Smart home technology—comparing householder expectations at the point of installation with experiences 1 year later

2019-09-11T14:23:42Z (GMT) by Luis Oliveira Val Mitchell Andrew May
This study, with 19 households, set out to analyse the expected benefits and anticipated challenges to the introduction of smart home technology (SHT), and to compare these to post-use experiences after living with the technology for 1 year. Contextual interviews were undertaken with householders during the installation of a range of SHT, and again approximately 1 year later, when householders had the option to keep the technology or have some or all of it removed. This identified whether initial expectations were met, whether initial concerns persisted and whether new issues, concerns, and benefits (that had not been initially anticipated) arose after an extended period of use. Initial expectations from all households were high—related to comfort, convenience, improved control, energy demand reduction, and integration of technologies. There were also many initial concerns, including reliability, usability, and how these systems would be ‘domesticated’ to fit existing routines. After living with the systems for 1 year, many expectations were met, but the added value (and hence the match between expectations and reality) was higher for households with varied routines and large, partially occupied houses. Some of the anticipated challenges—such as concerns over aesthetics—largely disappeared, issues to do with the awkward location of network components persisted and new issues arose relating to the usability of some components and the time and effort required to configure them. Recommendations are given to maximise the added value that SHT can provide to householders.