Looking behind the marketing hype
What’s in a name?
“Smart” is now a marketing buzzword. If a product is “smart,” the implication is that it will make life better for the user than its “dumber” counterpart.
But looking beyond the hype, just what is smart tech?
Defining smart technology
So, what is smart technology? Surprisingly, pinning down a definition can be difficult. Is it connectivity with the Internet? Is it artificial intelligence? A built-in capacity to learn from the environment? Is it app driven? Or is it a combination of all those aspects?
Netlingo offers this definition of smart tech:
The term “smart” originally comes from the acronym “Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology” but become widely known as “smart” because of the notion of allowing previously inanimate objects—from cars to basketballs to clothes—to talk back to us and even guide our behavior.
An article on Medium.com by Yogesh Malik defines three basic kinds of smart tech.
- Smart devices have some automation and can be easily programmed through an intuitive user interface. Think of a smart coffeemaker that you program to make coffee at a certain time. Network connectivity is not needed.
- Smart connected devices are remotely controlled or monitored via Bluetooth, LTE, Wi-Fi, wired or other means of connectivity. Examples would be a smart bulb, smart security camera, smart refrigerator or a smartphone.
- IoT devices are software-defined products that are a combination of product, application, analytics and the Internet/networking. They create more value than smart or connected devices. That’s because they are more scalable, upgradable, automated and future ready. Think of smart cities, smart factories and smart homes.
Smart tech for consumers
So, what does smart tech mean for those of us who sell to consumers?
When it comes to consumer products, Talk-Business.com has this:
A basic definition of smart technology is that it goes beyond just the normal sending and receiving, consumer searching for information and the traditional turning things on and off. Instead, it offers the consumer much more interaction and control, through use of the Internet. Much of this definition refers to smart devices—phones, TVs, appliances, cars, personal assistants, etc. Consumers are certainly warming to the idea of using smart tech to control everything from their home security systems to their thermostats.
With the fast pace of today’s rapidly evolving tech world, when “smart” is used in consumer marketing, it implies both the device and network connectivity.
Smart tech growth
A smart home is different. Its very name implies many devices tied together.
Automation has been around for decades. But the smart tech era is adding more devices with a new, personal spin. Among other things, interconnected tech saves energy and makes the home more secure. It catches water leaks before they become disastrous. It makes kitchen and housecleaning chores easier. And it changes up lighting and entertainment options to match moods.
Thanks to their voice-activated personal assistants, smart speakers form one of the bridges between stand-alones and smart homes. Once considered a novelty by consumers, the power of voice assistants is now apparent. As smart homes encompass a wide variety of tech, many of the latest smart household devices are compatible with voice assistants. Even some hub-centric systems with a control module can even interact with a voice assistant.
Smart home acceptance
A 2018 report from GfK, a data and analytics market research organization, shows that one-third of US consumers own two or more smart home devices.
- Over one-quarter (27%) of US consumers have more than three Smart Home devices
- Another 7% own two or three
- Half of all people surveyed have at least one Smart Home technology—with Millennial (25-to-34 years of age) ownership almost reaching two-thirds (64%)
- 58% say smart homes (a home in which most things are interconnected) will likely change their lives in the next few years
- 68% percent of millennials expect devices from different vendors to talk to each other (even though that’s not the current reality)
- Other emerging tech that may change lives: Digital Payments (52%), with Wearables, Cloud Computing and Connected Cars all scoring between 30%–40%
Home smart home
Hopefully, this helps to answer the question, “what is smart technology?” The appeal of smart tech in the context of a smart home is growing. Are you keeping up? Petra carries a wide variety of smart technology—especially for the home. Click on our SmartestHome™ category on petra.com and start browsing. We have hub-based, personal-assistant-based and even DIY app-based products sure to find their way from your shelves to installers’ trucks and customers’ homes.