In September last year we released our take on Gartner’s technology Hype Cycle, our version maps the latest technology trends for the UK social housing sector. Along with our predictions for emerging technologies on the verge of making waves in housing we also highlight technologies that seemed to be the next big thing but this year have lost some of their shine.

In our ‘trough of disillusionment’ is the connected home, in 2015/16 there was considerable excitement and anticipation surrounding the potential for social homes to become connected homes. A deluge of hardware was appearing – technology designed for the consumer market with the potential to be adapted for housing and even some bespoke hardware designed with housing as its primary market.

The mood now is rather different, the limits of the technology underpinning the connected home are beginning to be felt both inside and outside of housing.  Here at Launch Pad HQ we came across a great blog on Mokriya dissecting why the connected home has failed to make the impact that some had predicted in the consumer market – its arguments are also very valid in housing where we’ve recently seen the first housing IoT company – 365agile cease its IoT operations.

So what’s wrong with the connected home:

Wojciech Borowicz over at Mokriya breaks it down to two key failing of the companies entering this space.

“Novelty is not value”

Establishing the value a product offers is key to success in any market. In IoT there has been a focus on novelty at an expense of use case. In the consumer segment we have had connected light bulbs that are fun but no one can quite see a use for, this has limited their sales to early adopters and the curious and not led to the promised connected home revolution. In housing the situation is similar but slightly more complicated. For housing providers to really believe enough in connected home technology its value proposition must be concrete. Housing providers need to see and understand the value of providing infrastructure to support connected devices. Products should be able to offer real business benefits that warrant the investment in connectivity and the implementation across their stock. Right now that has not been demonstrated effectively – more pilots with good evaluation are needed here to help build this picture.

“Move fast, break home”

A tendency from some in the startup world to build now think later has not filled consumers with confidence and the same applies to landlords.

In a home the things you use most often such as your door lock, light switches and heating system just work. As Borowicz says ‘these things haven’t fundamentally changed in 50 or more years – hundreds of years in the case of locks. New IoT products have been guilty of building new functionality without getting the basics right – it’s not good enough for your connected Bluetooth door lock to work 8 out of 10 times when your key does it just fine 100% of the time; even if your bluetooth door lock enables you to remotely open the door to a plumber. Getting the basics right is important when you build for people’s homes and even more important when you’re a landlord responsible for tens of thousands of homes. If everyone’s smart thermostat goes offline and residents are left in the cold the cost of remedy let alone the reputational damage would be phenomenal.

Morikya point to good research, industrial design and simplicity in value proposition at places such as Apple, Amazon (Echo) and Roomba as key to these products massive success versus many of the others that have still failed to get traction.

For technology coming into housing this translates as: engage with housing more, test, evaluate to ensure you get the product design right. When landlords see robust products that offer real value to their businesses sales will follow – the connected home is waiting to happen but only when value proposition is right.

HACT Digital works with technologies moving into the housing sector to help them engage with the issues and challenges housing faces effectively.  -if your building technology and want to make sure it will have the right impact on housing get in touch.