5 things to consider before buying your first home IoT product

October 2, 2014 OpenSystems Media

The Internet of Things (IoT) is booming and consumers looking to build a smart home are able to reap some of the great opportunities and benefits that connected devices have to offer. According to the 2014 State of the Internet of Things Study, 69 percent of consumers are planning to buy an in-home Internet of Things device in the next five years. Despite them being available though, doesn’t mean you should run out and buy the first smart home device you can find.

As an ode to the next five years of IoT smart home adoption, here are five things to consider before purchasing your first in-home device.

1. Cost
Adding connectivity to a product used to cost manufacturers hundreds of dollars. Now, it can be added to a product for less than $10 in bulk, making things like Wi-Fi thermostats and automated kitchen appliances affordable to the consumer. While these technologies are obviously cool, it’s also important to make sure the cost of the product is worth the benefits it provides. Does this device make your life easier? Is there a one-time fee or monthly fee involved? And another cost item to consider: does this product potentially save you money in time, electricity, etc.? For ideas on how to make your house a smart home on a budge, visit Techly.

2. Ease-of-use
Devices in your smart home are only helpful when everyone can use them. You may be an IoT early adopter and can navigate through connecting a product to a network and enabling its different features, but if your significant other or children can’t figure out how to turn on a light, they are going to remain in the dark (literally) about that device’s functionality and potential benefits. Think about who will actually be using the product, not just about whether you can use it. A great in-home IoT product would be easy from set-up to its daily use.

3. Features and benefits
There are already hundreds of smart home products on the market which means you are going to find several brands of smart door locks, water sensors, smoke detectors and more to choose from. With so much innovation present in the IoT world though, companies are finding ways to add features to their products that they never could before. Do your research and find which smart products have the features that you want and need in your home. Maybe you need a water sensor to alert you when your basement is flooding but maybe you want a water sensor that not only alerts you but also shuts off the water to your house too.

4. Interoperability
A major problem for anyone pursuing a connected house is that the more devices you bring into your home, the more separate apps, hubs, and networks you need to operate them. With this, the convenience you were hoping to achieve may become cumbersome instead. Many companies are trying to relieve some of this irritation by creating single systems. For example, Apple announced HomeKit several months back to encourage device makers to connect to iOS for controlling smart home products. The goal of this is to create a standard system of how smart products in the home operate and communicate with one another. Until some of these systems come out though, be conscious of which products you buy, which will work together, and whether you are okay with two separate devices that don’t.

5. Will I actually use this product? What problem am I trying to solve with this product?
One of the most important things to consider before buying a connected device for your home is whether or not you will actually use it. The IoT provides a lot of cool products with mind-blowing features, but that doesn’t mean that you should own all of them. Start by identifying the problems around your house that you want to fix. From there, find the solutions in one, or a variety, of available IoT products. A smart plug, thermostat or door lock may be a good place to start but when it comes to things like a connected toaster… that can wait.

Adam Justice is general manager of the ConnectSense line of wireless sensors from Grid Connect.

Adam Justice, Grid Connect
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