Predictions Week Highlights: Interview with Leila Rouhi, Ring

The concept of the smart home is more relevant than ever before. Our Connected Consumer Radar shows that adoption of some smart home devices is hovering at about 10% of households in advanced Western markets. What’s more, such devices are high on people’s minds when it comes to the next smart gadget they want to buy. Smart doorbells top the chart in the UK and US, in Germany it’s smart lights, and in Spain, robot vacuum cleaners.

As part of our Predictions for 2022 and Beyond event, I had the pleasure of discussing the future of the smart home with Leila Rouhi, president at Ring. Acquired by Amazon in 2018 and benefiting from its immense reach and distribution, Ring is quietly making its way to people’s front doors, and is one of the major players in the smart doorbell and smart security camera areas.

We started by talking about the Covid-19 pandemic and the effect it’s had on the way people live. After spending a lot of time at home since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, people are becoming more willing to put money and effort into improving their home security. Unsurprisingly, Ring has seen huge interest in its products and new uses for them.

Leila spoke about the importance of a simple user experience in attracting not just early adopters, but also less tech-savvy customers to the smart home realm.

A big question when it comes to smart home devices, particularly doorbells and security cameras, is privacy and data security. I was particularly keen to understand how Ring deals with the trade-off between safety and privacy. But Leila noted that people don’t have to choose one or the other. She spoke about the importance of trust in becoming people’s security provider, and of the attention Ring gives to privacy.

We also discussed Ring’s philosophy that security is a neighbourhood issue. The company has an interesting feature in its products called Sidewalk, which allows people to share a small part of their home Internet connectivity with their neighbours. In return, they get uninterrupted functioning of their smart doorbell, even if their Wi-Fi network goes down, as the device simply transfers to a neighbour’s network.

Finally, we talked about the longer-term future of the smart home, when home devices will be interoperable and able to “talk” to each other. Leila agreed with our prediction that over the next decade, the adoption of smart home technology will develop on two different planes. We believe that point solutions such as smart doorbells and robot vacuum cleaners will continue to see strong take-up to 2024. But, the advent of more deeply integrated homes where products from multiple manufacturers communicate seamlessly will take another decade. The smart home landscape is still fragmented, but over time companies will get incentives to collaborate and unleash the full potential of the smart home.

I hope you enjoy my discussion with Leila as much as I did!

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