Despite the fact that the home automation market is expected to grow by double digits every year through the end of the decade, there is still a reluctance among the majority of American homeowners to adopt home automation. Among the reasons for their hesitancy is the belief that equipment is too expensive.
Until hardware manufacturers and retailers figure out how to bring prices down and make consumers comfortable with the cost of home automation, there will be ongoing challenges to making the technology as common as the smartphone.
A recently-released survey from International Data Corporation suggests that about half of U.S. consumers are reluctant to adopt home automation. The top five reasons for their reluctance are as follows:
• Too expensive (46%)
• No use for the technology (40%)
• Too little value (30%)
• Too complicated (18%)
• Lack of confidence in capabilities (12%)
Americans are undoubtedly consumers above all else. Therefore, it would seem that the two biggest hurdles for the home automation industry are bringing down retail costs and creating devices that people can find practical uses for. There are some companies already working on this.
DIY Systems Lower Costs
Bringing down the cost of home automation is more about eliminating labor than actual equipment costs. For example, a consumer who purchases a home automation system through a full-service company offering "free" installation still charges the consumer for the installation through higher hardware prices. So one way to bring down costs is to provide DIY systems.
Uxari is one example of a company doing just that. They are a Florida company that has created a collection of wireless home automation devices that customers can use to build customized systems. They can build systems that meet their requirements and budgets, knowing that those same systems will be scalable should they be able to afford more in the future.
Moving beyond Thermostats and Lighting
The other thing the industry is working hard at is moving beyond just thermostats and lighting. They definitely need to. A person who wants to better control his/her thermostat can spend less on a programmable thermostat than home automation if he/she's willing to learn how to use that thermostat in all of its complicated glory. As far as lighting goes, the old-fashioned outlet timer is still a functional way to control lighting at a lower cost.
Home automation needs to go above and beyond lighting and thermostats to be more attractive. Remote door locks are one example of the industry moving in the right direction. With electronically controlled door locks installed, the homeowner can remotely lock and unlock doors to accommodate children coming home from school or guests arriving from out of town. Should a homeowner leave home and inadvertently forget to lock the door behind him/her, the problem can be solved with a smartphone.
This leads us to another factor that could help more Americans become interested in home automation: tying it into security. Companies such as Uxari are doing that, by offering video surveillance that can be monitored remotely. For example, place a camera just above the front door and you will be able to see the kids coming home from school every day. That's the kind of usefulness people want if they plan to spend the money.
The good news for the home automation industry is that half of Americans are interested in the technology. The bad news is that the other half are not. In order to change that, the industry needs to reduce the costs and come up with devices that have more practical uses.
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