Voice assistants. Smart thermostats. The ability to have appliances schedule their own maintenance appointments.
The future of smart home technology is no longer coming – it’s already here. And according to a panel of technology experts at the 2019 Entrata Summit, the new challenge is finding ways to effectively and efficiently scale and integrate these technologies within the apartment rental industry.
Advancements in technology, lower prices, and increased ease-of-use have all led to a major boost in the adoption of smart home devices in the industry over the last few years. And according to most projections, this trend will continue into the foreseeable future.
“The costs of these devices are being driven down, and the experiences people are having with them continue to improve,” said Lee Bienstock, the Head of Enterprise Partnerships (Americas) at Google. “Smart speakers and smart displays are currently in 40 percent of US households, and we predict this number will surpass 50 percent by 2020.”
The increased adoption of these technologies suggests they’re making a positive impact on residents’ lives. And while making lives easier for residents is a step in the right direction, these devices need to be able to communicate with each other to provide the optimal living experience.
“The ecosystems of these technologies are increasingly open and working together more and more,” said Nate Sundloff, Strategic Account Sales Leader at Best Buy. “This is extremely important when releasing technology for the home. I think we’ll continue to see advancement in this area along with a big focus on the development of the infrastructure to support this as we move forward.”
So how has this increase in adoption changed renter preferences in recent years? For many renters, the use of smart home technology at their apartment is no longer a nice-to-have but is an expectation. It’s important that apartment operators strategically consider these evolving renter expectations when making future plans for their communities.
“Residents don’t expect a lesser user experience in an apartment than they would in a single-family home,” said Chase Harrington, president and chief operating officer at Entrata. “These technologies used to be more common in single-family homes, but they’re now expected across the board. It’s crucial to keep this in mind when planning for upgrades and growth in your communities. ”
Another aspect of smart home technology apartment operators need to consider, and that is a hot topic in the technology world, is the privacy concerns of residents.
“There are big concerns about the gathering and use of data,” said Sunggy Koo, Vice President of IoT at Samsung. “We need to be transparent on how we’re using data and give users the power to opt-in or opt-out on the ways their data is used. Transparency is key when it comes to handling these concerns.”
That said, the amount of data users allow companies to use can directly impact the quality of the user experience. According to Bienstock, it’s all about finding the right balance between data use, privacy, and the functionality of these technologies.
“Let’s keep in mind the different types of data,” said Koo. “It’s not just personal identification information. Are residents okay with appliances automatically sending updates to a maintenance team? Ultimately, it depends on the benefit to the user. Residents are more willing to allow data use if there’s transparency and they understand how they’ll benefit from it.”
With the future of smart home technology now here, this panel believes the industry is prepared to take the next steps and solve the problems required to leverage these technologies in a way that improves the total user experience.