Smart home devices are supposed to make our lives easier, but if they suddenly stop working without warning, they can end up doing just the opposite. According to new research, more than one in 10 people have reported incidents of their internet-connected devices failing prey to technical issues that go unresolved.
Parks Associates surveyed consumers of smart home devices to find out more about how people interact with them. What they discovered was that 12 percent of smart home device owners in the United States have had a device become basically unusable due to a technical issue. Many of those problems went unaddressed for a significant period of time.
It’s worth noting that the research actually found the number of total problems reported dropped — just 14 percent of people said they had one or more problems of any kind with a smart home device in the past year. But the problems that did occur went unresolved at a higher rate, which of course is a serious problem, especially for appliances that perform vital services.
For example, if your internet-connected thermostat suddenly stops working and there’s no clear fix, it’s going to be a cold winter in your place. Likewise, if your home security system ceases operating correctly, it’s going to be hard for you to feel safe in your own home. Because a steady Wi-Fi connection is essential for most of these devices, spotty service can also lead to ongoing issues with devices.
Patrice Samuels, senior analyst for Parks Associates, chalked the issue up in part to the devices getting more complicated and the ecosystem of products getting more diverse. “Strong value is achieved from the smart home when devices communicate with each other, but diversity in device technology and communication protocols adds complexity to the smart home and creates challenges in achieving seamless communication,” he said in a statement.
Smart home device manufacturers can cut down on some of these issues by offering more robust support solutions. When folks are left to read through technical documents or handle complex tasks on their own, it’s more likely that they’ll just let the busted device gather dust. That’s not great for the consumer or the companies serving them.
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