Connected devices are becoming more pervasive in industry, business, and at home. The IoT (Internet of Things) is automating processes that used to be manual, presenting opportunities for businesses to discover new revenue streams, and putting all kinds of information, controls, and decision-enhancing data into the hands of many.
Increasingly, businesses like IKEA, www.ikea.com, are making connected devices more accessible to everyday consumers. For instance, the Swedish retailer recently added compatibility with HomeKit by Apple, www.apple.com, Alexa by Amazon, www.amazon.com, and Google Home by Google, www.google.com, to its Tradfri smart lights, allowing the lights to be controlled remotely via equipped Apple, Amazon, and Google devices. By making smart lights easier to use, IKEA is a prime example of how retailers are helping bring connected devices into more homes.
Forrester Research, www.forrester.com, recently released data suggesting the installed base of smart-home devices in the United States will grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 42% during the next five years. Smart-home devices becoming more accessible is contributing to the anticipated growth of not only the smart-home market, but also the consumer-connected device market as a whole.
But how much connectivity is too much? Connected devices are changing the ways homeowners secure, control, and maintain their homes and the systems within it, and these devices are also changing the ways people interact with technology and with each other while they’re at home. A new Comcast, www.comcast.com, study provides some insight into the ways device use is changing family dynamics. The data suggests almost all (98%) of the respondents believe device-free meals are important for family bonding, but 42% of them can’t remember the last time their family had a device-free meal.
The nationwide study of parents reveals both parents and children are to blame, with 52% of respondents admitting they’ve been asked by their kids to put their devices away during meals. This data has led tech providers like Comcast to consider how they can help their customers “switch off.” Comcast’s Xfinity xFi platform allows customers to monitor and control their Wi-Fi, even allowing them to pause connectivity easily via mobile device.
Businesses also grapple with the always-on nature of today’s connected employees. In many cases, employees must interact with connected devices in order to be as productive as possible on the job, but that doesn’t mean these devices can’t also cause distraction—especially when they’re personally owned. As a result, businesses must create BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policies with clear-cut boundaries, just like modern families must create boundaries in the home to maintain a healthy balance between connected and disconnected.
While, in general, the benefits of having connectivity at consumers’ and employees’ fingertips outweigh the downsides, the need and desire to disconnect is one of the realities of an evolving IoT world—a reality the consumer-connected device industry can navigate by adding controls that limit the very connectivity consumers and businesses both require and demand.
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