Smart home will grow by stealth, says Futuresource report

The smart home is poised to emerge by stealth, as more consumers who install their first device will be keen to add more, according to research by analyst Futuresource Consulting.

A new report, Smart Home Consumer Study, which surveyed more than 4,000 consumers in France, Germany, the UK and the USA, showed that almost one in three consumers currently live in homes where at least one smart home device had been installed

According to the study, audio and video content is often the first step into automation in the home.

Two out of three respondents said they considered music and other audio/video content to be important in the smart home.

Virtual personal assistant (VPA) speakers will be another important driver of the smart home, Futuresource said.

Although they are mainly used for music streaming, a “substantial” number of respondents are using VPA speakers to control other aspects of the home, such as heating and lighting.

“Smart lighting and smart thermostats are among the most popular smart home devices and are common first steps into the smart home,” said Filipe Oliveira (pictured), analyst at Futuresource Consulting.

“However, it is home security that more respondents report as the first smart home device that they have installed. Products that fall under climate control are growing, but our survey revealed that this is a fragmented category with relatively low levels of brand recognition – a challenge to manufacturers in this field.”

Respondents also said they were more open to the idea of buying a smart appliance the next time they need to replace their washing machine or refrigerator.

However, Futuresource argued that a hindrance to smart appliance expansion would be declining consumer interest in some smart appliance features.

“Appliance manufacturers will need to find ways to stimulate consumer interest again. Priority should be given to features where the benefits are clear, preferably those that increase safety or allow for money to be saved,” said Mr Oliveira.

“The results provide evidence that the smart home can grow by stealth as users who installed one device are more likely to want to automate their homes further. Across all segments, 30 per cent of consumers expect to control more of their homes wirelessly in the near future. However, the number is substantially higher among those who already own at least one smart home device, with 89 per cent of advanced users expecting to control more of their homes wirelessly in the next six to 12 months.”

Over 4,000 respondents were surveyed in the UK, France, Germany and USA. The USA showed the highest smart home penetration – 38 per cent of respondents claimed to be living in a home with at least one smart home device installed. In Germany, respondents seemed more resistant to the idea of adopting smart home devices, as only one in five had installed at least one smart home device in their home.

  • For more trends from Futuresource, see our July/August issue of ERT, which will be a smart home special.