As consumer lifestyles become more and more automated, the appeal of digital assistants and the ability to control the home via voice command is growing in popularity. New research from Mintel reveals that nearly one third (31 percent) of Americans own or would like to own a digital assistant.

“The next 10 years will be marked by a transition away from screen-based interfaces and toward voice-based interfaces provided by digital assistants, such as Amazon Echo’s Alexa, Google Home’s Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana, Samsung’s Bixby, and Apple’s Siri. Mintel predicts that as consumers become more accustomed to interacting with digital assistants on smartphones and computers, interest in controlling their homes via voice command is likely to grow, becoming a central point in a long-term shift that will permanently alter how we interact with technology,” said Billy Hulkower, Senior Technology and Media Analyst at Mintel.

The tech product Americans are most interested in owning or already own is a smart thermostat (37%)

When it comes to the latest smart home technology, the tech product Americans are most interested in owning or already own is a smart thermostat (37 percent). A variety of new tech products are also hitting the mainstream across the country. In addition to smart thermostats, other new tech products Americans own or would like to own include convertible laptops/tablets (36 percent), virtual reality (VR) headsets (30 percent), 3D printers (28 percent) and smart earbuds (23 percent).

“As products like smart thermostats and smart earbuds gain in adoption, the expectation is that consumers will want their other personal and home smart devices to operate on the same software systems. Manufacturers and service providers currently focusing their research and development budgets on products that utilize this new interface stand to gain the most,” continued Hulkower.

Mintel research reveals the smart home products Americans most commonly own or are interested in owning center around home security, such as outdoor security cameras (35 percent) and door/window sensors (33 percent). While just under one quarter (24 percent) of US adults show interest in having indoor security cameras in their homes, this number rises to well over half (58 percent) of parents that would like to check on their children and nearly two in five (39 percent) Americans overall who are worried about leaving their pet at home.

50% of Americans aged 75+ believe that saving energy is a moral obligation

Going green is also an important driver for smart home purchases, and counter to stereotypes about youthful passion for environmental concerns, this is especially true among older Americans. One third (33 percent) of consumers believe it’s almost always worth the extra cost to buy the most energy-efficient products, with this number rising to more than half (52 percent) of those aged 75 or older. Older generations seem especially engaged in this matter as Americans aged 75+ are also significantly more likely to believe that saving energy is a moral obligation (50 percent) and are more likely to be interested in learning about new products that use less energy (44 percent), compared to 37 percent of consumers overall, respectively.

“Our research shows that older generations in particular see value in energy efficient products, indicating that energy savings may be an ideal way to bring demographics less impressed by new technology into purchasing smart home systems,” continued Hulkower. “We also see that parents and pet owners represent clear targets for indoor cameras to monitor the home, highlighting a bright spot for the segment.”

The way Americans are consuming media and using the internet are also evolving. While email is still the most dominant form of online communication (98 percent in 2017 vs 97 percent in 2015), other forms of communication, including sharing photos and videos (72 percent), instant messaging (68 percent), and audio and video chatting (54 percent), are in the midst of rising adoption. What’s more, the popularity of online video and music streaming is increasing among Americans: today, nearly four in five (79 percent) say they have streamed video, compared to just 70 percent in 2015, and two thirds (65 percent) report streaming music in 2017, compared to 59 percent in 2015.

18% of US adults say they have used an online dating service

Not surprisingly, the internet can also be for lovers, especially among younger generations. Nearly one in five (18 percent) US adults say they have used an online dating service, with nearly double the amount (32 percent) of Millennials (aged 23-40) saying they’ve dated online.

“The next phase in communications will lie with enabling users to create their own multimedia products, including video and augmented reality tags. Emoticons, voice interfaces, pinning and memes all provide early glimpses into what the future looks like – personal takes on news and popular culture are now part of communication itself, rather than just the subject of it. We’re transitioning into a stylized, post-literate society in which digital communication is itself a form of art,” concluded Hulkower.

Press copies of Mintel’s Smart Homes US 2017 and Digital Trends: Spring US 2017 reports and interviews with Billy Hulkower, Senior Technology and Media Analyst, are available on request from the press office.

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