From entertainment systems and washing machines in our homes to transport technologies and environmental control outside of them, connected devices open up a world of new possibilities. Gartner not only predicts the average affluent family home to carry over 500 hundred connected devices by 2022, it also highlights a couple of areas where opportunities for innovation might arise for business.
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Nick Jones, vice president and analyst at Gartner, refers to smart devices as those which have gained some level of sensing and intelligence combined with the ability to communicate.
Gartner suggests that although a mature smart home won’t exist until the 2020 to 2025 time frame, smart domestic products are already being manufactured and the first digital business opportunities they enable have already emerged.
Gartner points to these five areas where smart homes might create opportunities in the near future:
- New products and features — From improving usability with the addition of gesture or voice control to updating or enhancing a product’s features throughout its life span, smart products have the potential to considerably improve existing products.
- Revenue and cost-saving opportunities — Examples range from the automatic replenishment of consumables in domestic products (e.g., coffee capsules, water filters and vacuum cleaner dust bags) to the interception of purchase and replacement decisions.
- New business models — Examples include new combinations of products and services that threaten traditional companies. For example, a service provider could integrate information from low-cost sensors combined with other smart products such as smart locks and domestic sensors to create new cloud-based home monitoring and security services that undercut traditional burglar alarms.
- Social and government initiatives — In some countries governments will see the increasing intelligence of domestic technology as a way to influence consumer behaviour or improve the delivery of services to citizens. For example, sensors and smart products could enable differential taxation; tax on water used for washing could be lower than taxes on water used to irrigate the garden. Another example might be smart trash cans that report when they’re full and need collecting.
- Analysing and monetising information — Virtually all smart domestic objects will contain some type of sensor, and some will contain many sensors. Collecting, analysing and monetising the information collected by smart products will be central to many IoT-based digital business models.
Not everything is hunky-dory however. Consumers are likely to have concerns over data usage, security and privacy. Gartner argues that product developers should thus consider external audits of their information usage.
“Devices in the smart home will demand connectivity; some will demand high reliability as they’ll be performing vital functions such as health monitoring, so homes will require reliable high-speed internet connections,” concludes Jones. “If these connections fail, many domestic devices might be forced to operate in, at best, a degraded manner. If homes become as dependent on good connectivity as businesses they will need fallback systems.”
Image: sarah faulwetter via Flickr