Smart Home in China
More and more Chinese consumers are integrating smart home devices into their homes. In the beginning, the early adopters were those young people who would like to try something fancy and new. After they have gathered good experience, they will potentially take a second purchase, but this time for their parents.
I did some desk research of existing smart products/features on the market and will now try to capture a Chinese home with smart devices. My focus will be the products/ features which might be new for the western world.
9 a.m., Sunday morning
Lili wakes up while her husband and her son are still sleeping. She goes into the kitchen, where there’s a smart refrigerator with a big touch screen. She searches some nice breakfast recipes on the screen and lets the system play some soft music for her while she starts to prepare the food.
Breakfast will be done in only 5 minutes so it’s time to wake up the family. The refrigerator is also connected to the smart curtain system in the bedrooms, so she now clicks one button to open the curtains remotely.
Her son comes into the kitchen and clicks on the touch screen on the refrigerator to play his favorite cartoons. Lili likes the moment when his son stays with her in the kitchen. In the past, the kitchen has been a place, where women cooked alone in a narrow space.
Her husband Liang wakes up as well. He checks a message on the phone that the PM 2.5 number today will increase and the smart air purifier has already started working automatically.
Lili sends a WeChat message to her parents to remind them of measuring their blood pressure. The old couple uses a smart blood pressure device daily, which is connected to their own smartphones and Lili’s phone. The data will be sent automatically to Lili’s WeChat and if necessary she receives a warning message when the value is too high or too low.
While Lili and Liang are preparing the lunch in the kitchen and their son is watching cartoons, the doorbell rings – Liang’s parents are joining them for lunch. The refrigerator is also connected to the smart lock system, so they use voice control to open the door for the guests.
5 minutes later, Liang’s mother’s phone receives a warning message: The connected gas detector in the kitchen is sending a warning that the value in the kitchen is unreasonable. They open an App which is connected to the monitoring camera at home and find out that the old couple has forgotten to turn off the cooktop before they left the house. Luckily they also installed a connected switch system, so they hurriedly turn off the switch for the cooktop and turn on the ventilation for 10 minutes.
Everyone is relieved a little bit now and they are lucky that they can now monitor almost everything at home remotely.
At first Liang and Lili’s parents were actually a little bit against installing so many smart devices at home because they think it is useless and just a waste of money. That's what they thought about the dishwasher back then. But after they have really tried it, they immedicably fall in love with the new devices.
At 14 p.m., Liang’s parents are about to heading home.
Liang’s father starts the air conditioner remotely with his phone so that the living room is already cooled down when they arrive at home. Almost all the smart devices they have are made in China – partly because of the more reasonable price compared to imported brands, partly because the App interface the products have are structured very cleanly and even for elder people easy to read and understand, partly because everything can also be very well operated by voice through a smart voice box, which saves a lot of trouble of reading and clicking. Even if they get confused by certain features sometimes, the hotline service is always available to help them out.
Lili and Liang are also happy that their parents are having so many connected devices at home. Not only because of the convenience, but also because of danger prevention. They were always worried that their parents might have forgotten to turn off the gas or to close the door, etc. Now thanks to the detectors (for the door, air, water, personal health, etc.) and connected cameras, they can check the situation at home at any time and also receive warnings on time if something goes wrong, which is a huge relief for everyone. Unlike in Germany, where every house has insurance for different damages, Chinese people need to count on themselves.
Author: Yue Liu, Spiegel Institut Mannheim