In 2023, Homes Get Smart about Data Security and Privacy
by Ryan Weaverling and Calan Smidt
Consumers have embraced the smart home, discovering the ease with which tech-enabled home products allow them to manage their lives. Between May 2021 and May 2022, three out of four Americans reported purchasing a smart home device. For homeowners who prize efficiency and convenience, smart home devices like security products, HVAC controls and everyday smart appliances allow them to intelligently run their homes like well-oiled machines.
But the newly created troves of personal data have brought privacy and security concerns to the forefront of consumer consciousness recently. The collection and safe storage of sensitive information generated by the digital economy is a growing point of tension, and consumer opinions and behaviors are evolving.
These changes have given rise to a new generation of privacy-minded home products, magnified by the fast-growing interest in developments like Matter, a new language for smart home devices. Let’s look at what’s changing and why Matter — well, matters.
Consumers increasingly value data privacy and security
American consumers are struggling to achieve balance when it comes to their personal data. It’s central to the highly personalized and digitized experiences they desire, and yet, they feel challenged and overwhelmed by trying to control and protect who can access their digital data. A 2022 public poll revealed that 84 percent of those surveyed were at least somewhat concerned about the safety and privacy of their personal data on the internet.
With online security concerns mounting, most Americans want the federal government to establish national data privacy standards. Despite numerous proposals over the years, Congress has yet to pass comprehensive data privacy laws in the U.S. As states begin to enact their own privacy-rights legislation, consumers are taking matters into their own hands. They are balancing their enthusiasm for connected home devices by embracing new offerings that treat their information with greater care.
The connected home moves from public to private
The end of 2022 brought to the marketplace a new smart home standard called Matter. Not familiar with Matter? Now is the time to get acquainted because we believe Matter will bring enduring change to the smart home services landscape.
Matter is an industry-unifying standard designed to make it easier for home devices to communicate. Many consumers have found their quest for a smart home fell short of being intelligent. With a patchwork of products that require their own apps and can’t be managed universally by a single voice assistant, homeowners seeking convenience struggled with added complexity.
What’s more, the disparate landscape meant a myriad of cloud-based services were continually pinging their data across the internet. Matter creates an ecosystem where different devices can communicate more securely. Matter works over a local network, meaning commands and data can be passed via a homeowner’s private home network, and not routed through a cloud server. Remote cloud servers add a layer of risk for device users. For example, last spring Ring security camera users were alerted to a vulnerability that could allow hackers to access their camera recordings and extract sensitive data.
Designed with security and privacy as core tenants, the Matter standard uses a layered approach for device authentication and strong cryptogenic algorithms for network communication. Matter also intentionally limits the data shared within interactions to minimize the risk of leakage.
What’s next for the home services industry
The new era of the secure smart home has begun, and those in the industry must prepare to meet consumers’ mounting desire to manage their home lives more intelligently and securely.
In its first version, Matter 1.0 will cover only certain categories of devices that include:
- Light bulbs and switches
- Smart plugs
- Smart locks
- Safety and security sensors
- Media devices including TVs
- Smart blinds and shades
- Garage door controllers
- HVAC controllers
But the stage has been set for a more sweeping smart home revolution. It won’t take long for consumers to realize the benefits of connecting disparate home technology into a more secure and seamless ecosystem. Matter 1.0 is expected to drive renewed adoption of smart home products. With Amazon, Google and Apple all supporting Matter, being Matter-compatible is soon to be table stakes for those in the industry.
Bottom line: when it comes to smart home security and privacy, Matter isn’t a passing trend. It will soon usher in a new era of smart home security, and home services businesses that want to matter in the minds of consumers should prepare now. To see examples of how the teams at SA keep track of market trends and equip their clients with the tools needed to succeed, visit the home services page.
Ryan Weaverling is the director of technology and Calan Smidt is a data systems strategist at SA. SA is a full-service national marketing agency with more than 40 years’ experience serving the home services industry. Learn more here.