It’s been almost five years since smart speakers first arrived in Australia, and now there’s almost no part of a person’s home that can’t be connected to the internet and controlled by shouting into a Google device or Amazon.
Data from tech analytics firm Telsyte showed nearly two-thirds of Australian households had at least one smart home product in December 2021, and around three million households had at least one smart speaker. Sales of connected home products reached $1.7 billion last year, the data showed, a 15% increase from 2020.
Telsyte chief executive Foad Fadaghi says all aspects of the smart home market are expanding, but some categories have seen exceptional growth since the pandemic.
“Smart doorbells have become indispensable as people depend on deliveries throughout the day,” he says.
“And once people get used to an external camera, they invest in other motion sensors, floodlight cameras, and other cameras around their house, which usually work in the same system.”
Many retailers now stock a huge range of connected home devices, including:
- Self-contained light bulbs or units that can be activated, dimmed, programmed, synchronized or recolored.
- Cameras capable of recording to the cloud or local storage and sending notifications based on movements or facial recognition.
- Doorbells that can be used as intercoms with visitors or track deliveries.
- Sockets and power strips that allow remote switching on and off of any appliance or device.
- Sensors that can report temperature, humidity, and pollution, or send signals to non-smart air conditioners, heaters, or purifiers to maintain air consistency.
But some of the most fundamental smart devices, and often the gateway to increased connectivity, are still smart speakers and displays. They are part entertainment devices for music, podcasts, or shows, and part smart home aggregators that can let users control their lights or other devices with their voice, or see their camera feeds and schedules on a central screen.
Although each device gives access to a similar smart assistant, they differ significantly in terms of price, size, quality and appearance of the speakers or the screen. For example, in Australia, Amazon sells five different versions of its Echo smart speaker and four different Echo Show displays, including the new $15 Echo Show, which is designed to be wall-mounted like a picture frame.
“It’s about giving customers options for whatever purpose or need they have,” says Kate Gooden, Alexa Product Manager at Amazon Australia. “If they have other smart things around the house, they can cram them into one place, or they can just dip a toe in the water and try something small that’s also on the lower end of the affordability bracket.