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From smart home to smart auto: Your car may be the next smart device battleground

From smart home to smart auto: Your car may be the next smart device battleground

The connected car is not a new concept, but connected device offerings for your car are increasingly available, with Ring recently announcing several new security products. The Ring Car Cam connects to a USB port in the car and provides video recordings of anything noteworthy – close calls, fender benders and even break-ins. Those familiar with the Ring camera brand at home will likely see the car as a logical extension of the home and an important place to protect with video surveillance. In fact, Ring has said that vehicle security is one of the most requested expansions for the Amazon-owned brand from its existing customer base.

Ring has also announced a Ring Car Alarm. Instead of using video, the alarm plugs into a car’s diagnostic port and senses any unusual motion that could be a crash, a bump, a tow-away or a break-in. An event will trigger an alert on your smartphone, which you can use to track the location of your car.  Amazon has been trying to secure a foothold in the smart car device market for some time now, introducing the Echo Auto last year, and more recently unveiling two new car-focused features for its popular Alexa voice assistant: an Auto Mode that turns a smartphone into a driver-friendly display, and a Start My Commute option to stay on top of weather and traffic updates.

Whether it’s Amazon’s lineup or one of the many smart car alarm and remote startup systems on the market, auto manufacturers, dealers, leasing companies, and insurance firms are likely to benefit from bundling in more smart systems to appeal to increasingly tech savvy customers. Not only do these devices increase the appeal of certain car models, they enable companies to better track their inventory or to better understand the risk profile of the drivers they insure. Interpret’s New Media Measure® indicates that people who lease cars, in particular, are more in tune with smart home tech, as 49% of people who lease currently own a smart home device compared to 41% of car buyers.

Will drones become standard home security offerings?

Will drones become standard home security offerings?

Amazon Ring’s recently announced Always Home drone-based security camera has been generating polarizing reactions. Some have said the thought of a camera flying around the home, in and out of rooms, is creepy and disturbing. Others think it’s futuristic and cool and can’t wait to get one to see how it works.

Ring is clearly redefining home security, catering to those who wish to use a camera for video self-monitoring. The Always Home drone can inspect the home for five-minute intervals before it has to return to base to charge for at least one hour. The device features collision detection intelligence to keep it from hitting walls, lamps or pets. The drone can also integrate with the Ring Alarm security kit, meaning that if any activity is detected while the security system is set to away mode, the Always Home camera will begin flying around to surveil the area. Ring has been effective at leveraging device interoperability, which is a key motivator for smart home device purchases, Interpret data shows.

Ring stoked enthusiasm for a new class of smart home devices when it popularized the doorbell camera, launched in 2013. Now, it has combined home security with consumers’ tech toy interest in drones. The home drone may well be the next big holiday hit when it launches in 2021 for $250. According to Interpret’s research, only 13% of consumers have a smart, connected security system, suggesting that a large, untapped market exists for DIY solutions such as a home drone.

DISH enables live viewing of doorbell video on TV

DISH enables live viewing of doorbell video on TV

Today’s home security landscape continues to embrace new technologies. If you want to keep tabs on who’s at your door, doorbell cameras from Amazon-owned Ring, Honeywell, Skybell, Arlo, and others are solid options. Homeowners who’d rather see the doorbell video directly on their TVs, however, can look to satellite provider DISH for another solution. The company recently announced a new integration with Google Nest that enables the video feed generated by any Nest camera, including the Nest Hello Video Doorbells, to be viewed on any connected TV powered by DISH’s Hopper pay TV platform. The enhanced functionality won DISH a BEST Award at the virtually held CEDIA Expo this year.

Prior to this latest integration, DISH Hopper users could receive an alert, via a static image in a pop-up window on screen, when there was motion sensed by a Nest Hello Video Doorbell. Hopper users can launch a live video stream through an on-screen menu, or by using voice prompts with the DISH Voice Remote. DISH has taken a bold step in integrating products from a third party – Nest, in this case – and subsequently increased the value of both the Hopper platform and Nest cameras. The Nest line continues to play a larger role in smart home security thanks in part to Google purchasing a stake in ADT over the summer.

“Seamless integration is the next step in the smart home evolution,” said Stuart Sikes, Interpret’s SVP of Research. “While Amazon and Google’s smart speakers have initiated integration of multi-vendor products, the tight integrations like DISH and Nest are offering will be table stakes for future home appliances. These integrations will first be accomplished by individual vendor partnerships, but eventually will just work, like plugging a new device into the home electrical outlet.”

Interpret’s Smart Home Matrix® research finds that the more smart products a consumer owns, the more they expect the products to be able to work together. The majority of consumers who own two or more smart home devices state that interoperability is important to their next purchase – a concern that device makers must more actively address in their customer communications.

