Many of us are familiar with the vision of the connected home, or “smart home,” where refrigerators remind us we’re low on milk and smartphones and tablets allow us to control our home’s lighting, air conditioning and security systems. As mobile continues to evolve and become more powerful, that vision of the future is becoming closer. But as the speakers at this month’s CABA Digital Home Forum in La Jolla, Calif. pointed out, mass-market demand has lagged. The reason? The wow factor is not quite there yet.
One reason: many early home automation systems were marketed as money-saving tools to trim utility bills. But cost cuts can be small. It’s hard to convince customers of the value of home energy management services when they only see marginal savings reported on an annual basis, said Roxy Podlogar of Tendril Networks.
That may change, especially as home automation gets less expensive. According to Qualcomm biz dev manager Jason Ellis, the cost of adding wireless monitoring to a home energy meter is less than $0.50/month, compared to $5/month just a few years ago.
In the meantime, how do you engage the public about the wonders of the connected home? One idea is to focus less on utilities and more on something that people find a bit more tangible: entertainment. Americans spend a lot of money on entertainment, making it a potential leverage point for the smart home industry.
Consider connected TVs. Consumers want to seamlessly view content across multiple screens, including smartphones, tablets, and computers. The connected TV is well on its way to joining the mix. And it might be the first connected home product that many consumers try. The trick is to keep it simple, easy to use, and affordable.