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Americans’ trust issues, or lack thereof, with IoT devices and other security-related issues

 - 
Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The last blog I wrote, “What your connected smart home IoT devices are really doing,” highlighted the fact that there are no security standards for IoT manufacturers to follow when creating networked devices. This should cause concern or at least pause for people using such devices, especially in their homes. But, just how aware are consumers about potential risks and do people actually trust the devices they use every day? 

ASecureLife conducted a survey of 300 Americans nationwide to determine how much participants trust the technology they use regularly in their homes as well as people’s biggest concerns related to smart home technology, home security and online privacy. The survey found:

1. A quarter of Americans are NOT concerned with being monitored online by criminals. This nonchalant attitude resulted in 23 percent of American households having someone victimized by cybercriminals in 2018, according to GALLUP

Additionally, in 2017, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 300,000 complaints, totaling more than $1.4 billion in monetary losses for victims. 

2. Americans are more concerned about being monitored online by the government than by businesses.

3. Two-thirds of Americans believe their smart devices are recording them. While it’s time consuming, and to be honest, boring, thoroughly read a company’s terms and conditions so you know what personal information that company is collecting from you, and how they’re using it.

Tip: Adjust the settings on your smart equipment to maximize your privacy. For example, turn off Amazon Echo’s “Drop In” setting to prevent the it from automatically syncing and conversing with other Echo devices. 

4. About one in five parents would let Alexa entertain their kids while they’re away. WOW! Parents are actually trusting their children’s safety and security to the virtual world!? (We’ll be discussing this later on in this blog post! Read on!) 

5. Seventy-five (75) percent of Americans believe smart homes can be easily hacked, but 33 percent have and use some type of smart home technology. This indicates that consumers are indeed buying these gadgets. In fact, a joint-consumer survey conducted by Coldwell Banker Real Estate and CNET found 47 percent of Millennials, aged 18 to 34 years, have and use smart home products. 

6. Women are typically more concerned with home security than financial security, and the opposite is true for men. Participants were asked if they fear a home invasion more than identity theft: 53 percent of women participants said “yes,” compared to 44 percent of men.

Participants were also asked which of the following they would rather do: stop locking your doors or change all your passwords to “1234.” Men’s responses were split evenly, while 59 percent of women preferred to change their passwords to this all-to-common numerical sequence. 

7. Americans aged 55 and older are more protective of their financial security than their home security; the opposite is true for younger people. Participants over age 54 were asked if they feared home invasion more than identity theft to which 70 percent answered “no.” However, participants under age 34 were more likely to fear home invasion. 

While all the findings were eye-opening, for me personally, the one that haunted me pretty deeply was the one about Alexa “babysitting” kids. It’s one thing for parents to allow their children to use Alexa under their supervision, but to allow minors to access Alexa while they are away can be extremely dangerous, in my opinion and based on the news we see every day concerning criminals hacking into security systems, devices recording home-based conversations, apps giving away data to advertisers, and the list goes on and on. 

Question for you parents out there: Would you allow your children to access Alexa when you aren’t at home? Why or why not? 

 

Study: Connected home solutions still in early adopter phase

 - 
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Although a ton of research has been coming out recently looking at the high ceiling for smart or connected home growth over the next few years—Parks Associates says that half of homes will have a connected product by 2020—a recent study by research firm Gartner Inc. finds that only about 10 percent of households currently have connected home solutions.

Gartner found that adoption of “newer connected home solutions is still at the early adopter phase,” a conclusion based on responses from nearly 10,000 people in U.S., the U.K. and Australia during the second half of 2016. According to the study, “connected home solutions” consist of a set of devices and services that are connected to each other and to the Internet and can automatically respond to preset rules, be remotely accessed and managed by mobile apps or a browser, and send alerts or messages to the user (s).

"Although households in the developed world are beginning to embrace connected home solutions, providers must push beyond early adopter use," Amanda Sabia, principal research analyst at Gartner said in the announcement. "If they are to successfully widen the appeal of the connected home, providers will need to identify what really motivates current users to inspire additional purchases."

The survey found that home security alarm systems, the more established of connected home solutions, have nearly double the adoption rates (18 percent) of newer connected home solutions such as home monitoring (11 percent), home automation or energy management (9 percent), and health and wellness management (11 percent). Overall adoption rates were five- to six percent greater in the U.S., where they were first marketed.

However, excluding home security alarm services for which a monthly fee is generally paid, solution providers may find monetizing connected services challenging as the survey revealed that less than half of households currently pay for subscription-based home monitoring and automation/energy management solutions.