Wi-Fi 6 has debuted but expect adoption to be slow at first

Wi-Fi 6 has debuted but expect adoption to be slow at first

A common complaint in the age of COVID-19 is unreliable internet service to the home. Increased usage of connected devices across millions of homes appears to be straining the internet infrastructure. According to Variety, US homes have an average of 11 Wi-Fi connected devices and that number is rising fast. With most new TVs being smart TVs, streaming video to televisions, game consoles, PCs and tablets are a growing strain on home networks. Wi-Fi 6, the next generation standard in Wi-Fi technology supporting a 6GHz band, could be a possible solution.

Wi-Fi 6 is theoretically 2.5 times faster than Wi-Fi 5, and offers four times as much bandwidth, while using less battery power. The increased speed and bandwidth should be particularly useful for online gaming and streaming of 4K video content, assuming the incoming internet signal from a user’s ISP is sufficient.

The industry is moving in the direction of adopting Wi-Fi 6, but it’s important to recognize that not all devices currently support the technology. Smartphones from Samsung, Apple, LG and Huawei support Wi-Fi 6, and computers from Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo also do, but not Apple (although Apple’s latest iPads support the new standard). Moreover, the current crop of smart TVs and streaming media devices do not support Wi-Fi 6.

There’s a clear hurdle for the end user to enjoy the new standard. Consumers will need a new router – and that will not be supplied by an ISP or cable provider for a long time. The cost to upgrade is also going to give some consumers pause. Higher capacity routers available at retail frequently employ mesh network technology, meaning they come in kits of two or three devices spread around the home and typically cost $350 to $600.

According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, 8% of consumers report already owning a mesh network router, and 7% intend to purchase one in the next three months. Wi-Fi 6 router pricing is likely to come down and support will grow as well, leading to further adoption in the years ahead. There’s also a Wi-Fi 6E technology in the works. A day will come when complaining about your home internet connection will be a relic of the past.

Renters are increasingly seeking smart home amenities

Renters are increasingly seeking smart home amenities

Earlier this month, Amazon announced “Alexa for Residential,” a campaign designed to make it easy for apartment managers and landlords to configure Alexa-powered devices and make them permanent fixtures in housing units. According to Amazon’s own research, 84% of renters want smart home amenities and 61% are willing to pay a monthly fee for a voice assistant. This represents a sizable opportunity for the smart home industry as younger, tech-savvy renters begin leaning more heavily on smart home devices.    

Amazon is assuming that outfitting apartments with smart home equipment will enhance the perceived value of a unit and increase an apartment community’s appeal. The company is also betting on renters not being concerned about privacy issues, or that their landlord may be listening in. Privacy is a major issue in the smart home market, as Interpret’s Smart Home Matrix®  research indicates that nearly 50% percent of consumers are highly concerned about privacy. Moreover, our Matrix determined that first time smart home product buyers are often single women over 40 who rent their home, and are frequently more cautious about trying new technology.

“Landlords of apartment communities may find that offering Alexa is not effective at attracting the middle-aged renter, but is seen as an attractive amenity by younger renters. Our data provides a clear picture around privacy concerns, and younger renters simply don’t share the same privacy concerns as older generations,” said Stuart Sikes, SVP at Interpret.  

Interpret data shows that Gen Z and Millennials have the fewest privacy concerns of any age group. Only a third of people aged 18-24 in the US are highly concerned with the data shared about them online; that figure climbs to around 41% for ages 25-34, but older brackets expressed far more concern about privacy.

Security providers must increase whole home automation to expand their business

Security providers must increase whole home automation to expand their business

The security business is very much in the crosshairs for the smart home industry, as evidenced by the recent investment by Google into ADT, which aims to make Nest devices a key piece of the company’s strategy. As more DIY solutions are available as alternatives to security systems, Interpret’s New Media Measure® research shows that many homeowners like the control and convenience that a smart home security system can offer.

Security systems owners cite control and convenience as reasons for purchase slightly more frequently than owners of standalone cameras. While standalone cameras are available at lower cost to the consumer, smart security system owners realize the added value, beyond protecting their home from fire or break-in, of controlling their entire home through their security systems. Similarly, owners of smart home security systems more frequently cite convenience as a reason for purchase. As homeowners consider their security options, there’s a real opportunity for security providers to emphasize the whole home automation features of a full system solution in order to differentiate.

The implication for home security systems vendors, as they face increasing competition from standalone product providers, is that they need to sell on far more than security, embracing and emphasizing the convenience and whole home control capabilities of their devices along with security. Differentiation will be increasingly important as new devices get smarter, as whole home automation is the professional security provider’s business to lose.