By Daphne Huang, Raissa Baggio and Robin Kaelin
“Alexa, turn on the heater “. Whether it concerns the control of lighting, temperature, security or other miscellaneous functions, “smarthome” devices have been gaining attention in the last past years. Already in 2014, Amazon introduced an intelligent home assistant, Alexa whilst Alphabet (Google) went on to acquire Nest, a smart thermostat maker for more than 3.2 billion dollars. Whilst the leading technology companies demonstrate a strong push in this innovative area, the question remains to the actual demand of young consumers, notably in the Western society. Coming from all around the world, Norway, Germany, Peru and Switzerland, five students aged from 19 to 23 years old were willing to express their enthusiasm and concern regarding smart home devices through an interview.
Firstly, although smartphone devices were known to most of the interviewees, the concept and a further explanation than just the word was needed more than once. When asked whether the interviewees had or used smart devices at home, the answers were all negative. This was most interesting as there was a clearly an interest in the possession of these new devices, yet no one had acquired it. This led to another question, which was the reason for their interest and positive attraction. The main advantages people saw in smarthome devices was the way their lives could be made much easier. For example, one young Norwegian expressed his desire to have a process or device in his house that automatically generates his shopping list, where he would find all the missing home supplies that he would forget.
However, although it was clear that smarthome devices made life easier and more comfortable for people, these still presented some concerns to the people interviewed. Firstly, security was a central issue, notably the data protection of the individual and his private life. There were complaints about the misuse of personal data for commercial purposes. Another concern was the reliability and technical aspects of the devices, people were worried about whether these actually worked or could be fixed in case of a malfunction. Finally, this connects to the price aspect of smarthome devices, as these still sold at a high price, not yet completely affordable to the younger and more interested generation, such as the students interviewed.
Smarthome devices are relatively new to society. The younger generation is most interested and intrigued in this new technology, yet are not yet using such devices today. To see such an adoption, one would have to consider security issues, insurance of technical quality and finally introducing affordable prices.
And what about you? What is your opinion about smart home devices? Let us know in the comments.