UK buys 21.8 million smart home devices

UK consumers bought 21.8 million smart home devices during the pandemic, a 22 per cent rise in volume, new research from techUK has found.

According to the technology trade association, smart TVs and speakers led the higher sales.

The study, which explored the adoption of smart home devices in 2020-2021, revealed that global the market could grow from $78 billion this year to $182 billion by 2025, if consumer concerns over privacy and costs are addressed.

Further barriers to the adoption of the technology include increased Asia-Europe shipping costs, because many smart home devices are produced in the region.

techUK highlighted a number of recommendations for the government and wider industry to support continued deployment of smart home products.

It said that while “smart home” is a familiar concept to consumers, tech firms and retailers should focus on communicating the tangible consumer benefits of smart and connected home devices and to reassure consumers on ease of use, interoperability, and privacy.

With interoperability a mainstream concern for consumers, it needs to be a priority for manufacturers, said the organisation. Failure to address these risks seeing reducing demand, increasing frustration and creating a perception that smart home tech does not meet expectations, it warned.

The industry body called for regulation and policy on product safety, cyber security, and net zero to be aligned, suggesting that all the various policies and strategies need to complement each other and be trusted by stakeholders.

“With the UK developing so much policy post-Brexit, there needs to be real care and attention to consistent approaches and shared goals,” it said. “Government should promote smart appliance adoption in the UK's future product policy framework. Smart appliances that support a flexible energy system and offer safety advantages should be seen as routes to meeting climate, energy and product safety goals.”

Finally the association asked for a stronger understanding of how smart home tech can play a key role in delivering a fully flexible energy system.

“The pandemic has really demonstrated how important digital technology has become in keeping us connected, entertained, productive and educated, and the data shows how familiar the public has become with smart home tech,” said Craig Melson, head of devices, techUK. “People really see the benefits of connected devices now and the challenge for tech firms is to make sure all the devices work together and instil the highest possible confidence that it will just work.”

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