A question of comfort – your home is becoming intelligent

It’s all about security, energy efficiency and comfort. There have been smart home products on the market for some time now. That many people are only now fully aware of these digital aids, however, is largely because many applications have only recently matured and become suitable for mass use. Some of the most important issues revolve around data security and compatibility. 

Much excitement, little data protection

This is also reflected in data from the German consumer research society, GfK: Sales of smart home products rose ten percent in the first ten months of last year to EUR 3.1 billion.  Already 30 percent of German households have digitally networked devices, as the current “Smart Home Monitor” from Dr. Grieger & Cie confirms. Above all the entertainment industry would hardly be possible without digitalization. Roughly one third of Germans have upgraded to smart TVs (36 percent), networked music (33 percent) and heating and lighting systems (31 and 29 percent), making acceptance in Germany comparatively widespread. This is also shown in surveys: Almost three-quarters of Germans are convinced of the benefits of smart home products – more than Great Britain and more than even technology-loving Japan. At least half (50.2 %) of Germans claim to be interested in new smart home products, whereas only one in five sees no use for these products.  Skeptics point to complex and costly installation, complicated operation, insufficient compatibility of equipment from different manufacturers or the fear of hacker attacks. Apropos data security: To show the importance of data and IT security in smart home systems, Sophos set up a so-called haunted house at CeBit 2017. At first glance, a completely normal model house. What is special, however, is its inner life. The house is equipped with all sorts of smart home applications and is set up as a honeypot to tempt hackers to “digitally break into” the house. Visitors then experienced firsthand how hackers from all over the world were able to remotely control doors, windows, lights and other devices.

Energy, entertainment and security

This experiment showed how far the conquest of the home through the Internet has advanced. The trend towards an intelligent home covers the major topics of energy management, entertainment and communication, building and home security, health and Active Assisted Living (AAL), as well as home automation and comfort. These include practical solutions, such as garden irrigation, coming/leaving home functions, intelligent heating and lighting systems, complex alarm and monitoring systems, presence simulations and the management of self-generated electricity. Currently 91.6 percent of all “smart” households use digital solutions for managing energy, 89.6 percent use products and applications for entertainment and communication, and 52.8 percent use smart home systems for building and home security.

Developers from the housing sector have also identified how much potential there is for smart home systems. They have direct influence on the technical equipment used in real estate. In a study by the consulting company, mm1, Smart Home Initiative Deutschland e.V. and the GdW Bundesverband deutscher Wohnungs- und Immobilienunternehmen, 85 percent of surveyed companies indicated that smart home systems are an instrument for marketing their properties. According to a Handelsblatt-trend study in collaboration with JUNG-Beratung, 58 percent of Germans would consider a smart home system for a newbuild, increasing to 69 percent for a renovated building.