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In our modern digital age, technology permeates every facet of our lives. Ongoing innovation means consumers are constantly faced with the choice of which new technologies to adopt.
From Bill Gates’ vision of a computer in every home in the 1980s, society witnessed the widespread adoption of personal computers, followed by the internet revolution in the mid-90s, and the ubiquitous presence of smartphones in the 21st century. Each technological evolution transformed how we communicate, access information, and manage our daily lives, setting the stage for another paradigm shift.
As we marvel at the journey from PCs to smartphones, a new question arises – what’s next? The answer seems to lie in smart home technologies. In a world where convenience, efficiency, and interconnectivity are prized, the idea of a home equipped with intelligent systems that automate and enhance living is not far-fetched.
We asked consumers in the US and UK which technologies they use and plotted them on this adoption curve:
Innovators & Early Adopters First users of a new technology, ~13.5% of people.
Early Majority When ~34% of the population adopts a technology. Pragmatic consumers who adopt after it has been tested and proven by early adopters.
Late Majority When ~68% have adopted a technology. Includes skeptics who adopt because it has become the norm or because they feel compelled to do so.
Laggards The last group to adopt a technology (the remaining portion of the population - around 16%), adopt only when it becomes essential or unavoidable.
Attitudes Driving Adoption
The adoption curve holds up behaviorally (what they have) and attitudinally (what they say about comfort with tech).
When asked “which of these characters best represents your relationship with technology?” 15% of those surveyed are confident with technology, aligning with the early adopter percent. Conversely, 15% aren't tech-savvy and get overwhelmed, which aligns with the laggard side of the curve.
The majority of people of all ages and backgrounds feel comfortable with technology. Common themes include ease, empowerment, and a twinge of cautiousness around a continuous learning curve.
Blobs is a creative projective technique to elicit emotions and associations
Most people recognize the positive contributions that modern technology has brought to the world and to their individual lives. Attitudes toward Smart Home tech trend similarly, with most respondents indicating that the benefits of the technology outweigh the perceived risks.
Home Sweet Smart Home
Focusing on the US market, about 30% of respondents report owning at least one smart home device, and of those Smart TVs are by far the most popular across all age groups:
Audio/Visual technology is the most popular category within the Smart Home space, with streaming devices and smart speakers taking the #2 and #3 spots when it comes to adoption levels.
Boomers tend to lag behind in adoption of most new technology, while Gen Z and Millennials lead the pack. This is especially true with wearable health trackers and audio & visual recorders.
However, the generational adoption gap seems to be less severe in certain areas of the Smart Home space. Boomers and Gen X slightly outpace both Gen Z and Millennials in the adoption of Smart TVs.
Boomers are also in line with Gen Z in adopting Smart Lights, followed closely by Millennials and Gen X. Though the adoption rate in this category remains fairly low at 18%.
Other Smart Home tech categories have a clear standout generation that is adopting at rates almost double the next closest generation. For example, Gen Z outpaces in adoption of Smart Kitchen Appliances while Millennials outpace in the adoption of Smart Thermostats.
Home Safety - A Fundamental Human Desire
Home security devices tend to see more consistent adoption levels across generations. While there could be many possible explanations for this trend, the answer may lie in the innate human survival instinct that compels us to safeguard ourselves and loved ones from harm. New technology helps us achieve that sense of security in the place where we want to feel our safest - our homes.
So What's Next?
The next frontier, perhaps, lies in increasing the adoption of these smart home technologies, enhancing their features, and integrating them to offer a more cohesive and automated smart home experience.
As we stand on the brink of another technological evolution, it’s crucial to ponder on the implications, opportunities, and challenges that smart home technologies present. Will they find a place in every home, becoming as commonplace as the PC once was? We are yet again at a crossroads, where innovation, adoption, and adaptation will shape the future of our digital lives.
We’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you perceive smart home technologies fitting into the daily fabric of your lives? Are we on the brink of another tech adoption wave akin to the PC and mobile revolutions, or are there unique challenges that might curb this technological enthusiasm? Share your insights and join the conversation!
the buzz: Data collected in August 2023, 535N census matched US respondents