Global shipments of smart home speakers will increase this year due to fear of coronavirus germs, according to ABI Research.
With so many millions of people working from home, the value of voice control during the pandemic will ensure that this year, voice control device shipments will grow globally by close to 30% over 2019--despite the key China market being impacted during the first quarter of 2020, according to global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.
Last year, 141 million voice control smart home devices shipped worldwide, the firm said. Heeding the advice to minimize COVID-19 transmission from shared surfaces, even within a home, will help cement the benefits of smart home voice control for millions of consumers, ABI Research said.
"A smarter home can be a safer home," said Jonathan Collins, ABI research director, in a statement. "Key among the recommendations regarding COVID-19 protection in the home is to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas," such as tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, and sinks.
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Voice has already made significant inroads into the smart home space, Collins said. Using voice control means people can avoid commonly touched surfaces around the home from smartphones, to TV remotes, light switches, thermostats, door handles, and more. Voice can also be leveraged for online shopping and information gathering, he said.
When used in conjunction with other smart home devices, voice brings greater benefits, Collins said.
"Voice can be leveraged to control and monitor smart locks to enable deliveries to be placed in the home or another secure location directly or monitored securely on the doorstep until the resident can bring them in,'' he said.
Similarly, smart doorbells/video cameras can also ensure deliveries are received securely without the need for face-to-face interaction or exposure, he added. "Such delivery capabilities are especially valuable for those already in home quarantine or for those receiving home testing kits," Collins said.
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He believes that over the long term, "voice control will continue to be the Trojan horse of smart home adoption.'' Right now, the pandemic is part of the additional motivation and incentive for voice control in the home to help drive awareness and adoption for a range of additional smart home devices and applications, Collins said.
"Greater emphasis and understanding, and above all, a change of habit and experience in moving away from physical actuation toward using voice in the home will support greater smart home expansion throughout individual homes,'' he said. "A greater emphasis on online shopping and delivery will also drive smart home device adoption to ensure those deliveries are securely delivered."
The legacy of COVID-19 will be that the precautions being taken now will continue for millions of people who are bringing new routines into their daily lives in and around their homes and will for a long time to come, Collins said.
"Smart home vendors and system providers can certainly emphasize the role of voice and other smart home implementations to improve the day-to-day routines within a home and the ability to minimize contact with shared surfaces, as well as securing and automating home deliveries."
Additionally, he said there is value in integrating smart home monitoring and remote health monitoring with a range of features, such as collecting personal health data points like temperature, activity, and heart rate, alongside environmental data such as air quality and occupancy. This can "help in the wider response and engagement for smart city health management," Collins said.
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