In 2020, gyms became watches, dining rooms became offices and restaurants came in bags, changes that have resulted in 29 percent of homes having at least one smart home device–a 20 percent increase from one year ago.
As adoption of technology that enhances the at-home experience increases, so do consumer pain points around that technology. During a CES session ‘The Next Big Thing: Home As the New Headquarters,’ CNET editor at large Brian Cooley explores these issues with Jennifer Kent, senior director at Parks Associates, Paul Lee, head of technology, media and telecommunications research at Deloitte London and Megan Wollerton, senior writer at CNET Smart Homes Center.
Research from Parks Associates shows that just 15 percent of consumers had used telehealth services before 2020, as older consumers believed that virtual care couldn’t compare to in-person visits. For the first time, Kent says the firm saw a use case that challenges that, with the number of consumers using telehealth growing to 41 percent during COVID-19. At the source of this shift was people’s fear of contracting the disease during in-person doctor appointments, she notes.
Though consumers are increasingly purchasing connected health devices such as a connected weight scale or smart thermometer, Kent says the data from such devices isn’t integrated with telehealth services, causing a major pain point.
As per Lee, the term ‘telehealth’ is effective as it conveys a familiarity to patients, particularly elders, who may be reluctant to use these virtual services. For the medical industry, Lee emphasizes the importance of having a standard method of communicating telehealth services, and creating a piece of technology that doesn’t make patients more worried.
Lockdowns have also been a boon to the wellness and fitness tech space. In September, Peleton reported a 172 percent surge in sales and a user base of more than 1 million for its streaming classes. The brand recently launched a new indoor cycling, Bike+, and is debuting a new treadmill called Tread in March this year. Similarly, in mid December Apple announced Apple Fitness+, a new fitness service for its Apple Watch.
Wollerton says the complaint she hears frequently from CNET readers about smart home devices is that while they add value to their lives, they still don’t touch on their biggest pain points, namely reducing or alleviating challenges associated with achieving work-life balance at home. On these consumers’ wishlists are devices that can help reduce the time and energy required to cook, do laundry and the like.
Lee says one major area where today’s technology falls short is its inability to recreate the spontaneous moments that occured in the physical workplace pre-pandemic.
“There’s no digital equivalent to those spontaneous conversations, elevator pitches and chats as we walk along, say, to the cafeteria. Zoom and other products like that are fantastic for the meeting room replication, but the reality is business is about more than just the board room,” says Lee.