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Smart Devices Create Challenges And Privacy Threats For Consumers, Part 2

Survey: Smart Home Technology. What It Is And Who Has It

Coldwell Banker released the results of a 2015 survey of 4,000 adults in the United States about smart home technology. Survey participants consider a home a "smart home" if it contains the new security, temperature, lighting, and safety devices:

"When asked about what needs to be in a home for it to be considered "smart," the top choices were security (e.g., locks and alarm systems - 63 percent), temperature (e.g., thermostats and fans - 63 percent), lighting (e.g., light bulbs and lighting systems - 58 percent) and safety (e.g., fire / carbon monoxide detectors and nightlights - 56 percent)."

Additionally, 76 percent of survey participants said that having only one of the four above categories of smart technology in a home isn't enough for it to be considered a "smart home." And, 60 percent said that a smart home should have have at least three of the four above categories of smart products.

Key findings about smart technology adoption: 45 percent of survey participants said they either own smart home technology or plan to buy it during 2016. Of people who do not currently have smart home technology in their home, 27 percent said they plan to acquire it during 2016. And, 70 percent of people who already have smart home technology said buying their first smart home device made them more likely to buy another.

The gateway device into a smart home is entertainment. 44 percent of people with smart home technology already have smart entertainment devices: smart televisions, smart speakers.

Obviously, Caldwell banker, a real estate firm, is not a disinterested party. A key goal of the survey was to determine if smart devices help people sell their homes, and if so which types of devices sellers should install in their home:

"More than half of homeowners (54 percent) would purchase or install smart home products if they were selling their home and knew that doing so would make it sell faster. Of homeowners who said they'd purchase or install smart home products, 65 percent would pay $1,500 or more and 40 percent would pay $3,000 or more to make their home smart. Of Millennial homeowners (ages 18 to 34) who would purchase or install smart home products, 72 percent would pay $1,500 or more and 44 percent would pay $3,000 or more to make their home smart."

Adoption of the technology occurs across both age and income groups:

"... 40 percent of those over 65 who own smart home products currently have smart temperature products, compared to only 25 percent of Millennials (ages 18 to 34). Americans with a household income of $50k to $75k and those with a household income of $75k to $100k are adopting smart home technology at nearly identical paces..."

I found it very interesting that home buyers said the least popular smart home devices are smart appliances (e.g., smart refrigerators, wireless ovens, washers, clothes dryers) and entertainment.The survey did not seem to address smart home privacy. Privacy and security experts have advised consumers to shop wisely for devices with operating system software that is updated frequently, just like your home computers and tablets. Back in 2014, the Ars Technica blog cautioned:

"Your smart TV is not really a TV so much as an all-in-one computer that runs Android, WebOS, or some custom operating system of the manufacturer's invention. And where once it was purely a device for receiving data over a coax cable, it's now equipped with bidirectional networking interfaces, exposing the Internet to the TV and the TV to the Internet... Herein lies the problem, because if there's one thing that companies like Samsung have demonstrated in the past, it's a total unwillingness to provide a lifetime of software fixes and updates. Even smartphones, which are generally assumed to have a two-year lifecycle (with replacements driven by cheap or "free" contract-subsidized pricing), rarely receive updates for the full two years (Apple's iPhone being the one notable exception)."

So, shop wisely for smart home devices that include regular software updates. And look for devices that are truly smart, and not simply outfitted with a touch-screen and Internet connection. You are going to pay (a lot) more, so make sure you get more. Otherwise, you are inviting problems into your not-so-smart home.

View more information about Caldwell Banker's Smart Home Marketplace Survey.


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