“In the U.S., where the home monitoring industry is more developed, 59 percent of households with a home monitoring solution indicate they do pay a monthly fee, thus proving they see value for these solutions,” according to Gartner. “However, charging for subscriptions for home automation/energy management and health and wellness solutions is more of a challenge since more than half of current households are already using these services free of charge.”

Using a scale of 0 to 100, respondents were asked about their feelings and preferences toward the value of devices, appliances and applications in the connected home ecosystem. Three-quarters of respondents indicated they are happy to manually set temperature and lighting controls versus only one-quarter who expressed an interest in having devices anticipate needs in the home. Furthermore, 58 percent of respondents showed a preference for separate, independent, stand-alone devices.

The study found that respondents are starting to see the value of one app for integrating their connected home devices, appliances and services as well as the importance of brand certification for their connected home devices and services. More than half of the respondents (55 percent) rated 51 or more toward the preference of one app integrating connected home devices and services, while 58 percent rated 51 or more toward the importance of hardware and services being certified by a specific brand.

"Messaging needs to be focused on the real value proposition that the complete connected home ecosystem provides, encompassing devices, service and experience," Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner, said in the announcement. "The emphasis needs to be on how the connected home can helps solve daily tasks rather than just being a novelty collection of devices and apps."

Ekholm will provide further analysis on consumers’ use of technology at the Gartner Tech Growth & Innovation Conference 2017 taking place June 19-21 in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Study: Connected home solutions still in early adopter phase

 - 
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Although a ton of research has been coming out recently looking at the high ceiling for smart or connected home growth over the next few years—Parks Associates says that half of homes will have a connected product by 2020—a recent study by research firm Gartner Inc. finds that only about 10 percent of households currently have connected home solutions.

Gartner found that adoption of “newer connected home solutions is still at the early adopter phase,” a conclusion based on responses from nearly 10,000 people in U.S., the U.K. and Australia during the second half of 2016. According to the study, “connected home solutions” consist of a set of devices and services that are connected to each other and to the Internet and can automatically respond to preset rules, be remotely accessed and managed by mobile apps or a browser, and send alerts or messages to the user (s).

"Although households in the developed world are beginning to embrace connected home solutions, providers must push beyond early adopter use," Amanda Sabia, principal research analyst at Gartner said in the announcement. "If they are to successfully widen the appeal of the connected home, providers will need to identify what really motivates current users to inspire additional purchases."

The survey found that home security alarm systems, the more established of connected home solutions, have nearly double the adoption rates (18 percent) of newer connected home solutions such as home monitoring (11 percent), home automation or energy management (9 percent), and health and wellness management (11 percent). Overall adoption rates were five- to six percent greater in the U.S., where they were first marketed.

However, excluding home security alarm services for which a monthly fee is generally paid, solution providers may find monetizing connected services challenging as the survey revealed that less than half of households currently pay for subscription-based home monitoring and automation/energy management solutions.

“In the U.S., where the home monitoring industry is more developed, 59 percent of households with a home monitoring solution indicate they do pay a monthly fee, thus proving they see value for these solutions,” according to Gartner. “However, charging for subscriptions for home automation/energy management and health and wellness solutions is more of a challenge since more than half of current households are already using these services free of charge.”

Using a scale of 0 to 100, respondents were asked about their feelings and preferences toward the value of devices, appliances and applications in the connected home ecosystem. Three-quarters of respondents indicated they are happy to manually set temperature and lighting controls versus only one-quarter who expressed an interest in having devices anticipate needs in the home. Furthermore, 58 percent of respondents showed a preference for separate, independent, stand-alone devices.

The study found that respondents are starting to see the value of one app for integrating their connected home devices, appliances and services as well as the importance of brand certification for their connected home devices and services. More than half of the respondents (55 percent) rated 51 or more toward the preference of one app integrating connected home devices and services, while 58 percent rated 51 or more toward the importance of hardware and services being certified by a specific brand.

"Messaging needs to be focused on the real value proposition that the complete connected home ecosystem provides, encompassing devices, service and experience," Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner, said in the announcement. "The emphasis needs to be on how the connected home can helps solve daily tasks rather than just being a novelty collection of devices and apps."

Ekholm will provide further analysis on consumers’ use of technology at the Gartner Tech Growth & Innovation Conference 2017 taking place June 19-21 in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Honeywell’s Connect 2014 on tap

 - 
Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Honeywell’s Connect 2014 is coming up next month, and I’m happy to say I’ll be in attendance.

