The mystical world where anything that connects to the internet — including the appliances, devices and machines used in our homes and workplaces — will become ‘intelligent’ enough to preemptively service our needs is fast approaching. Referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT), some designers are expecting to see more developments and changes to the concept of the home in the next ten years than we’ve seen in the last ninety.
Yet the integration of these technologies vastly differs across the world, with each nation taking an approach to hire a programmer for IoT development in their own way. In fact, the use of this technology can even be manifested differently between neighboring cities.
Purchasing power only partly explains this divergence. Cultural preferences and different prioritization for various areas of our lives are all shaping which smart home technologies of the future we’ll be presented with and eventually adopt in our homes. We can see the beginnings of this now, with curated product lines for individual markets.
Consumer priorities for smart technology across countries
In the United States, many of the technological advances for the home are driven by convenience. Technology that takes care of location-specific tasks like kitchen appliances that order, prepare and bring food to the table would be expected to be wildly popular in the American market.
There would, however, be a few localization anomalies appearing in health-conscious states such as California. In these cases, technology focused around supporting an active lifestyle, like automatic climate controls or fridges that prepare healthful drinks after a workout, would be expected to be more successful.
Conversely, in Japan, it is not so much convenience that consumers are looking for, but technology that assists in caring for a growing elderly population. Considering they have one of the highest life expectancies among all developed nations, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
Here, the IoT is expected to outfit people’s homes with appliances and new technologies such as companion robots that are aimed at caring for elderly relatives. These bots will also be able to provide remote monitoring facilities and complete household chores like cleaning.
Other countries like the UK have a higher uptake of smart energy meters that allow adopters to visualize their consumption and automate the billing process with their energy provider. Spain and Italy, meanwhile, have shown to be more attracted to smart watches.
Integrating smart technologies
One of the biggest challenges to the adoption of smart technologies in homes across the world is not so much the natural disinclination we have to changing our behavior, but more the infrastructure it relies upon. Additionally, the ability for different appliances and devices to “talk” to each other can bring about difficulties as well.
For example, your smart meter needs to be able to talk to your home climate control device to ensure that the device isn’t racking up a massive bill at the end of each month. You could also imagine this situation with your fridge and oven, where the former makes sure the oven has preheated to the right temperature by the time the food is ready to be cooked.
While brands are getting better at allowing for interoperability of products, the infrastructure it relies upon — internet connectivity — is somewhat lacking in varying degrees across nations. While more than 51% of the world has some sort of access to the internet, many developed countries including the US, the UK and Japan still lack 100% broadband coverage. This blocks large parts of their populations from ever being able to access smart home technology.
Once governments in these countries make good on their promises of universal broadband for all, not only will communication and the workplace be completely transformed, but home tech will take off in a number of different areas to service the priorities of each culture.