Smart homes are increasing in popularity and public awareness constantly. It seems like every day, a shiny new piece of smart tech makes its way into the economy. Figuring out how we feel about it seems to involve a lot of factors. Enter Finn Partners. Their recent study revealed some interesting trends; not the least of which is that regarding smart homes, some combination of cost, security, and peace of mind are the primary concerns, with wealthy Americans ranking home security as the most important thing to automate.
“(Consumers) want to feel in control of their lives… so it isn’t surprising,” says Sabrina Horn. A managing partner in the U.S.-based technology practice, Horn was bullish on the need for communication in the still-young field. “Emotion plays an important role (in adapting smart homes),” said Horn, noting that the firm sees peace of mind as a top motivator
At The Crossroads
In-home automation stands at a fascinating crossroads between its history and future. Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and other smart home assistants enjoy widespread adoption. Roomba have led the way in smart tools for the home, and driverless cars are making their way into the market at increasingly rapid rates.
Just ten years ago, this would have looked like science fiction. But a 2014 Consumer Electronics Association (and Park Associates) study shows that as recently as three years ago, only 33% of Americans were confident that when someone said that they have a smart-home, they knew what it meant – in the Finn partners survey, published in May of 2017, that number has risen to 86%.
Even so, there’s still no shortage of trepidation. While smart home awareness, public understanding, and adoption of smart devices are all on a measurable upswing, they’re accompanied by steadily rising levels of consumer anxiety, primarily concerned with the security of their smart devices – and their potential vulnerability.
Simply put, people want to feel a sense of control in their lives. But – interestingly enough – the way that these fears manifest is highly dependent on what the individual feels control of in the rest of their lives, and this interacts directly with their feelings regarding smart homes.
Concerns Regarding Nascent Technology Persist
And those feelings can be significantly mixed. 3 out of every 10 respondents replied that they want robots doing their household chores, while 74% of Americans were either “moderately” or “extremely excited” regarding the concept of driverless cars, with 24% of surveyed Americans under the age of 45 feeling “extremely excited” regarding the prospect, though it’s not all roses – 42% of respondents cite a loss of control as their primary concern with driverless cars.
Continuing the topic of concerns, 59% of respondents cited cost as the primary barrier to adapting smart home tech, while 20% of respondents cited privacy concerns as an issue, with younger consumers (those aged under 45) showing greater concern than older respondents.
Acceptance On The Rise
Trepidation notwithstanding, excitement and acceptance of smart technology are steadily trending upwards as time rolls on. When it comes to personal medical information – a historically thorny subject – fully 70% of consumers were interested in allowing their doctors to monitor their health remotely, with younger Americans proving increasingly accepting.
Of the groups most willing to share their information in this fashion, 47% of adults aged 18-24 led the pack, followed by 44% of individuals who have children under the age of 18, 43% of African-Americans, and 43% of Hispanic-Americans.
Smart home tech is increasingly seen as valuable – though precisely how still varies across demographics. As stated earlier, wealthier Americans are more likely to consider home security as their top priority, while younger Americans are more likely to indicate chores as a matter of significant interest, and men are significantly more likely to cite the overall home environment as a priority than women, or individuals with non-traditional gender identities.
Ultimately, peace of mind remains the top motivating factor in whether or not individuals are willing to, or intend to adopt their own smart home.
Smart Homes Aren’t Just The Future – They’re Right Now
Robots rising up and taking over the world is a popular motif in science fiction, but it doesn’t seem to be a concern among respondents. Fully 77% of consumers think that in 20 years, it’ll be absolutely normal to have a robot in their home – so they’re either not worried about the possibility, or are happy to welcome their new robot overlords.
One thing is for certain, though – Americans are increasingly accepting of smart home tech, though the process – like any acceptance of cultural change – isn’t always smooth, though it seems inevitable.