Inside The Industry: Smart-Home Technology

June 14, 2004
Easing In The Smart, Connected Home

A study was performed recently to find out how consumers adopt new technology. It revealed that most consumers don't like technology, but they like its benefits. So if consumers don't like technology itself, what are the benefits of technology that compel them to adopt new products?

We know people will readily adopt new ways of doing familiar things if it is made easy to do so. Consumers more readily accept new products and services that fit easily within their existing routines, requiring minimal or no change in behavior. The "Swiss Army Knife" approach won't work for connected home appliances that consumers touch.

Devices such as mobile phones, DVD players, and digital cameras were adopted rapidly. These products offered consumers a more convenient way to do something familiar—make phone calls, watch movies, and take photos.

Furthermore, the home network (with the help of broadband access and other wireless and wireline connections) will connect computers, consumer entertainment products, appliances, and home environmental features (like heating, cooling, lawn sprinklers, and curtains) into a nexus. That nexus will allow the collection and sharing of data and the sharing of content from the Internet. It will also make resources available to anyone, anywhere in the house, or even to the family car.

New types of devices will begin to appear that are better at running specialized functions. Next, enabling technology will begin to disappear into more familiar objects as they become part of the décor. The connected-home vision goes the next step and sees all of this content being controlled, directed, stored, and distributed by a mix of centralized resources and distributed control, creating what is often referred to as "ambient" intelligence.

So, the challenge before us isn't just communicating the benefits of technology. It's really building products with clear benefit to the consumer. When technology becomes more integrated into the everyday things we use and what we do, products will take less of our time and energy, require less space in our homes, and make it easy to experience and value the benefits.


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