Connected technology has the potential to transform every area of our lives and none more so than how we run our homes. Initially starting in 2013 with the launch of Hive, the unique home control system which allows consumers to control their heating and lighting from their phone, the connected market has really developed.
Despite consumers initially being wary of the technology and the concept of controlling their heating remotely/from their phone, in the last four years Hive has gone on to launch further generations of its products and expanded its range as its offering has become much more mainstream.
Expanding into other areas of the home, consumers are now able to access connected appliances for all areas of home, from the Amazon Echo, which uses far-field voice recognition to do everything from read audio books to report traffic and weather news, to our Hoover Wizard range of Wi-Fi-enabled kitchen appliances that can be operated remotely via an app.
We have seen a steep rise in the number of smart gadgets/appliances launched to market in the last twelve to 24 months and I firmly believe this is only the start. Brands worldwide have spent years investing in the development of their connected offering and for global brands such as Google and Amazon it’s become a race against time to see who will launch the most advanced smart home system. In April, Google is due to reveal the much-anticipated Google Home product in the UK which will directly rival the Amazon Echo.
Leading the way for retailers and recognising the scale and potential of the connected market, last year retail giant John Lewis launched a 1,000-sq.ft. ‘smart home’ department in its flagship Oxford Street store, to visually demonstrate the benefits connected appliances can offer. The area boasts four zones including kitchen, entertainment, sleep and home monitoring and the company has devoted time and money to ensure its employees are all specially trained for the interactive zone.
Commenting on the launch of the new department, Mintel’s recent ‘Kitchens and Kitchen Furniture – UK’ report acknowledges that John Lewis has taken an important step in improving consumer understanding of the connected home and I have to agree with this. For many, the sheer functionality of connected products is overwhelming and without seeing the products/appliances in operation it can be very hard for an individual to understand how they would benefit from the
It’s not just large department stores that are recognising the value of having dedicated connected appliance areas within their store, increasingly independent retailers are also coming up with innovative ways to showcase the connected home on a smaller scale.
Connected appliances are currently being embraced by the early adopter who seeks new technology and wants to be the first to experience the benefits. However, as the concept of connected appliances and how they can enhance everyday life become further understood, we expect more consumers to demand kitchen appliances that are Wi-Fi enabled.