“Alexa, play some jazz!” The robot vacuum cleaner swishes around the room to the relaxing sound of Herbie Hancock. When someone opens the door to the balcony, the heating automatically lowers the temperature setting to save energy costs.
The smart home has now become a reality for many tenants and homeowners alike. Not only that, digitalisation is set to prompt further changes to the way we build and live in homes. The focus is not just on intelligent devices featuring smart voice control, but above all on networking automated solutions, otherwise known as the internet of things (IoT). But how willing are the people of Switzerland to embrace the digital transformation within their own four walls in the shape of smart home technology?
According to a survey conducted by Ofri, the Swiss platform for tradespersons, in 2019 just 57% of those surveyed in German-speaking Switzerland were familiar with the term “smart home”. Just 20% of Swiss citizens use a networked device in their homes; by contrast, in neighbouring Germany half the nation would like to link up all their technical devices as part of a network so that they could control them digitally. Meanwhile in the US, around 70% of the population would be reluctant to part with their smart home devices.
Alongside televisions, networked lighting and sound systems are the most popular smart home features as far as the Swiss are concerned. Apple HomeKit is the number one smart solution in Swiss homes, followed by Amazon’s Alexa. Greater convenience and quality of life are the reasons most frequently cited for using smart home devices, followed by considerations such as security and energy efficiency.
“Demand for smart home solutions is still a niche issue on the Swiss real estate market.”
The push towards digitalisation that has been accelerated by the pandemic has made all our lives far more digital: spending hours on screen working or learning from home can be tiring and awaken a yearning for analogue alternatives. Trends that run counter to the digital transformation include a more pronounced appetite for nature or the pleasure taken in making things by hand – it is no coincidence that topics such as DIY, slow food and mindfulness are enjoying huge popularity. It remains to be seen to what extent smart home solutions hold their own or even tap into further market potential amidst these competing trends. Ultimately, the key issue will be whether smart home applications are sufficiently user-friendly to appreciably improve the at-home experience and to provide clear benefits in terms of security, the environment and cost savings.
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