You can’t spell ‘Idiot’ without ‘IOT’: Why consumers are afraid of the Smart Home

There is a quote from the 1993 Spielberg classic ‘Jurassic Park’, spoken by the living meme that is Jeff Goldblum. When being briefed in on the internal operations of the park, the eccentric Dr. Ian Malcolm chimes in, lambasting the park owner, John Hammond, and his team. “[They] were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”, he exclaimed in the now classic scene. A sentiment that, 25 years later, still rings true. As the world slowly adopted the ‘information age’, and as the price of wireless technology plummeted due to it’s ever-present nature, a figurative ‘smart product arms race’ was kickstarted. Soon, everyone was putting bluetooth receivers into regular household objects, empowering users to use these devices in ways that would never have been imagined before. 

Although there is a large market for these kinds of things, not everybody sees the benefits of having a toilet roll that orders more when you’re almost out (seriously), or a fit-bit styled collar for your canine friend (again, seriously). Most people see it as either a gimmick, or as yet another thing you have to remember to charge every night. A successful IoT device has to blend seamlessly into the user’s lifestyle without adding extra steps. As soon as you ask the user to change their workflow for the device, there will be pushback.

What’s stopping adoption? 

The lack of a proper umbrella service for all these devices.

The problem with current IoT devices is that it requires the users to download a dedicated app to get the most out of their devices. Although steps have been made by the major OS manufacturers (Apple Homekit, Google Home, Amazon Alexa), they aren’t a proper solution. When manufacturers lock their hardware to the specific service, it becomes a disjointed mess which ultimately just impacts the end users. Does anyone actually read these blog posts? If so, leave a “ye” in the comments. These factors can turn prospective clients away from buying into a particular ecosystem.

The overabundance of different kinds of devices

With an interest in home automation skyrocketing, many are looking to create their perfect “smart homes”. Networking different devices together is part of the appeal of owning a “smart home”, but the problem lies in the ability to properly get them to work in tangent. Services like IFTTT and the aforementioned company based services only get you so far. Many of the features found in the standalone apps are severely hindered due to security flaws or just poor programming, and it can ultimately hinder the performance severely. 

Security regarding these devices

If I told you that I wanted to put an always on, two way microphone + speaker in every room of your house, you would have called me insane. Now it’s available for $49.99 at best buy and comes in a bunch of fun colours. As more companies are making these devices packed with sensors, speakers, and always on connectivity, there is an issue regarding privacy. Many of these devices require software updates to keep one step ahead of malicious parties, but not everyone is familiar with how to do it. This can leave their network open to attacks, and can lead to real world ramifications.