Smart home tech is marketed to enhance your home and make life easier. However, UK consumers are not convinced that they can trust the privacy and security of these technologies.
To better understand consumers perceptions of the desirability of the smart home, researchers from WMG and Computer Science, University of Warwick have carried out a nationally representative survey of UK consumers designed to measure adoption and acceptability, focusing on awareness, ownership, experience, trust, satisfaction and intention to use.
The businesses proposal of added meaning and value when adopting the smart home have not yet achieved closure from consumers, as they have highlighted concern for risks to privacy and security.
Researchers sent 2101 participants a survey, with questions to assess:
- Awareness of the Internet of Things (IoT)
- Current ownership of smart home devices
- Experiences of their use of smart home devices
- Trust in the reliability and competence of the devices
- Trust in privacy and security
- Satisfaction and intention to use the devices in the future, and intention to recommend it to others.
The findings suggest consumers had anxiety about the likelihood of a security incident, as overall people tend to mildly agree that they are likely to risk privacy as well as security breach when using smart home devices, in other words they are unconvinced that their privacy and security will not be at risk when they use smart home devices.
It also emerged that when asked to evaluate the impact of a privacy breach people tend to disagree that its impact will be low, suggesting they expect the impact of a privacy breach to be significant. This emerges as a prominent factor influencing whether or not they would adopt smart home technology, furthermore making it less likely.
Other interesting results:
- More females than males have adopted smart home devices over the last year, possibly as they tend to run the house and find the technology helpful
- Young people ages 18-24) were the earliest adopters of smart home technology, however older people (ages 65+) also adopted it early, possibly as they have more disposable income and less responsibilities – e.g. no mortgage, no dependent children
- People aged 65 and over are less willing to use smart home devices in case of unauthorised data collection compared to younger people, indicating younger people are less aware of privacy breaches
- Less well-educated people are the least interested in using smart home devices in the future, and that these might constitute market segments that will be lost to smart home adoption, unless their concerns are specifically addressed and targeted by policymakers and businesses.
“Our study underlines how businesses and policymakers will need to work together to act on the sociotechnical affordances of smart home technology in order to increase consumers’ trust. This intervention is necessary if barriers to adoption and acceptability of the smart home are to be addressed now and in the future. Proof of cybersecurity and low risk to privacy breaches will be key in smart home technology companies persuading a number of consumers to invest in their technology,” said Dr Sara Cannizzaro from WMG.