More than ever, consumers find a connected home appealing and product convergence is the biggest opportunity for growth, according to the results of a new study into the state of the smart home. According to The 2008 State of the Connected Home Market Study, the number of U.S. online households that consider the idea of a connected home--a home where independent systems, like lighting, security and entertainment, are linked and centrally controlled--"definitely appealing" has held steady since 2005.
"This report confirms our understanding that consumers do not want to 'automate their homes' as much as they want to use connected home technologies to solve life's small problems, save themselves time, energy and money and provide peace of mind," said Mary Miller, director of Marketing, Zensys, makers of the Z-wave wireless chip and a study participant. "Our mission, as an industry, is to provide consumers with seamless and interoperable solutions."
"What consumers want most is an easy, seamless way to integrate their smart home devices--their mobile device, their TV, their appliances, you name it," said Carol Priefert, senior manager, Whirlpool Corp., the study's lead participant.
For instance, smart phone users report positive responses from using mobile devices in the kitchen, not just for communicating, but for scheduling, managing grocery lists and listening to audio. By providing consumers with real-life benefits via their cell phones to other smart home solutions, demand should increase like never before.
Another opportunity exists among those living in states where energy costs are high and utility
costs could be controlled with careful monitoring since they report being open to the idea of a smart home.
In addition to convergence and energy monitoring, consumers are interested in specific product solutions such as a wireless memory card for digital cameras (so their camera can 'talk' to their computer and printer) and a personal multimedia player that offers a range of video capabilities including 'download your favorite shows'.
Following are some of the study's other key findings:
• 87% of those surveyed have broadband Internet at home
• 58% have two or more computers at home
• 43% have a home network that allows computers and other devices in the home to communicate with one another
• Top computer activities are checking news (72%) and instant messaging (49%)
• 90% of online households in the US say they have used a computer recently for entertainment purposes--playing computer games, watching videos, listening to music, burning CDs, etc.
• 34% report engaging in online social networking via sites like Facebook
• People are cutting the cord: 12% of consumers in the US are using cell phones and 8% are using VoIP (voice communication over the Internet) rather than landlines for home service
• 57% of online households use cell phones in the kitchen on a regular basis
• Audio activity is climbing thanks to portable devices and computers but multi-room home audio installations lack traction
• 51% of workers who use a computer regularly at work feel they have some or complete freedom to choose from where they work, up from 43% in 2005 and working outside the office is up significantly since 2005, from 29% to 38%.
The 2008 State of the Connected Home Market Study was conducted by Zanthus, a high-tech market research firm, and was funded by Whirlpool, Bell Canada, Cisco Systems, Direct Energy, Hewlett-Packard Company, Legrand, Leviton Manufacturing Co., Inc., Microsoft Corp., Procter & Gamble, the Z-Wave Alliance and Zensys.
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