Ease of use vital for Smart Home and IoT

A recent survey conducted in the US has highlighted concerns from current owners and potential buyers around the complexity and cost of Smart Home systems. Insights from the survey show that 31 percent of current Smart Home owners struggle with the complexity of configuration and the technical support of their devices and systems, while 43 percent of potential buyers are concerned about the complexity of installation and the connectivity of Smart Home devices.

One of the highlights at the Consumer Electronics Show 2016 earlier this year was the impressive array of Smart Home gadgets on display. From Samsung’s Smart Fridge to hybrid electric grills cooking food using solar power, it wasn’t just the gadgets themselves that wowed the conference attendees. The ease of use of the technology was showcased on an equal footing with function by many of the product manufacturers at the show. These are reassuring developments emerging against the backdrop of the support.com survey and widely-publicised issues surrounding systems such as Google Nest.

As is true within other sectors, one of the hurdles to large-scale adoption of Smart Home technology is ensuring ease of deployment, and these concerns are highlighted again in the survey, with many potential buyers expressing a desire to be able to setup and maintain devices and systems themselves.  If the setup process is even remotely too technical for the average user, the Smart Home may never get off the ground at the scale projected. Gesture control, smart buttons and voice recognition are all part of the solution and demonstrated to good effect by the growing number of Amazon Echo compatible devices and new Apple Homekit compliant devices.

The Apple-designed protocol is intended to make it easier for users to interact with products in the growing Smart Home market. The biggest advantage, for now, is the ability to control and check the status of different devices by simply asking Siri. Other vendors are also pushing the “ready” status of their platforms, including Google Nest and Samsung SmartThings (“Works with SmartThings”). 

The user interface is just one dimension in aiding adoption however; widespread and sustainable consumer adoption of smart devices in the home will require overall simplicity of deployment, ease of use and low maintenance. LPWA technologies such as LoRaWAN, SIGFOX and Narrow Band IoT have some key advantages. Long battery life, low-cost chipsets and out-of-the-box connectivity are differentiating features and the wide-area access technology cuts out dependency on third-party home gateways and the need for local pairing. More tech-minded people may not recognise this as an issue but simplifying the network has clear benefits for the world at large, especially for the sceptics.

Of course, all of this applies outside the home as well, and arguably this is where we will see the greatest benefits of the widespread adoption of LPWA technology. City blocks and buildings such as hotels only require ‘campus-style’ islands of connectivity as opposed to regional or national networks, helping us to remove risk and build confidence in product manufacturers.

An open and interoperable ecosystem is critical to drive the adoption of IoT and Smart Homes regardless of which platforms set the pace. Likewise, devices should deploy easily – Position, Activate and Connect. At Arkessa, our commitment is to enable that ease of use from an IoT Connectivity perspective, whether it’s cellular connectivity or the emerging LPWA network technologies. Platform and device vendors should be “future proofing” their IoT device connections otherwise they will miss out on the full benefits. 

By Arkessa

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