COVID – 19 Impact
The government has budgeted an initial £2bn for a Green Homes Grant scheme for the stimulus budget, through which homeowners and landlords will receive government grants of up to £5,000 to cover up to two-thirds of the cost of investments to make their homes more energy efficient, for example by installing insulation.
Low-income households will receive grants of up to £10,000 to cover the full cost of such alterations. The government hopes to upgrade 600,000 homes through this scheme and help the country to meet its net zero targets in the process.
It has also created a £1.1bn fund for public buildings, such as hospitals, schools or social housing, to improve energy efficiency. Taken together, these schemes are expected to create 140,000 jobs.
- Spending on security services will be adversely affected as we enter financially challenging times as happened in the 2008 recession.
- Do-It-Yourself (DIY) solutions are likely to become more popular as consumers prefer not to have technicians entering their homes thereby reducing expenditures on installation services.
- The disruption to the supply chain in China following the closure of factories and reduction in the workforce has had some impact on most global Consumer Electronics device makers.
- Close to 50 per cent of the world’s LCD panels for TVs, notebooks and monitors are made in China and a number of LCD factories have been closed. This has resulted in tighter lines of supplies, higher panel prices and an inevitable drop in shipments of end devices.
- In times of financial distress consumers tend to prioritise spending on the necessities rather than on discretionary purchases. However, with consumers sending more time at home, previous recessions have seen spending on home entertainment relatively buoyant.
- On the demand side of things, smart speakers are a lot less expensive than televisions, tablets and smartphones, and even though many consumers will still see them as an unnecessary purchase
- On the positive side, smart speaker and smart displays with voice and video calling capabilities are increasingly being used for communication purposes and there is the potential for a spike in demand as current owners order products for other family members to use and communicate through. In fact the BBC has recently written about the merits of smart displays for staying in touch virtually with older relatives.
Hive HomeShield – giving customer access to a smart alarm system they can install themselves
Hive HomeShield, the Smart Alarm system from Hive, enables users to call on their DIY skill set. Hive has built step-by-step guides supporting the customer to self-install their smart alarm system. The Hive app includes a seamless integration between the physical installation of products and onboarding onto the Hive ecosystem. The in app guide provides details of what is provided in their package, the tools needed for self- installation and step by step drilling/fitting instructions. HomeShield users can benefit from the integrated 'how-to' support videos anytime; offering detailed information on how to fix the Hive Siren and Outdoor View Camera to their home exterior. Throughout the guided process, there are options to request additional support via an expert installer, if required.
Hive HomeShield is the new innovative security system from Hive that puts homeowners in control of their security system.
The smart alarm system brings together the Hive View Outdoor Camera, Hive Hub, contact and motion sensors, as well as introducing the Hive Siren and Keypad.
There is an appetite to spend more on smart products that deliver real benefits. But consumers are yet to associate compelling benefits with broad smart home product categories.
Domestic smart energy technologies can improve the lives of vulnerable people including the elderly, those with health problems, or those on low incomes. For example, combined with temperature and humidity sensors, smart meters can help ensure householders have the information they need to make wise energy choices. Or carers could use this information to check that vulnerable householders are not under-heating their home. In countries like Japan energy use patterns which differ from average use patterns are being used to signal to healthcare/social care/family members when an elderly or vulnerable person might require attention. Using energy systems in this way presents benefits for families and carers, healthcare providers, adult social care services within local authorities.
Informetis Europe – InfoCare Assisted Living – Case Study
Informetis is a smart energy solutions provider, based in Cambridge, which uses AI and Machine Learning (ML) technology to deliver innovative services based on energy usage data. Recently, we trialled our InfoCare Assisted Living solution with a small group of users in the Norwich area delivering some interesting results. By installing an Informetis proprietary smart sensor in a Senior person’s electricity fuse board, our technology can ‘disaggregate’ the overall electricity consumption into the individual appliances’ consumption and status (on/off). For example, we can determine when key appliances (e.g. Kettle, Microwave, Dishwasher) have been used. Using data analytics, we can map out the pattern of a ‘normal’ day and issue alerts to the ‘caree’ when this pattern is disrupted.
The key findings of this Trial were that the users really liked the unobtrusive nature of this service (e.g. no cameras or motion sensors), simplicity of use and the ability of the ‘caree’ to monitor on a 24/7 basis without disturbing the ‘carer’. The other feedback was that this service would allow seniors to stay longer in their own homes and thus enjoy a better quality of life; their loved ones felt equally happy that they could keep an eye remotely and unobtrusively. Most importantly, such services would also relieve pressure on government funded social care. Informetis plan to launch this service commercially in 2021.
VII. Connectivity in the Home
The vast majority of smart entertainment device owners say they have connected their TVs and speakers to the home Wi-Fi, with this falling to around half for security devices and domestic appliances. The fact that Wi-Fi connection is similarly low for smart health monitoring devices probably reflects the fact that many will be paired to a smartphone via Bluetooth rather than part of the Wi-Fi network directly.
VIII. The Connected Home Ecosystem
a. Other products
A smart meter is the most popular smart asset outside the products already reviewed. Almost two thirds of smart meter owners also own a smart domestic appliance or some sort of smart energy and lighting device.
Do you own any of the following at your current home?
