. Light bulb cameras/speakers

The smart bulb developments are a new development in the smart home market. For instance the combination products of a camera plus a light bulb. You have a light bulb, let’s say in a ceiling lamp, and you put a camera in there. You have the power in there, it’s very unobtrusive, it’s easy to install and uses Wi-Fi to communicate. Companies are beginning to offer these.

The other option is putting a speaker in a light bulb, where you can transmit your music from your smartphone via Bluetooth to the speaker and the light bulb can be controlled as well.

4. Pet monitoring

If we take a look at retailers, I think the way forward is to really emphasise convenience, comfort and peace of mind – and then to advertise use cases.

For instance, there may be pet owners that want to monitor their pets.

It might just be a matter of being able to watch the pet eat lunch. People are very tied to their pets. It may sound strange to someone who’s not, but it would really motivate the sale of many remotely monitored cameras. This could be an interesting add-on for pet stores to offer.

5. Smart front doors

Chamberlin (which is known for garage doors in the US) has introduced a light/camera combination that fixes to a light socket and would be on the front door of the home, and would be something that alerts people when someone was at the front door. It’s a motion sensor camera, and if someone comes up to the front door they would get an alert, and find out if it’s the postman or a cold caller or a friend or family member.

EchoStar is offering a box they call Sage, which plugs into any set-top box. They’re packaging that together with, again, a camera that would be fitted with a light socket in the front door. It’s got a flat cable, so you pull a cable through a shut window, and a Wi-Fi radio on the end of it so it can communicate with the box to show who’s at the front door.

The real hook is that they have made it so that if I was in London, it’s in New York, and something is triggered, I can call the emergency number in the US and it would look like I’m at my residence calling rather than in the UK.

William Ablondi is a confirmed keynote speaker at this year’s Smart Home World (23 – 24 June 2015, London)

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