Knowing all of the amazing things we can do with technology would make it easy to assume that home automation should be further along than it is. The industry has made great strides over the last decade, but it seems as though home automation is a toddler still walking around and trying to find its place in an adult world of existing technologies. Unfortunately, it has been toddling for longer than originally projected.
So what is holding back home automation in the 21st century? It isn’t just one thing. It is actually three things that are working together to dampen enthusiasm. Get these three things out of the way and home automation will explode all across the world.
1. Public Perception
As things currently stand, home automation suffers greatly from issues of public perception. There are two things to deal with on this front. First is the perception that home automation devices are too complicated for the average person to use. It is the same thinking that dominated the VCRs and programmable thermostats of the 1980s. Those devices were not as complicated as they were made out to be. They were just different.
The second perception problem relates to need. For example, are we really so lazy that we cannot be bothered to walk across the room to flip a light switch? Do we really need to be able to turn that light on and off with a voice command?
In terms of need, most of what we consider home automation is not necessary. The world moved along just fine without it. But home automation is never about need. It is about efficiency, comfort, and convenience. Once people embrace that thought instead of debating over laziness versus need, substantial changes will happen.
2. User Interfaces
The second thing holding back home automation is the user interface (UI) landscape. Right now, the entire market is fractured to such an extent that people are afraid to dive in. Every manufacturer wants its own proprietary system. Google Home works one way, Amazon Echo works another way, and companies like Vivint Smart Home sell entire home automation systems with separate UIs.
We saw something similar in the early days of the PC. There were a lot of players offering different operating systems on proprietary machines. Things didn’t change until consolidation was introduced. We are now down to three players that do things in similar ways: Microsoft, Apple, and the Linux community. We need the same thing to happen in home automation.
3. Security Concerns
Last but not least, home automation will never reach its full potential until its inherent security weaknesses are adequately addressed. It is still too easy for hackers to breach video cameras. Google and Amazon still use home automation to invade privacy and mine data. The list goes on and on.
Despite more people willing to be less secure in their ignorance, things change when they are made aware of real security risks. Right now, the security risks inherent to home automation are pretty well known. They scare people enough to keep them on the sidelines.
Home automation has absolutely come along way over the last decade. We can do things now that we previously imagined through TV, films, and books. But the technology still has a long way to go. Suffice it to say that the home automation industry is far from mature.
Change public perception and you have the basis for something big. Solve UI issues and security concerns and public perception gets even better. Until those three things are addressed though, automation will continue being held back.