The ubiquitous smartphone aside, last year, according to Forrester Research, just 6 percent of American households had a smart device—electronics like speakers or lights that can connect wirelessly to other objects and perform some aspect of daily home life. That’s fewer than one might expect from listening to industry analysts, many of whom see a perpetually bright future for the Internet of Things. The consulting firm Bain & Company forecasts that annual revenues for IoT vendors could top $470 billion by 2020. What accounts for this discrepancy between low participation and huge potential? Why aren’t people racing out right now to buy refrigerators that reorder their own groceries or front-door locks that fasten themselves when the last light goes out?
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