Tuesday 31 May 2016 7:02 am

Internet of Whatever? Consumers don't care about connected smart homes

Forget the Internet of Things (IoT), it's more like the Internet of Whatever among consumers right now.

Despite the hype growing around smart homes – from fridges that can tell you what items you've run out of, to controlling your lights from a smartphone – the majority of people don't have much interest in the new technology, new research reveals.

Almost three quarters of consumers are not bothered about having smart technology in their homes in the coming years, according to a survey of more than 2,000 people by PwC.

However, of those who do already have smart tech in their homes, nearly all of them – 95 per cent – said they saw the benefits of smart devices.

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The findings demonstrate a large gap that needs to be bridged between the hype surrounding the technology and the actual uptake among consumers in an industry expected to be worth more than $100bn by 2020.

“Momentum is continuing to build in the connected home market and we believe smart energy will have a key role to play," said Steve Jennings, leader of PwC's UK power and utilities. 

"However, it’s clear from our survey that if suppliers and new market entrants are to win over consumers, they will need to develop propositions that not only cut through what appears to be a perceived complex technology challenge but address the reluctance of consumers to fund the introduction of many of these smart energy tech products into their homes."

A front runner has yet to emerge when it comes to which companies will be trusted by consumers to install such technology – 34 per cent said they would rely on an energy firm, 28 per cent on the tech companies or telecoms firms, and 10 per cent a high street retailer. Just under a third said they would be confident installing smart technology themselves.

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“While people have been quick to embrace smart tech lifestyle products such as phones and tablets, many still don’t really understand the range of smart energy products on offer and the potential they have to ease their busy lives in a practical way or even reduce their energy bills. And therein lies the challenge – how can companies change this lack of knowledge into real know-how?" said PwC's head of digital utilities Richard Hepworth, who believes energy firms are well positioned to make up this ground with consumers.

“With real opportunities around smart thermostats, for example– a potential entry level to other smart energy tech for households – energy suppliers have clear ground they can build on in this market. How they react now could define their success as this growing smart energy revolution takes hold,” he added.