The Smartification of the Home, Part 2
In the previous part of this post, we explained what the “smartification” of the home is, why people are adopting it, and looked into some of the factors that can influence how people choose to add home automation into their daily lives.
What are some additional factors that influence whether smart devices are accepted into homes?
Replacement of Existing Equipment
As existing devices and appliances in the home need replacement, homeowners may choose to replace these with smart devices. Of course, users may not actually use the “smart” features of the equipment, at least not initially.
“Keeping things dumb” is a valid security consideration for a consumer that ultimately can’t or won’t make use of the features provided by smart devices, or doesn’t want to bother with the ongoing need to administer and maintain a security infrastructure for their home.
The reason is that they would be increasing the attack surface of their home, without a corresponding perceived benefit. However, all this means that devices which have a shorter life cycle are more likely to become “smart” compared to more durable, long-lasting devices.
Broadband Provider Bundles
In many cases, broadband providers not only provide Internet access but phone and TV services as well. As consumers renew their contracts, many will increasingly be enticed into adding smart home services to their existing contracts. Examples of these in the United States include Time Warner’s IntelligentHome, AT&T’s Digital Life, and Verizon Home Control. All these offers include products for the smart home that covers automation, security and energy efficiency.
This means that users who may not have even thought of acquiring smart devices in the past may find themselves buying these products: after all, it’s now just a small part of the bigger bundle they pay for.
Tangible Benefits and Ease of Use
One of the biggest factors in determining whether smart technology is adopted or not is whether it delivers needed or wanted benefits to consumers. Broadly speaking, devices and gadgets fall into somewhere along the following continuum when it comes to perceived benefits:
Figure 1. Sliding scale of perceived benefits
I won’t give examples of the “nice to have” and “unused gizmos”, since many of us have drawers full of items that would qualify in these categories. Some products can be considered a “fundamental enhancement” – i.e., something that significantly improves an existing experience. Examples include remote monitoring camera, thermostat, automatic lighting, or smart TVs.
Others can be “mission critical” and provide completely new services to consumers, such as doctor-prescribed health monitoring or security devices.
Of course, beyond any classification based on benefits, any device that does not provide simplistic and reliable operation in the hands of the average consumer may also become, simply put, useless.
Regional and Cultural Mindset
Local factors – such as the regional and cultural mindset of consumers – will be a significant factor in determining whether smart devices succeed or fail in individual markets. Different regions may come to different conclusions about the trade-off between the value of smart devices and their possible consequences. Factors such as culture, religion and way of life may come into play.
In addition, the role of smart devices in potential cyber-attacks from other nation-states may cause consumers to become aware and opinionated about where there devices come from – and may judge the acceptance of smart devices accordingly. Politics may play a key role in whether the smart home is accepted in different countries.
The combination of all of these factors will influence how quickly smart devices will proliferate in homes around the world. This will influence how the threat landscape surrounding smart devices evolves; market decisions today will influence the threats of tomorrow. In addition, other technical factors may influence this as well. We will be monitoring this market for threats, and will discuss them in future posts.
Stay tuned for our upcoming Threat Intelligence Resource – Internet of Everything hub, which will provide the latest updates and information about the Internet of Everything.