A Homes.com survey found that while most understood the value and necessity of the investment in new tools and gadgets, there were quite a few who worried the technology would facilitate some kind of hack.
If you look at anything long enough, it’s likely you’ll think about ways to improve or even just change it. Many who were largely confined to their homes contributed to the surge in home improvements like new or upgraded home offices, kitchen and outdoor rec spaces. Sixty-eight-percent of consumers also enhanced their living spaces by investing in smart home technology for entertainment (who didn’t enjoy binging streaming series?) and convenience, according to Homes.com, which surveyed 700 homeowners and renters.
Nearly half (49%) of those homeowners and renters admitted the situation wrought by the pandemic convinced them to buy smart-home technology for the first time. In the last month, the number was 15% who made their first smart-home tech purchase. A third said they started using smart home products anywhere from a year to three years ago.
“In the last year, Americans really relied on their home environment more than ever,” said Gillian Luce, director of consumer marketing at Homes.com. “With so many people staying inside, we were not surprised at all that they used that time to implement or upgrade their home’s technology.”
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Home security during the pandemic was critical, notably to those who were working from home, because the change from in-office to in-home was so swift, many IT departments couldn’t cover all the employees with access to what-should-be-secure files.
“We saw that technology related to work assistance was one of the leading reasons for respondents to upgrade their systems; this lines up with our recent data of more people looking to purchase homes with office space,” Luce said. “Since our homes also became our home offices, everyone looked to replicate all of the technology they would commonly see or really counted on in a ‘traditional’ office space.”
Therefore, 70% of respondents implemented smart technology to bolster their homes’ security capabilities. The security of smart home products remains a major concern, with 47% worried about getting hacked, 44% about breach of privacy and 37% about identity theft.
In the arena of non-security home tech, smart speakers and displays topped the list of smart pandemic purchases at 69%, followed by smart doorbell and lock systems (53%), home security systems (36%), smart thermostats (31%), pet cameras and feeders (23%), robotic vacuums (23%) and smart outlets (14%).
It’s also not necessarily paranoid to voice concern that smart items that “listen” to you will open you and your family to privacy breaches because 40% of those surveyed said that was their top concern, followed by the products malfunctioning (32%) and it causing accidental purchases (27%). More than half (55%) of respondents have had at least one of the three breaches happen to them.
“It came as no surprise that the more time spent at home also meant the increased need for security measures, but some of the concerns regarding the devices were a little surprising,” Luce admitted. “People prioritize their family’s well-being during a time of uncertainty by focusing on security/safety devices in the last year, but, ironically, users who purchased home security systems cited concerns with the device’s security capabilities, almost half believe they are easily susceptible to hacks or identity theft! That was a little unexpected.”
Overall, the adoption of home technology has been accelerated by COVID-19 lockdowns in a big way. Without people spending so much time at home, it’s possible interest in these products would have gained so much steam so quickly.
The living/family, bedrooms, and outdoor/porches are the most popular rooms to turn smart, while the least-smart are bathrooms, basements and garages.
“The most popular smart home products spurred by the pandemic were smart speaker systems like Amazon’s Alexa (69%), followed by smart doorbell systems like Nest and Ring (53%),” Homes.com reported. Not only are the smart doorbell systems ideal for practicing safe coronavirus protocols, but since you can catch who walks up to your door via video on your smartphone, and even talk to them, whether you’re actually at home or out, it’s also convenient and fun.
“It’s possible these trends could reverse, but more likely they will not,” Luce said. “Once consumers implement technology into their routines, they are generally less likely to return to the old way of living. Plus, our survey findings suggest that even after the pandemic it’s expected that we all be able to work from home, to some degree, for the foreseeable future. So these devices will have a purpose and need for a long time coming.”