According to research by IDC into the global smart home device market, 832.7 devices will be shipped in 2019, a figure it expects to rise to 1.6 billion in 2023 as consumers adopt multiple devices and the availability of products increases.
By Kuldip Singh Johal, VP of sales for subscription broadcasting, Universal Electronics
In a bid to capture this lucrative market and get ahead of the competition, smart device operators are beginning to focus on improving customer experience, looking specifically at the following areas:
Whereas we usually associate smart devices with a set of specific commands and phrases, advances in natural language processing are enabling operators to develop more intelligent devices that are easier to communicate with.
This is allowing users to create and configure their own custom commands for an improved and frictionless user experience. For instance, if the user is about to settle down to watch a film they could say “enter movie mode” and could trigger the lights being dimmed and the curtains being closed.
Further to this, smart devices are becoming much more intuitive, with action or feedback tailored to the first comment the user makes. For example, if the user says, ‘what time does ‘X’ football match kick off today?’, AI will process this initial command and intuit what the user might want next, perhaps asking if they would like a reminder for it or like to record it.
Through the use of AI, the device has an awareness of the user as a person and what they might want tied to the original command, as well as the other devices the user has within their home. This means users can communicate with their devices more naturally and get to the action they want faster than before.
One of the biggest challenges encountered by smart device users is actually setting up the device in the first place. As a growing number of consumers have more than one smart device and not always from the same brand, connecting all smart devices within the home can prove even more of a challenge.
As they focus on the customer experience, simplifying this process is becoming more of a priority for operators and manufacturers. Consequently, more devices are emerging on the market which talk the user through set up and find other devices within the home which it can connect to using IR codes.
This is resulting in much smoother, faster installation of these devices within the home and allows consumers to easily connect multiple devices to create their own ecosystems. This offering not only improves the user experience but could really make an operator stand out from the crowd.
In the future, we are likely to see smart devices using sensors to detect movement to allow consumers to create physical commands for interactions that aren’t quite suited to voice, such as turning the volume up or scrolling when looking for a film to watch. In these examples, users would be able to move their arm up or down to indicate which way they want the volume to go or move their arm across to prompt their television to scroll to the next page.
The next development from here may be the introduction of facial, however, operators would need to consider privacy worries which could come as a result of this. Instead, less of a security concern would be to use sensors to help devices recognise each user based on their build, rather than the device being able to see and record images.
It’s essential that smart device operators are designing and creating products that are not only desired by consumers but can be quickly adopted and ultimately make their day to day lives easier, and key to achieving this is research and development. Understanding what users want, need and expect is critical to getting this right.
However, taking it a step further, it’s also important that smart devices can be used in a way that suits the consumer; including functions that are difficult to navigate will result in a failed product, regardless of the features it boasts. Vitally, operators have to produce products that address a need; even if it’s a need that people aren’t yet aware of.
With PwC expecting £10.8bn to be spent on smart home devices in 2019, operators are competing to gain a bigger share of this market. As a result, we will see operators innovate even further, pushing the boundaries beyond voice control and into image control, resulting in an even greater user experience and a wider range of products on offer.