With the rise in smart devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) has started to make its way into homes across the world. Although estimates vary, it is likely that around 17 billion connected devices were being used globally last year and predictions suggest that this figure will grow fourfold by 2025.
IoT devices feature an IP address that allows them to connect to the Internet and to other devices and they include everything from smartphones, tablets and TVs through to baby monitors, light bulbs and smart speakers. They bring a myriad of benefits, in particular their ability to help homeowners control domestic appliances leading to better efficiency, energy reductions and money savings. But, as our new report points out, users also need to be aware that these devices have some drawbacks.
The smart technology inherent with IoT connected products can potentially reduce their lifespan. Consumers are aware that laptops, tablets and smartphones have a relatively short lifespan, particularly when it comes to keeping up with technology advancements. But, domestic appliances with in-built obsolescence? That’s hard for customers – accustomed to using their fridges, freezers, washing machines and TV’s for years -- to understand. And where does it leave the electrical trade who are in the front line when it comes to dealing with customer complaints and queries?
With the addition of every new component also comes the greater risk of a technical fault. These are sophisticated components and not easy to fix, so the likelihood is that we will see a rise in domestic appliance recalls, and a rise in replacement purchases as appliance lifespan reduces.
The report also highlights the issue of cyber-security. In 2016 hackers used IoT connected digital recorders and webcams to disable the Internet infrastructure provider behind some of the world’s biggest and most popular websites. These included Twitter, the Financial Times, Netflix and Spotify and the attack disrupted millions of users. It was estimated by some security observers to have cost the companies involved up to $110 million in revenue and sales. The attack prompted an outcry in the media with the BBC asking ‘Could your ‘smart’ home become a weapon of web destruction?’
Within a week of the incident, a Chinese manufacturer hit global headlines as it launched a massive recall of its cameras when they were found to have security flaws that could have been compromised in the attack. And this is the worry for all manufacturers of connected devices. Now, more than ever, there is a focus on whether their solutions actually pose a real risk to homeowners. This level of scrutiny will result in more products coming under the spotlight and inevitably, if security vulnerabilities are found, this will mean more recalls, and worse, legal action.
So, there is clearly a balance to be struck between embracing the many advantages of IoTsolutions and the enhancements they bring to our lives, with the challenges that they can present.
Because of the attention that IoT devices are getting in the media, it is inevitable that regulations will soon be developed to protect consumers. These, along with the uncomfortable attention that is now falling on manufacturers to improve security, should help reduce incidents of hacking and ultimately the necessity to remove products from the market.
While it is completely understandable that manufacturers should want to be first to market with their innovations, the priority must be to ensure those innovations are fit for purpose in the first place and safe for consumers to use.
There are many preparations that the electrical trade can make to mitigate the impact of a recall on their business long before it arises. To find out how you can incorporate recall resolutions click here Recall Best Practice.
By Farzad Henareh, Stericycle ExpertSOLUTIONS