Best-selling author and syndicated columnist Jeffrey Gitomer will keynote the event, an annual gathering of independent dealers, which is scheduled for Nov. 13-16 in Orlando. Gitomer is a sales and customer service expert who will speak on his unique approach to driving sales.

More than 60 educational sessions aimed at residential, commercial and enterprise installers are scheduled. I’ve been looking at the list trying to plan a strategy to get to as many as I can.

Honeywell will be showing off its award-wining LYNX Touch 7000 and its High Definition IP Video Kits, and will be giving demos in its Connected Home Room—and that’s something I’m looking forward to as well.

If you’ll be there, let me know so we can meet up!

Customer service and the Internet of Things

Readers say diagnostic tools and IT training for technicians is key to customer satisfaction
 - 
06/18/2014

YARMOUTH, Maine—The Internet of Things phenomenon has left few industries untouched, and security is no exception. While the connected home has opened up a virtually limitless frontier for RMR, it has also spawned new demands for training and customer service that companies would do well to consider if they hope to minimize attrition.

Privacy and the connected home

 - 
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

One of the most visible illustrations of the Internet of Things movement, the connected home continues to open up an expanding world of RMR possibilities for the security industry. But according to a recent CNN Money report, it’s also opening up some new and murky legal terrain that, like many Internet-related matters, raises fundamental questions about privacy and information rights.

The headline is as blunt as it is Orwellian: “Cops can access your connected home.” While the article references smart home technology writ large, the piece mostly focuses on the video aspect of the connected home and the potential for cameras to generate footage that could someday be used in legal proceedings.

In the article, Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst from the American Civil Liberties Union, is quoted as saying, “We’re seeing law enforcement across a variety of areas arguing that they should be able to access information with lower standards than before the electronic age.”

The source also notes that information from the home can provide a “window into the things you’re doing in your private space.”

Still, authorities cannot get their hands on such footage without a warrant or subpoena, as the article notes. A judge authorizes a warrant when the prosecutors show “probable cause” that evidence exists that could be linked to criminal activity. Subpoenas, however, have a somewhat looser standard, requiring only that the data being sought is relevant to a given investigation.

Security companies offering interactive services are typically very sensitive to the notion that customers have lingering concerns about privacy. Andy Stadler, division manager, advanced services, at Security Partners, illustrated that awareness in our conversation a few weeks ago about the company’s recent adoption of Alarm.com’s new video verified alarm service. During the development phase, he said, Security Partners and Alarm.com took pains to erect privacy measures that would perform the dual task of giving central stations the information they need without infringing on the customer's privacy.

This left me wondering: With home automation offerings so widespread, could the implementation of more robust and consumer-friendly privacy measures emerge as a real differentiator? Are the more tech-savvy, privacy-conscious consumers going to start asking companies how long they store footage on their servers? Are they going to ask how and why authorities might access data generated in their homes? Are they going to ask about what cyber security measures are being put in place to thwart hacks?

This will be a fascinating industry topic to watch on several levels. At the business level, it could just be that the companies most attentive to privacy protections will view public skepticism as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.

Honeywell’s Harkins transitions to new role

 - 
Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Honeywell’s Scott Harkins is transitioning to a new role.

Honeywell spokeman David Gottlieb today confirmed that “Scott Harkins has accepted a new role within Honeywell to help develop global growth opportunities within the Connected Home space. He will leave his current post as president of Honeywell Security Products Americas by the end of June.”  

Honeywell Security Group has not yet announced a successor to Harkins. “Honeywell Security Group has a strong leadership team in place committed to delivering for our customers and ensuring a smooth transition while we execute our succession plan. We will share news regarding our new leadership as soon as we finalize this process,” Gottlieb said in a prepared statement.

Harkins joined Honeywell in 1995. Before he was named president of HSPA in December 2011, he oversaw Honeywell’s video surveillance and access control divisions.

I don't know if Harkins' new role will include working with Honeywell's Lyric thermostat, which it launched yesterday. There's been much in the mainstream news today about Honeywell partnering with Apple to "take on" Google's NEST. (Some of these guys do seem to forget that Honeywell HAS been in the thermostat business for a few years.)

Here's a report from Apple Insider And here's a report from Bloomberg, which goes on to talk about the connected home. 

 

 

 

Schneider Electric, Alarm.com partner to manage home energy

 - 
06/05/2013

PALATINE, Ill. and Vienna, Va.—Schneider Electric and Alarm.com have teamed up to bring Schneider’s Wise home management system to home builders, utilities and other service providers in the efficient energy space, the companies announced today.