More and more smart applications for cell phones and smart watches are entering the market. However, a recent study shows that consumers have great difficulty using the functions on offer. Manufacturers need to make significant improvements here, because in Germany in particular, ease of use is the key factor in the purchase decision.
A smartphone that monitors its owner’s sleep. Socks that analyze one’s steps, and a T-shirt that measures heart rate. Tablets control the room temperature, voice commands the car, cell phones count calories and the watch on the wrist is networked with everything. In the race to attract new customers, smart device manufacturers are outbidding each other with ever new models and creative functions. But all the new features are pointless if the user can’t use them. This is shown by the “Digital Consumer Survey” study conducted by the service company Accenture.
According to the study, almost nine out of ten consumers in Germany (88%) have already had difficulties using their smart devices. The challenges are as varied as the devices and their functions: For example, 15% of those surveyed had problems with installation and 15% with connecting smart devices to the Internet. 13% were annoyed by high energy consumption or the lack of options for adapting the device and user interface to their needs.
Too complicated for some consumers: smartwatches like Apple’s.
However, the biggest problems are much more fundamental: almost one in three survey participants (31%) have experienced simply not having fun with their smart device or not being able to get any benefit from it. For 17 % of consumers, many smartphones or smartwatches are simply too complicated. And more than one in ten (11%) know the feeling when a freshly purchased device does not live up to the manufacturer’s promises.
“For manufacturers, this should be a wake-up call to rethink their approach,” says Jürgen Morath, managing director in Accenture’s Communications, Media and Technology practice. “In the future, it can’t be about creating more and more new products with more and more different capabilities that all exist separately from each other. The key will be to combine the different devices into a unified user experience with real added value for the consumer.”
The Digital Consumer Survey shows how important this is: one in five wants a device that is compatible with other gadgets and systems in their household. For one-third of those surveyed in Germany, the decisive reason for buying a smart device is that it should be as easy to use as possible. Having as many features as possible, on the other hand, only plays a role for 19%.
Accenture surveyed 24,000 consumers between the ages of 14 and 55 in 24 countries for the Digital Consumer Survey. In addition to Germany, these countries include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. The results are representative of the online population in each country.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology and outsourcing services provider with more than 330,000 employees serving clients in over 120 countries. As a partner for large-scale business transformations, the company brings extensive project experience across all industries and business units and knowledge gained from analyses of the world’s most successful companies to work with its clients.
Smart devices and mental health – a match?
Smart devices are supposed to make our lives easier – although, as the study listed showed, they sometimes tend to cause confusion. But can they also help us in the area of mental health?
Smart watches, for example, are supposed to help us keep an eye on our fitness level at all times. Each one comes with built-in GPS and a pedometer, and some also have integrated map functions, MP3 players via Bluetooth, or can be used as a transaction tool.
However, many models also offer more in the area of mental health: Sleep as well as the individual stress level can be monitored via app with these fitness watches. In the latter case, the so-called heart rate variability is included in the analysis. This means that the intervals between two heartbeats are analyzed. During this time, there is not perfect rest, no – of course, the heart pumps blood through the veins between two beats as a result of the body’s own regulatory mechanisms. These irregularities can also be detected in an ECG as small elevations. With the help of this data, it is possible to determine a stress level. This is often visualized as a graphic in a connected app and can thus help to identify the causes of stress and to understand in which situations one relaxes properly.
- It is obvious that the pulse itself can also be a sign of stress. However, here the rapidity of the heartbeat refers more to physical exertion than to psychological stress. The pulse of someone with good fitness does not race up as fast as that of other less fit people.
- Stress trackers include smart devices such as the Huawei Watch GT 2, the Samsung Galaxy Watch, the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music, and the Vivomove HR and Apple Watch 5.
Smart devices for your home
Smart devices can make life more pleasant, or at least more entertaining, not just when you’re out and about, but also in the comfort of your own home. Of course, this only applies to people who have a certain soft spot for smart devices.
These include smart speakers, which can be used as voice-controlled assistants in the home. This can be particularly useful if you spend a lot of time at home, are mobility impaired or simply fancy that “certain something”.
The devices are designed to process what is said within the device. To a certain extent, they wait for a signal word, which is then sent directly to the manufacturer via the Internet. There, an attempt is made to implement the command. The actual voice control is initiated by loudly spoken keywords or by pressing an action button. Some vendors have designed their software openly so that third-party providers can offer their services in the style of smartphone apps.
Do smart devices fit YOU?
Whether and which smart devices can be integrated into your everyday life without missing their point is, of course, a matter of one thing: trial and error. It’s important to keep in mind where a smart device would enrich your life. What you should avoid at all costs is that it only adds pressure.
As a busy person, it’s difficult to maintain an overview in the chaos of everyday life. Having a smartwatch on your wrist reminding you that you’re still 5,000 steps short of your daily goal can make for physical health, but it can also become just one more item on endless to-do lists. When can you finally switch off and just listen to your own body about when and how much exercise is appropriate?
Smart devices can clearly be a great support in everyday life, but like almost everything in life, they should suit you. If they enrich you, then they are the right choice for you!