I initially purchased a smart speaker (an Echo Dot) out of a desire to loosen the tether between my 10-year-old son and his iPod Touch. He wanted unlimited access to music in his room, and I wasn’t sold on the prospect of unlimited access to just about everything else. The installation of an affordable, screen-less, Spotify-streaming speaker in his room seemed like a fair compromise.
What I did, of course, was install our key to the smart home, opening the door to controlling our lights, locks and lives from our phones and with our voices. We’ve, admittedly, yet to do most of that, even a year and a half later, but after sifting through the dozens and dozens (and dozens) of products in this issue, all designed to provide solutions within every room of the home, new plans are being drawn.
Smart Home Stroll
As tech retailers find their footing in smart-home selling — so much potential, so much perplexity — it’s widely believed that consumer education will cast the deciding vote in which brands succeed and which don’t. Beyond the traditional quandary of demonstrating to consumers why the tech can solve a problem in their home, privacy concerns further hamper adoption rates. In bringing the device into our home, did I simply exchange one problem for another (much bigger) one?
To be sure, there are smart-home devices that aren’t long for this world, especially those failing to acknowledge these concerns as real obstacles deserving of transparent solutions. (You should see the castaway considerations for our “In the Bathroom” section.) But overreaching CE devices that flame out and fade away are an old story in this industry, and it’s never one that’s successfully dissuaded innovation. The smart home has, as one industry analyst told me earlier this year, “jumped the hump” from a niche to an established category.
Retailers, especially brick-and-mortar with informed sales associates, have an opportunity to help consumers overcome their own hill. And, judging from the sheer amount of prospects included within this feature, it’s a trek worth undertaking.