Plume has released data and insights into smart home trends resulting from increases in the number of devices, types of devices, hours used and data used across smart homes. Plume's CTO Bill McFarland shares his insights below.
Our homes are becoming more crowded with smart and connected devices than ever, providing unprecedented convenience, personalisation, and enjoyment. While the pandemic accelerated and influenced some trends in the types of devices and patterns of usage in the smart home, Plume's analysis of the number, type and usage of devices found that many of these trends were in place pre-pandemic and are expected to continue post-pandemic as consumers embrace the overall value of smart homes. In addition to the expected increase in smartphone, laptop and tablet ownership and usage, Plume found that fitness devices, security cameras, voice assistants and connected cooking devices are all trending significantly upward.
Pandemic effect: COVID-19 caused consumers to increase devices in the home. The number of devices per US household increased by 38% during the pandemic, increasing to 18 devices per household on average, up from 13 in October 2019. This reflects two commonly reported trends during the stay-at-home orders: an increase in the number of family members living together as many young people returned from college or urban environments; and investment in technology as people spent more time at home. The most common smart home device was voice assistants, which grew by 28% from October 2019 to May 2021, followed by smart light bulbs, which grew by 110%, and security cameras which experienced 40% growth.
Prioritising fitness during the pandemic. In the US, as Americans scrambled to create home gyms, fitness smart devices and wearables surged in popularity. Fitness bikes and trainers have been at an all-time high—up 132% in May 2021 from October 2019. Tonal, in particular, experienced 190% growth in the US, with Peloton at 158% growth from October 2019 to May 2021. Wearables and smartwatches expanded with 51% growth during the same timeframe. Apple was the fastest-growing smartwatch, growing 54% since October 2019.
Entertainment effect: Homebound and streaming. As consumers were forced to stay home, they invested in smart entertainment devices to occupy their time. Entertainment-based smart home devices increased by 16% overall from October 2019 to May 2021. The most common smart entertainment category was TVs and streaming devices, which grew by 34% from October 2019 to May 2021, while traditional set-top boxes grew by just 2%. The fastest-growing entertainment device category was virtual reality which experienced 223% growth.
Is connected cooking here to stay? With many restaurants closed due to the pandemic, we saw consumers spending more time preparing their own meals and prioritizing high-tech convenience for the home. Smart cooking devices have been at an all-time high - up 60% in May 2021 from October 2019. The range and stove category, in particular, experienced 65% growth from October 2019 to May 2021.
Smart home security: more home network usage presents more cyber threats. As the number of smart devices increased, so did the number of security threats. Between October 2019 and May 2021, there was a 39% increase in the number of cyber security threats blocked by Plume in US homes.
Lighting, security and fitness are big movers in Europe. As European residents faced multiple restrictive lockdowns due to the pandemic, it's clear they sought out ways to make their homes more comfortable. Smart light bulbs grew 233% and security cameras grew 29% from May 2020 to May 2021. Voice assistants also experienced 13% growth during this same time period. Additionally, European residents sought ways to stay occupied and active during this time, as fitness bikes and trainers saw an increase of 67%. Among this category, Peloton was the most popular brand in Europe, experiencing 82% growth.
Wearables and smartwatches boomed in Japan.3 More Japanese residents turned to new ways of tracking their health, as the wearables and smartwatches category increased by 127% between May 2020 and May 2021. Apple watches in particular were the most popular and fastest growing device category in Japan with an increase of 131% during the same time period.
In the US, we are seeing 38% growth in connected devices per home on our cloud-controlled software defined network (SDN), and believe this is just the tip of the iceberg as more consumers see the value and realize the promise of smart WiFi and smart homes.
Personalised smart home experiences - the intuitive home - is the next big play. Consumers are now ready for the devices they use, and the services that connect them all together, to anticipate their needs and go beyond point solutions. That level of interoperability requires visibility and capability that crosses the entire home network and insights from a massive, global data set. CSPs, device makers, and application makers are all rushing to fill that need.