Home Automation Week in Review

Report Type: 
Week In Review

Device + Service

Ring announced it will charge for features on several products which were previously free. Specifically, owners of Ring doorbells and cameras will lose free access to Home and Away Modes - features which will now require a monthly fee (starting at $3.99 a month). Modes is a feature on the camera telling the device to stop detecting motion when you come and go.  Additionally, new users of the Ring Alarm system will have to pay for a Ring Protect plan in order to perform a variety of functions including arming the system from the app, use of the Modes feature, and voice control via Alexa. Linking some extra devices to the system will also require a premium.   These changes go into effect on March 29.

The NPD Take:

  • Ring is the latest in a line of manufacturers to require a monthly subscription for connected services.  While much of this pivot in business model is about generating new revenue, often monthly fees are instituted to help support aging devices or the server costs incurred over the life of a device. 
  • Consumers mostly resist the idea of a monthly fee on top of the cost to buy a device, however examples of firms charging monthly service fees (after establishing with the buyer they would not charge) have increased.  With that, brands should be cautious to balance which features are paid and which remain free to maintain customer loyalty.

Xiaomi Sees a VR Powered Smart Home

Xiaomi showcased a pair of augmented reality glasses at Mobile World Congress last week, a prototype it says will allow users to interact with the smart home. Called the Wireless AR Glass Discovery Edition, Xiaomi is targeting the growing augmented reality market with two “retina level displays’ which project virtual objects within the field of view. The prototype works with Qualcomm’s second-generation augmented reality platform.  In the smart home demonstration, wearers could interact with devices with hand gestures, turning a smart light off with the pinch of two fingers or looking through on-screen prompts using swiping movements.

The NPD Take:

  • It’s only a matter of time until XR (extended reality which includes virtual and augmented reality) is used to interact with the smart home.  As consumers await new VR hardware, developers are creating new experiences to increase the appeal of these devices and Smart Home control is a natural move. 
  • Companies including Apple, Samsung, and Google own some of the largest Smart Home platforms in the industry and each are reportedly developing XR products.
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