Those who want to convert their "stupid" home into a smart home often struggle with teething problems and incompatible technology.
The visit to a model apartment shows: In a real smart house, the technology moves into the background, most of it happens by itself.
As convenient as it may be, one danger remains: the more networked devices, the greater the risk that hackers will find and exploit vulnerabilities.
Now scan in the QR code on the packaging. "So the big box is brought in. This is the basic equipment that makes a house smart and safe – to a networked home." Connected home. Safer home "is written on the red cardboard box, but where is the QR code? There is a bar code, but the smartphone app does not accept it.
In order to put the starter package of Vodafone and Samsung into operation, two online accounts had to be opened before that, one for the Samsung Cloud, one at Vodafone. And the smartphone was still downloading software until it was ready to go. Maybe not such a good idea to unpack the system in the evening. Where the hell is this damn QR code?
"Soon we will be surprised that there were devices without voice control"
The Ifa opens on Friday in Berlin. Christopher Meinecke from Bitkom explains the trends.
Interview by Moritz Zajonz
"I try out pretty much everything that exists in the smart home sector," says Achim Berg. Berg, 54, computer scientist, former telecom manager, ex-Microsoft manager, has been President of the IT industry association Bitkom since 2017. He admits, "Installing smart home devices has become easier, but it's still complex."
Too complex for people who are not well versed in computer and Co. like Berg? This is indicated by the results of a study recently published by his association. "Home, smart home", she is called. It states that only nine percent of respondents who already use such devices have also put them into operation themselves. In almost half of the cases, these were instead craftsmen, electricians, for example, or heating installers. The rest is shared by friends and relatives.
One in four households in Germany already uses smart devices
But there is also another figure in this study, in which more than 1,600 people in Germany were interviewed: 26 percent of them already have a smart device that is connected to the Internet. "One in four is on the way to becoming an intelligent home," writes the Bitkom Association. At the Ifa, the fair for consumer electronics and home appliances, which took place in Berlin, home networking was one of the main topics.
But what is that, a smart home?
"Our idea of it is shaped by films," says John Grøtting, Group Design Director of the design agency Fjord. For example, voice-enabled assistants like Amazon's Alexa or Google's Assistant are far from being able to communicate as freely as shown in science-fiction movies. The computers in the movies always understand the context in which something is said, "but Alexa does not know what we've talked to her."
Smart Homes are not really smart at the moment, Grøtting says: "The term 'Smart Home' suggests that the systems have at least a basic form of intelligence, but as of today, most manufacturers only offer new light switches." Only when the smart home device actually provides more comfort and security and also helps to save money, one could speak of intelligence. "These things are coming, but the question is when."
"If you talk only about technology, you scare those who do not want to deal with it"
If you let Manuel Nader, the managing director of the German branch of Loxone, an Austrian manufacturer of smart home systems, lead you through the show apartment in the Swabian Wäschenbeuren, one can have the impression that this future is not far away. It stands out especially – that nothing really stands out. In the factual-modern apartment is a lot of technology. Only she keeps herself largely in the background.
You can not see that the simple luminaires can produce all kinds of lighting moods. The speakers, which supply the rooms with music on request, are hard to imagine. If you leave the bed in the bedroom at night, you do not have to grope for the light switch. Sensors detect it, and just enough light is shining under the bed that the sleeping partner will not be disturbed.
Smart home, which is often presented confusing, says Naders boss Rüdiger Keinberger, one of the three CEOs of Loxone. At Loxone, too, at the beginning there was a strong emphasis on technology. "But if you talk only about technology, you scare those who do not want to deal with it." When one of the two founders, Thomas Moser, wanted to build a house with smart functions himself ten years ago, he discovered that it was very complicated and expensive. So, with co-founder Martin Öller, he developed a specialized, small computer, the so-called Miniserver, which was supposed to control all the functions of a clever house.