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Privacy: The One Thing Keeping So Many from Home Automation

It is safe to say that home automation is no longer in its infancy. It is not even in the toddler stage. Many smart home devices are well on their way to maturity. Others are not far behind. The entire industry is moving along at quite a brisk pace. So why are many consumers so resistant to it? One word: privacy.

The global home automation market is estimated to be worth some $63 billion by 2025. Likewise, millennial home buyers are expected to want properties with integrated home automation features. Insurance companies are expected to offer premium reductions for technologies that increase efficiency and security. And yet, global market penetration isn’t expected to exceed 22% within the next four years.

The main issue for a lot of people is privacy. In order to realize home automation’s full potential, homes must be connected to the cloud. That means data moving back and forth at all hours of the day. And whenever data is flying through the cyber sphere, privacy is at risk. That is just the reality.

Smart Speaker Privacy Issues

If home automation had a poster child for privacy concerns, it would be the smart speaker. Vivint Smart Home says popular devices from Google, Amazon, and a few other companies dominate the market. Unfortunately, tech companies have admitted to recording large volumes of data gleaned from those devices. Even after promising to change data collection policies, they have failed to stop the practice.

The most common response when confronted with data recording is that it is only done to improve the technology. Let us assume this to be true. Anyone given access to recorded data can still use it for nefarious purposes. There is no way to stop rogue employees from listening in on conversations and doing what they want with the information gleaned.

Perhaps a better way to improve the technology is to pay people to sit around and have normal conversations. Then use that data to make improvements. Better yet, tech companies could use their smart speakers to record their employees as they go about their normal business. They could get more than enough data.

Device Security Breaches

Another concern is the very real possibility of home automation devices being breached by hackers. Such fears are not merely the stuff off wild imaginations. Serious breaches have already occurred. Home security cameras have been hacked by video voyeurs. Smart speakers have been hacked and used to taunt homeowners. The list goes on and on.

The challenge is deploying home automation on a secure network. And unfortunately, most home networks remain notoriously insecure despite our best efforts to change that. Home networking is insecure by its very nature.

It’s All About Risk Aversion

Privacy concerns have always existed. They existed long before the advent of the internet and digital technology. So what’s the difference between those who embrace home automation and those who avoid it? Risk aversion.

Millennials have grown up on technology. They are used to it. They are used to everything in their lives being connected to the internet in some way. Therefore, they are less fearful of the privacy and security risks that come with it. Older people are different. Because they weren’t introduced to technology until their adult years, they are less likely to trust it implicitly.

Home automation will continue growing over the next several decades. It is inevitable. And as it does, fewer people will be afraid of it. Privacy concerns will evaporate, and security strategies will improve. But for now, privacy is the one thing keeping so many people away from home automation.

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