Monday, June 27, 2016
Smart technology has developed at an exponential rate over the past decade. No longer confined to phones, smart technology is now used in a whole host of applications, including TVs, watches and fitness devices.
Our home appliances are also getting smart, with devices such as smart fridges that tell you when you’re running low on food, and smart heating and energy systems that can be controlled from your phone. However, despite the prediction that family homes could contain more than 500 smart devices by 2022, it seems that Brits are less than enthusiastic about making their homes ‘tech-tastic’.
PwC recently carried out research on British people’s attitudes to smart technology in the home, and the results were somewhat surprising. The survey discovered that almost three quarters of participants had no interest in making their homes ‘smarter’ by using the latest technology, and were not planning on investing in smart gadgets such as automated cleaning appliances or renewable energy devices in the next two to five years.
For those people who would consider using smart technology, the main drivers appear to be practical gains and financial advantages. For example, the survey found that financial incentives such as free installation of smart energy meters or lights, or reduced energy bills, could persuade people to change their minds about smart technology in the home.
In contrast, only a small proportion of respondents (just 10%) stated that they would purchase smart technology in order to keep up with their more tech-savvy friends and family members. The ability to control devices through a mobile app also failed to spark people’s interest, with most preferring to walk across the room and flick a switch instead.
However, while homeowners may not be showing much interest, more businesses are keen to adopt the new technology to help reduce power costs and reduce their carbon footprint. Companies such as Networking 2000 are seeing a growing interest in efficient, and often smart, electrical systems that are designed to be as cost effective as possible. Offices are a classic example of where money is wasted on electricity, as lights, computers and peripheral equipment are often left on overnight.
Richard Hepworth, head of digital utilities at PwC, puts this reluctance to embrace smart technology down to a potential lack of knowledge and understanding.
“While people have been quick to embrace smart tech lifestyle products such as phones and tablets, many still don’t really understand the range of smart energy products on offer and the potential they have to ease their busy lives in a practical way or even reduce their energy bills.” he explained.
“And therein lies the challenge – how can companies change this lack of knowledge into real know-how?”
The future may be smart, but Brits appear to be reluctant to embrace change for the time being.
Smart technology undoubtedly has its uses, but as more businesses jump on the bandwagon without considering what the market really wants, there is a serious risk that the smart tech bubble will burst in the not too distant future.
How do you feel about the idea of smart technology governing the way you live? Do we really need our fridges to tell us that we need more cheese, or our home heating systems to decide when to turn themselves on, purely for our own comfort and economy?
Stuart Macleod is the director of Networking 2000 IT Support in Romford, which provides contract-based IT support for businesses in Essex and London.
License: Image author owned
License: Image author owned