I don’t live in a smart home; I live in a very dumb one. Although it has 100-megabit internet connectivity both up and down at flat rate, most of the time that fabulous capacity is just idly sitting there. We play movies and games of course, but the home itself does nothing with the connectivity, because it is dumb.
And it just got dumb beyond help.
I had signed up for a smart home solution from my electricity provider. There was a lot of paperwork and when the smart stuff finally arrived months later, it was just a reader for my electricity meter and a smart plug for a wall electricity outlet. The smart plug can monitor how much of my total electricity is consumed by whatever I connect into that one plug.
After all the paperwork and the long wait, I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed. This would leave the other 30 or so wall outlets as dumb as ever before.
To complicate things, the reader seemed not to fit under the old steel casing covering my electricity meter. But if I didn’t install and activate by a certain date, I would no longer be allowed entry to that hallowed group of people who live in smart homes.
That fateful date is today, and here I am with boxes of smart equipment still unopened; standing with a slightly dumb frown on my face, in my now irrevocably dumb home.
I am almost expecting a market researcher to come knocking and ask me to participate in Ericsson ConsumerLab’s “Connected Homes” survey. The report concludes that the main reason for not being interested in a smart home was a perceived lack of benefits. In my case, that would be an obvious reference to that one smart wall plug.
Had I resisted my urgently perceived lack of benefit and just done the installation, I am sure other services would have been offered to me over time, as a smart home covers many areas. The Ericsson ConsumerLab report shows that among those interested in multiple smart functionalities, two-thirds would like to have just one supplier. Electricity companies were indeed also among the top five suppliers of interest.
But are electricity companies really the best suppliers of smart homes? I do not think so. In fact, I believe there should be no supplier at all. Ideally, internet should be every bit as intrinsic to the home as water pipes and electrical wiring. For this reason, one of Ericsson ConsumerLab’s top consumer trends for 2016 is instead about sensing homes.
Our research indicates that 55 percent of smartphone users believe that within only five years, their homes will have embedded sensors that look for construction errors, mold buildup, water leaks and electricity issues.
We may have to fundamentally rethink the concept of a smart home.
Although sensors are becoming part of the bricks and mortar, this process will take some time. But old homes may still become smart without the hurdle of an installation phase, since a majority of smartphone owners also expect the indoor environment to be controlled by connected sensors.
For example, since 64 percent believe that buildings will mimic outdoor light conditions within the next five years, light bulbs could be the perfect place for all things connected in your home. The new generation of LED lights is starting to incorporate sensor technology and may soon also use light to provide high speed wireless connectivity.
If your LED light bulbs already come with an app to set color tone, watch out, there may be a new version of the app that also includes burglar alarm functionality!
Companies like Sony are even putting Bluetooth speakers in lightbulbs, so if you think entertainment is part of your smart home that may be another area where installation is no longer necessary!