Smart Home Devices and Privacy: the Cost of Convenience
It’s no secret that the Internet of Things (IoT) is thriving and developing quickly. Everything from cars and appliances to toys and toilets are getting smarter. Smart home devices are first and foremost for adding convenience to your everyday life.
Smart device companies are capitalizing not on what consumers are asking for, but on what consumers didn’t think they needed until given the option. Consumers are welcoming this convenience into their homes, but smart technology comes at a steep price: privacy. With every smart home device, companies are able to gather data and details about your daily life. While these companies, like Google and Amazon, claim to use that data to personalize advertisements, it does add a creepy element to the devices.
Often, devices don’t record any data until they hear the trigger word, but devices can mishear and send private conversations on accident. Depending on who has access to the stored data, it could allow other companies to ding consumers based on their daily habits. In this article by ECN they use the example of an insurance company using data from a smart fridge or oven and allowing insurers access to that data and charging you for an unhealthy diet. While that example is hypothetical, it isn’t an impossible conclusion to draw. On the flip side, by tracking the same data, companies can also offer incentives or rewards to consumers for making healthy or efficient choices.
While the current smart device market is relatively small, it’s growing. It’s becoming more difficult to find no-frill devices with basic functionality. There is still a market for a fridge to simply be a fridge. Consumers still have the power to decide if they want smart devices adopted into their home.