Smart Home: Security Leads, Convenience Gains

Security is the leading value proposition for the smart home, but in a recent survey, Parks Associates found that 40-50% of consumers who participated in the study find energy monitoring services appealing.

Smart home on the rise
Smart home on the rise

Security is the leading value proposition for the smart home, but in a recent survey, Parks Associates found that 40-50% of consumers who participated in the study find energy monitoring services appealing. Specifically, 54% of U.S. broadband households are interested in a monitoring solution that identifies problems with any major appliance, and 50% want a solution that identifies ways of improving energy efficiency.

For Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), which has Xfinity Home, security is indeed a primary driver, but overall consumers want peace of mind and features that make their life easier and eliminate simple chores, said Neil Foster, VP of product management, Xfinity Home. The app allows customers to arm and disarm their security system, but it also allows them to automate tasks such as having the air conditioning and front door lights turn on at a specific time. Both lighting and thermostat control are desired features of Xfinity Home customers, Foster said.

"The majority of our Xfinity Home customers want to add cameras so they can remotely see if a package arrived, if their children are in the kitchen or out in the backyard," Foster added.

Recently Comcast announced a partnership with Philips Lighting, which allows Xfinity Home customers to manage and control Philips Hue connected lighting systems through the Xfinity Home mobile app. They can create automated commands that synchronize their lights with home security and other smart home functions. In other words, they can do things like automatically turn lights on or off when they arm their security system.

Comcast also completed its acquisition of Icontrol Networks, specifically the Converge business that creates Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and platforms for connected home security. The Converge platform already powers Xfinity Home service. The MSO has said that it plans to invest more strategically in new products and features for Xfinity Home, particularly in the area of connected home security. The company also will establish an IoT Center of Excellence in Austin, TX, where Icontrol is based. The acquisition is also intended to create a new wholesale line of business for Xfinity Home, under which Comcast will offer service to other MSOs.

Returning to Parks, the research firm has been looking a lot lately at topics pertaining to the smart home. They found that 59% of U.S. broadband households planning to purchase a smart home device are interested in a support service that guarantees the security of their device from unauthorized access. This option was the most popular value-added service among smart home shoppers; services that resolve technical issues or provide tools for the user to address problems each gained interest from 45% of potential buyers.

Parks also learned that 55% of U.S. broadband households want to use voice to control not only for their entertainment but also for their smart home devices. They want to be able to access their smart home capabilities through their entertainment devices.

A separate Parks study indicates that 50% of U.S. broadband households consider $20 or more per month for a comprehensive smart home service to be a good value. More than 26 million U.S. households own at least one smart home device, which represents a 35% increase from the beginning of 2016. However, privacy concerns remain a barrier to widespread adoption.

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