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Whirlpool-Led Study Shows Consumers Want Connected Technologies

Consumers are less interested in “automated” homes than having the appliances and electronic devices within their residences communicate and interact with one another.

That’s the conclusion of a new collaborative study by the Connected Home Research Council (formerly the Internet Home Alliance), the research arm of the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA), a not-for-profit industry association that promotes advanced technologies for the automation of homes and buildings.

The report, “2008 State of the Connected Home Market Study,” was conducted in April and May and presented during this month’s International CES. The research was funded by a broad coalition led by Whirlpool, and included Bell Canada, Cisco Systems, Direct Energy, Hewlett-Packard, Legrand, Leviton, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, the Z-Wave Alliance and Zensys. The study was formally introduced to the consumer electronics and allied industries at the NextGen Home, a fully-functional mock-up of a connected house located for the past several shows in the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

According to the report, the number of Web-connected households in the United States that consider the idea of a connected home “definitely appealing” has held steady since 2005. (The study defines a connected home as a home where independent systems, like lighting, security and entertainment, are linked and centrally controlled.) However, more people than ever before find the concept appealing, the study indicated, while suggesting that product convergence represents a major opportunity for growth.

“What consumers want most is an easy, seamless way to integrate their smart-home devices, their mobile device, their TV, their appliances, you name it,” said Whirlpool senior manager Carol Priefert.

Other key findings from the study include:

  • 87 percent of those surveyed have broadband Internet access at home;
  • 58 percent have two or more computers at home; and
  • 43 percent have a home network that allows computers and other devices in the home to communicate with one another.