You have just had a long day at work. The temperature is soaring. All you want to do is get home, have the air conditioner set at 18°C; get a cold drink from the refrigerator and immediately start preparing dinner as you watch your favourite television programme while at the same time monitoring the wash cycle of your washing machine.
Making all this possible is the Internet of Things (IoT). Arguably the best innovation of our time, it makes remote communication between people and everyday items such as television sets, fridges and washing machines possible. This new technology is turning the once-simple home into a smart home, adding a new dimension to the world of consumer electronics.
(TOP: Hyun Jung Park, MD, Samsung Electronincs East Africa, checks out the new quantum dot cadmium-free super-ultra high-definition SUHD TV).
Perhaps the impact of IoT is best outlined by the IoT TV that applies SmartThings technology, allowing the TV itself to act as the controller for the entire smart home.
Case in point, Samsung’s 2016 SUHD TVs with SmartThings can connect with and control smart sensors and more than 200 smart devices including connected lights and locks, thermostats and cameras, and a wide range of high quality third party manufacturers.
As such, SmartThings allow consumers to access all their smart devices directly from their smartphone and SUHD TV, rather than having to control individual devices with a multitude of separate apps, through a single, simple user interface. For instance, with an outdoor camera connected to a Smart TV, people can check when visitors arrive and choose to deny or allow entry.
Over the years, the consumer trends have evolved in tandem with growing income and lifestyle changes. It is estimated that number of consumers of electronics in Africa will rise to 1.5 billion by 2030 from one billion in 2010 resulting in an increase in consumer spending.
A visit to a good number of homesteads and entertainment joints reflects the trendy lifestyle of the urbanites. Their living standards, ambitions and aspirations of a life of affluence is evident in the nature of electronic gadgets that decorate their premises.
It is worth noting that manufacturers of the electronic devices are cognizant of this fact and have responded with electronic appliances that fit into the consumer’s living space and augment their dwelling areas.
Charles Kimari, Business Head, Home Appliance Division Samsung Electronics East Africa, says that researching and observing people’s daily lives, and designing easy to use gadgets driven by consumer needs and advanced technology is the inspiration behind IoT.
He argues that consumers continuously demand for convenience, efficiency, elegance and smart gadgets to improve their lives.
From the IoT ready SUHD TVs connected with the SmartThings platform that allows users to connect, manage and control smart devices and IoT services, to the AddWash washing machine with a smart check enabled on a phone that allows you to monitor laundry progress remotely, Kenya’s bulging middle-class, with a disposable income and a penchant for good living, is driving the smart home.
According to Mr. Kimari, IoT is on a steady increase in the region. “The growing uptake is as a result of the market being a dynamic one, as opposed to a static environment. Consumers are gradually taking on IoT one product at a time. What is most common is the use of mobile devices to control home appliances such as washing machines, TV and residential AC. Consumers are finding it more convenient to be able to carry out their daily home activities at their convenience using their mobile devices. For example, you can be in the kitchen preparing a meal while monitoring the wash cycle of your washing machine via your phone.”
Electronics manufacturers operating in Kenya have been angling themselves to take advantage of the growing appetite for up to date home appliances.
The desire to own property in Kenya goes hand in hand with grandiose decor that declares the affluence of the home owner. Day after day consumers are demanding for more smooth and easy to operate features in the electronics sold to them. The manufactures have also taken notice of this preference and as such there have been all sorts of advancements on the ‘old’ versions.
Correspondingly, the 2016 Vodafone IoT Barometer report indicates that the use of IoT is expected to rise in everyday business with more than three quarters (76 percent) of businesses saying IoT will drive future success.
By applying IoT technology into current household devices, manufacturers are making it easier for consumers to experience the benefits of a smart home.
“In the near future, consumers’ homes will all be totally interactive in the sense that your refrigerator can tell you the quantity of food left and what needs to be added as per your personal settings. Consumers will be able to do much more at the touch of a button. Samsung is at the forefront of IoT globally. Therefore, the products being developed for near future use are aimed at being IoT enabled for the larger population,” says Mr. Kimari
In spite of this, pricing of products that are Wi-Fi enabled is on the higher end, therefore only those with higher purchasing power can afford these.
“Availability of reliable wireless connectivity also hinders IoT seeing that it fully relies on wireless connectivity and even when it’s available it may not be stable. Knowledge about it and product availability is also a key challenge. The African market is not fully developed for IoT enabled products,” adds Mr. Kimari.
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