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Forty percent of Australian homes have IoT-enabled devices, but experts question value of “bluetooth connected espresso machines”




Australia is in the middle of an “Internet of Things (IoT) revolution” according to one report, but experts are questioning how often people actually use internet-enabled devices.

Technology research firm Telsyte released an in-depth report into the IoT space this week, predicting the market is set to hit $5 billion by 2021 thanks to a significant uptick in Australian homes’ adoption of IoT devices.

Read more: Victoria moves to become a regional Internet of Things hub as local startup announces a big expansion

An IoT device is a product with the capability to connect to the internet or other IoT devices in order to provide increased functionality and in some cases, automation.

The report shows more than 40% of Australian households report having at least one home IoT device, which is an 11% increase from last year. These devices include smart TVs, smart energy meters, internet-enabled security systems, and IoT-enabled lifestyle devices such as smart fridges, thermostats, or toasters.

Telsyte estimates the average Australian household will have around 31 IoT-enabled devices by 2021, but David Glance, director of the Centre for Software Practice at the University of Western Australia, believes the perceived growth is “bollocks”.

Glance believes IoT devices in the home are rarely used, and many Australians who own these devices would rarely use them as they are of “minimal value”.

“Every Australian home has some sort of IoT device which they no longer use or never used in the first place,” Glance told SmartCompany this morning.

“Things such as smart TVs which have never been connected, or smart devices which are constantly running out of batteries.”

IoT devices at home have “minimal value”

Glance thinks IoT outside of typical home appliances, in products like security systems or baby monitors, are used by Australians and will continue to have a place in the market.

However, he says “Bluetooth enabled espresso machines” will not.

“For a broad range of other devices like automated door locks or thermostats, the market is not there for that. The value they bring is minimal,” he says.

“I can turn my air conditioner on or off from anywhere in the world, which might be useful once. In the terms of a fully automated home, we are a long way away from that.”

Senior analyst at Telsyte Alvin Lee notes IoT in the home is at a “very early stage”, with users still exploring what devices they want to have connected or which ones they don’t. Similarly, Lee believes consumers are already seeing the value of IoT through security systems and baby monitors.

Lee believes the value of IoT sits more with product manufacturers, saying the inclusion of the feature with some products may “not be for the benefit of the users”.

“With IoT, manufacturers would be able to push out updates to their washing machine or dishwasher to constantly improve the product, and keep an eye on it as well,” he says.

Glance believes it will be “interesting” to see how companies integrate IoT services, believing there’s a real need for it in specialist markets such as aged care and security. However, widespread use at home will require better integration and more confidence around security, Glance says.

Telsyte’s report also indicates around half of Australians surveyed are concerned about security when it comes to IoT devices, amid recent reports of compromised security cameras and video recorders.

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