Smart Home

Controlling smart appliances: Most use apps, many are interested in voice control

Although interconnected smart home devices are not yet widespread in households, there is a great potential for growth in the future. This was shown in a recent representative survey conducted by YouGov on behalf of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH. Depending on the type of device, anywhere between 1 and 18 per cent of households surveyed in Germany and the UK currently use smart home solutions. A larger number were interested in intelligent lighting control, where 30 per cent of those surveyed in Germany could imagine themselves using such devices in the future. (See the results of the gfu smart home survey)

Another aspect of this survey asked how respondents would prefer to control their smart home. Is it enough to control and monitor these devices via an app, or would respondents be interested in giving voice commands to Siri, Alexa, or the Google Assistant? Most current smart home solution owners believed control via an app was sufficient. Of those surveyed, 54 per cent in the UK and 51 per cent in Germany said that app control was good enough, and they did not usually issue voice commands. However, a good third of smart home device owners in Germany (35 per cent) and around a quarter in the UK (26 per cent) reported that they prefer to control their smart home by voice wherever possible.

Improvements needed: While commonly criticised in the early days of voice assistants, the susceptibility to errors due to “misunderstanding” is no longer the main reason for most users to avoid voice control. In the UK, only 31 per cent say they would use their voice assistant more often if it were less error-prone; at 35 per cent, this figure is slightly higher in Germany.

“Voice assistants have well established themselves on the market in many forms, but the – actually logical – link with smart home functionality is far from common,” notes Dr. Sara Warneke, Managing Director of gfu. She continues: “It is interesting to try to predict, based on the trends shown by research, the point at which voice control will become the norm in everyday life.”

*The data is based on an online survey conducted on 7-9 July 2021 by YouGov Deutschland GmbH, in which 4,269 people took part, 2,057 in Germany and 2,212 in the UK. The results were weighted and are representative of the respective country’s population aged 18 and over.