Tech literacy is the new normal among older, younger adults and how? Delhi-based Chandni Mahajan’s grandmother religiously uses Amazon Alexa or sometimes Google Assistant on her smartphone. The sheer convenience and the comfort of a command from her bed makes her stick to the usage of this gadget. She smiles and winks, feeling elated to hear answers from Alexa on health-related queries.
Another young homemaker Rashmi Singh has a child who started home baking classes during the pandemic. She uses Apple’s Siri to mark events in the calendar, bakery orders, set reminders, list her ingredients or translate Italian recipes to English. “I use voice command to make hand-free calls to friends and family members, my son can play games on Alexa, read books and so much more by a single voice command,” says Singh.
The dependence on such ‘life’ controlling gadgets is more prevalent as the world shifts to easy-to-use voice commands. While such devices are for convenience, comfort or monitor safety-security of loved ones, voice assistant gadgets enable family members to engage with smart devices without any restrictions.
In fact, with IoT gaining popularity, the concept of connected homes is on the rise and people are increasingly adopting smart home appliances that can be easily controlled using smartphones or voice assistants. The trend is particularly notable among the tech-savvy millennials who are looking for smart and innovative products which come with the promise of saving time, energy and money.
Thus, voice controlled smart speakers, TV, lights, ACs, fridge, washing machines, security door locks are driving the usage of smart homes in India. “The ecosystem of voice assistants has changed the dynamics of how we live in the digital world. With convenience and comfort being the underlying factor of our homes, this trend is not only seen in metros but also in Tier 2 and 3 markets with the integration of several Indian vernacular languages,” says Vishal Kaul, vice-president, lighting, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals.
The brand launched a series of wifi-enabled products like LED lamps and battens under the name Immensa, which ensures the comfort of operating the lighting through the ‘MyCrompton’ mobile app while the convenience of managing it anywhere and anytime via its voice controls through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
A recent study conducted by technology market research firm Techarc suggests the smart home adoption and usage trends in India. The study collected inputs from over 1,200 smart home users residing across metro and non-metro cities. Over 92% of the smart home users responded that voice-control has made it convenient to set up a smart home. More than 90% users purchased their first smart home device in the past two years. Besides smart speakers, smart TV (81%), smart lights (56%) and smart ACs (55%) are the top 3 home appliances that are mostly operated using voice.
As the usage of smart homes has increased across Indian households, almost 92% users say that voice-control has made it convenient for them to set up a smart home. “Among factors like increase in penetration of fixed broadband and need for automation in homes due to pandemic, the convenience of interacting with home appliances through voice has emerged as an essential factor driving smart home adoption,” says Faisal Kawoosa, founder and chief analyst, Techarc.
Another smart technology brand, Orient Electric offers energy-efficient products including fans, air coolers, water heaters, and lighting solutions. The fans are IoT-enabled and voice-controlled, and the bestselling models include Aeroslim and i-Float which can be operated via Orient Smart mobile app or with voice commands via Alexa and Google Assistant. It controls ceiling fans remotely with a mobile app or with voice commands, manages speed, modes, timer, integrated lighting, etc.
“The rising aspirations of the Indian consumer, with a greater penchant for convenience, will continue to drive the demand for smart gadgets in the future,” says Atul Jain, executive vice-president, Orient Electric.
The study also highlights how ‘Smartisation’ is inevitable for creating a sustainable brand. Many incumbent brands manufacturing home appliances such as TVs, fridge and washing machines have been able to maintain their position as the preferred choice for customers because of ‘smartisation’ of their range of appliances. Newer brands providing smart home appliances have an edge in categories such as smart lights, smart security, smart plugs and IR blasters because of their competitive pricing and features.
“There are thousands of smart home devices compatible with Alexa across categories like bulbs, plugs, locks, cameras, ceiling fans, etc, ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 1,50,000. The wide selection has made it convenient for customers to get started on their smart home journey,” says Parag Gupta, director and country manager for Amazon Devices, India.