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Smart home is with us

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fridges, TVs and in some cases, full automation, they are becoming more and more realistic, writes RIAAN GRAHAM, Sales Director for Ruckus, sub-Saharan Africa.

In today’s crazy technology age, we are seeing many developments being incorporated into the home from smart fridges, lighting, CCTV cameras, smart TVs and mirrors. In some parts of the world, we are even seeing automation being fully integrated into the home.

Residents are connecting more devices in their home from laptops to smartphones, gaming systems, and other smart home devices. They want a connected home where wireless services link every aspect of their work and play together, and property owners are looking at ways to ensure this is all provided to the home owner.

While full home automation has not been high on the average house hunter’s priority list, things are about to change – just look at the stats.

In 2016, 80 million smart home devices were delivered world-wide – a 64% increase from 2015, according to IHS Markit. What’s more, the global smart home market was valued at around USD $24.10 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach approximately USD $53.45 billion in 2022, growing at a CAGR of slightly above 14.5% between 2017 and 2022. The Middle East and Africa is also expected to be one of the fastest growing regional markets for smart homes in the coming years, where the major growth drivers include awareness among consumers for energy consumption, on-demand services and rising disposable income. This is changing expectations all round.

Property Developers Have their Work Cut Out for Them 

As a property developer or investor, you invest a lot of resources to provide a great living experience in your multi-dwelling units (MDUs). But whether it’s student housing, luxury apartment complexes, assisted living or other properties, your residents expect more today. They no longer see you as just the landlord, they also want you to be their network service provider. That means supporting a large number of smart devices, demanding video and gaming services, and other high-bandwidth wireless applications. This means making the network experience just as reliable as residents’ water, heat and electricity.

That’s a lot of technical challenges to overcome. But your residents don’t want to hear about how hard it is to provide great Wi-Fi in places with thousands of devices, large indoor/outdoor coverage areas and multi-story buildings. All they know is that the property down the street offers free Wi-Fi. Does yours?

Network access rolled into the rent sounds great to residents. This is becoming a major driving decision for people to determine if they would like to move or stay in their current residence. However, wireless dreams can quickly turn to nightmares – for both residents and the business – if the Wi-Fi isn’t simple, reliable and secure. A resident’s love for Wi-Fi will quickly turn to hate if connecting their devices is a chore, or if they have to constantly provide credentials to log back onto the network. If residents are relying on the property owner for Wi-Fi, it needs to be protecting their sensitive traffic.

As a (property owner) Wi-Fi provider, one should look at the following:

  • To deliver high-performance across hundreds of units and thousands of users – even in environments with mixed indoor/outdoor spaces and varying construction material
  • To deploy access points and wireless solutions that support more simultaneous devices and higher-bandwidth applications, even in challenging residential environments. Patented BeamFlex+ antenna technology adapts for interference and other wireless challenges automatically to provide consistent connections to every device and user
  • To look for simple, secure on-boarding management so that Wi-Fi doesn’t have to be more complicated than any other utility on your property. Find a solution where residents can connect any device, anywhere on the property in seconds, through a branded self-service portal. They can log on once and never have to do anything again. And they can do it all through a platform that protects every connection with the strongest wireless encryption

In the multi-dwelling housing market, amenities are king! This message is consistent across the board within condos, student housing and assisted living management organisations where everyone understands that potential tenants want one thing: amenities. In today’s world, the number one tenant amenity is Wi-Fi. Whether it is a young professional who works from home, a student accessing course content, or senior citizens needing to communicate with health care providers, they all have one thing in common: the need to stay connected.

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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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