Transition to Net-Zero
In 2017, the IEA set out the potential for digital to impact on the energy demand associated with transport, buildings and industry . Smart themostats in homes, automated cars and trucks and mobility-as-a-service and building occupancy sensors were some of the digital innovations considered to have the biggest impact on energy demand.
Digital technologies can mean that we can circumvent the need to nudge behaviour changes through automation – effectively setting a default setting. There is evidence that setting the desired behaviour as default significantly increases adoption of that behaviour .
For example, current trends indicate that most homeowners who have thermostats do not apply settings for optimal energy use. Further, the amount of operational energy used by a building can be reduced by automatically adjusting temperature, ventilation and lighting in accordance with how a building is used. This could be as simple as movement sensors, but newer network-connected sensors and artificial intelligence systems can “learn” the use patterns of a building and anticipate change in advance. These technologies present an opportunity to deliver 15% reductions in building energy use.
Samsung Electronics UK, SmartThings Energy Control – Case Study
SmartThings Energy Control is an exciting evolution of the smart home developed by Samsung with Chameleon Technology, a leading smart energy technology company in the UK, and in partnership with Energy Provider Bulb.
It represents a significant step forward in the way people connect energy usage information and their carbon impact with practical, everyday actions like switching on the washing machine. With the ability to see detailed, up-to-the-minute information about energy usage via the app, and with the power to share that data with everyone in the household, SmartThings Energy Control gives people the power to make informed choices about their energy consumption.
‘SmartThings Energy Control’, a service that runs within the SmartThings app, helps people with smart meters monitor their energy use in (almost) real-time from the convenience of their smartphone or tablet. A simple, free to download app-based service, SmartThings Energy Control enables people to monitor their energy use and connect to their smart tech in a more dynamic, useful way.
While smart meters help increase awareness of energy usage, digital technology can help to create the behaviour changes required to make a difference to people’s pockets and their carbon footprint. With SmartThings Energy Control, we’re taking energy data off the wall and putting it into people’s hands. This innovation takes us into a new era of smart when it comes to energy management. It’s about enabling access to that data in a way that feels natural to people, so households are more empowered to make informed decisions about how to reduce and when to use their energy.
As well as reporting on how much energy usage costs, STEC can also provide data on carbon intensity so households can make greener decisions about when to use energy. Running pre-set oven programmes or dishwasher cycles outside of peak hours will help people to use energy at greener, cheaper times, helping members to save on their energy bills and lower their carbon impact.
Also, SmartThings Energy Control is not just a service for the bill-payer as it enables the whole household to get involved and individually see the impact of collective changes day by day. By working together, the entire household can reduce their overall cost and carbon impact without compromising bill-payer privacy or control.
Find out more about SmartThings Energy Control at www.samsung.com/uk/smartenergy
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the Proposals for regulating consumer smart product cyber security. This is the culmination of long-standing efforts between Government and industry which started with the voluntary Secure by Design Code of Practice for consumer IoT security.
techUK overwhelmingly supports efforts to improve the security in the consumer IoT space and sees these regulatory proposals as an important step in helping to stamp out poor security practices in the sector, which can act as a significant barrier on the take-up of consumer IoT devices. The principles behind this legislation have the potential to positively impact the security of devices made across the world and industry has been encouraged to see the Government work with international partners to ensure a consistent international approach to IoT security. Indeed, it is vital that these proposals ensure harmony with other markets, supporting UK business rather than adding complexity in terms of standards or customer communication.
The essence of the smart home is the interconnection of multiple devices – and the ability of some of those devices to monitor or control others. True smart homes are not collections of smart devices, but of connected devices plugging in to a few smart hub devices – each of which is, in turn, connecting to the broadband router.
Familiarity amongst products remains similar to our findings from 2019. The data shows two-thirds of people now own at least one smart home product: that truly is mass-market adoption. Even if we exclude people who only own smart TVs or smartwatches, we still have 47 per cent of UK consumers with smart home devices.
The strong growth of smart speakers over the last few years (7 per cent ownership in 2017, to 29 per cent in 2020) has made these the poster child of the connected home. However, when it comes using smart speakers to control other devices at home, less than half of owners are doing this. We are more likely to ask Alexa to play music, give us the news or weather, and tell us a joke than to switch on the lights or turn down the thermostat.
Despite relatively low excitement, “home/DIY” categories are also the ones where consumers express greatest interest in buying in the future. Drivers of take-up remain consistent over time, focussed on consumer confidence that devices will be easy to use and work together with other devices. However, there has been an increase in concerns around privacy – principally around smart entertainment devices. This may be driven by concerns around always-on, voice-activated devices “listening in” to conversations. techUK remains fully involved with the development of data policies and working across government.
Manufacturers and retailers will find it helpful to have a clear view of the different “smart” and “connected” layers within smart homes. They also need to remember that many smart devices are not actually very smart – so the challenge is to make them sexy enough to entice purchasers. That can be done by focusing your marketing on how products overcome any consumer concerns about smart home complexity as well as core benefits.
Call to Government for Action:
- While we very much welcome the fact that smart thermostats are in scope of the Green Homes Grant, future programmes directed to buildings need to focus on the whole range of smart products that can help residents manage their energy and heat.
- The Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government's (MHCLG) should recognise the future benefits of connected homes in the context of net zero and develop a smart homes programme to support and stimulate its deployment.
- Government departments should continue to work closely with techUK and its members as they develop data strategies, ensuring that consumer concerns around privacy and security are front and centre.