A customer checks out a door bell
A customer tries a new doorbell product with a hidden camera at Sharaf DG. In the UAE more people are investing in smart cameras, motion sensors and doorbells, experts say. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Smart home solutions are slowly gaining traction but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to raise awareness and enhance the end-user experience, industry experts said.

“The wide variety of products and fragmentations [convergence and interconnectivity of different applications] makes it a challenge for the players within the category to have a focused approach in developing the market for a robust take-off,” Isaac T Ngatia, senior research analyst at International Data Corporation, told Gulf News.


value of smart home market in MEA region in 2018

He said the platform lock-in (where certain brands will not work with other brands) presents a key challenge to the growth of smart home devices, and even the interconnectivity of devices, platforms and operating systems remains a key issue.

However, he said there is a drive towards open platforms that support multiple voice assistants.

For example, Sonos and IKEA are collaborating to develop SYMFONISK, with an open platform for a better home sound experience.

The category will grow when end users see the benefits of smart home technology and technical issues become fewer, he said.


projected value of smart home market in region this year

According to IDC, the smart home market in the Middle East and Africa is expected to grow an annual rate of 22.85 per cent by 2022.

But, according to Statista’s Market Outlook, revenues from the smart home market in the Middle East and Africa is expected to be worth $678 million (Dh2.48 billion) in 2018 and growing to $1.025 billion this year. The market is expected to reach $2.815 billion by 2023, at an annual rate of 32.9 per cent. The household penetration is at 3.9 per cent in 2018 and it is expected to hit 15.5 per cent by 2023.

Ngatia said that smart appliances such as fridges, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, etc are already available in the UAE, although not at high volumes, and the cost of these devices is still relatively high.

However, he said home security and monitoring devices will be the main category movers in the foreseeable future.

Mohammad Meraj Hoda, vice-president for business development at Ring, an Amazon company, said that 60 per cent of the purchases in the US is more geared towards home security devices.

In the UAE, he said that people are investing in smart cameras, motion sensors, and smart doorbells to get notified when there is a movement in the house.

“Smart cameras stay at the forefront and this is not due to crime, as in other parts of the world, but is more for convenience when they are travelling and working parents to keep an eye on their kids or home maids,” he said.

He added that independent homeowners install smart security devices and most of the new buildings are already secured by these devices.

Ngatia said that consumers will only derive the benefits when the vendors provide the expected experience from the devices.

While IoT is a key enabler, he said and added that the ultimate ‘moment of truth’ will be derived from experiencing the benefits of connecting these home appliances.

What is a smart home?

It is a term used to define a home that has smart devices that are connected to the internet and can be controlled remotely with a smartphone app over WiFi.

What products come under smart home?

• Small and large home appliances
• Cameras, doorbells, locks, motion sensors, etc
• Light bulbs
• WiFi-connected smart speakers
• Thermostat
• Smart TVs, streaming sticks, etc.

Smart home appliances available in the UAE?

Samsung has a FlexWash washing machine that enhances performance using data from user interactions, recommends best wash cycles, optimises laundry schedule and enables remote troubleshooting. It has displayed its smart fridges at its Dubai Mall stores and is expected to start selling in the UAE soon.

LG has an InstaView fridge that does remote troubleshooting, set the refrigerator temperature from outside via its Smart ThinQ app. Call the LG customer service and place the phone on the appliance and it [appliance] communicates with a computer and provides a solution after diagnosing.

LG’s washing machines and air purifier can be remotely controlled by the app.

Several consumer electronics retails carry smart speakers, wifi-connected light bulbs and themorstats from vendors such as Siemens, Nest, Phillips, and LifX.