While media coverage of the “digital home” implies that the technology of tomorrow is here today, consumers have yet to see the benefits of the new technologies, according to a new Hill & Knowlton survey conducted by sister firm Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates. More than two-thirds of survey respondents could not even define the term “digital home.” When given a definition of the “digital home,” most people (90 percent) assumed it would be very expensive, and two-thirds (66 percent) believed it would be too hard to set up. However, consumers did show a definite interest in some individual digital home offerings. For example, more than 63 percent of those surveyed wanted technology to control various devices in their home both while they are at home and when they are away. “It’s clear that many people don’t fully understand the technology that’s available right now, whatever technology advances the future holds,” says MaryLee Sachs, head of the global marketing practice and U.S. chair at Hill & Knowlton. “Companies must simplify product or service messages, demonstrate functions and speak the targeted consumer segment’s language. The bottom line: company communication impacts sales.” One third of those surveyed (34 percent) said they have a home network, almost half (49 percent) said their home entertainment system is controlled by either a PC, Mac, TV or stereo, and 74 percent want technology devices to integrate. When asked how they currently use their television and what other purposes they would like it to serve, people reported that their highest usage was watching broadcast programs and DVDs; 35 percent wanted to use the television to serve as the interface for the home entertainment system, for accessing the Internet (29 percent), for viewing photos (28 percent), and as a computer screen (28 percent). On the computer front, the majority of people use their computers to send/receive emails, access the Internet, view photos/other images and play games. They expressed interest in activities for which they do not currently use their computers, such as: watching streamed television shows (44 percent), creating/editing video or audio (41 percent), watching or recording programs directly from cable or satellite (38 percent) and controlling their home entertainment system (25 percent). “Despite today’s technology advancements, the two potential drivers of the digital home - the television and computer - aren’t being used to full potential,” says Joe Paluska, global technology leader at Hill & Knowlton. “IPTV is poised to take the lead in this category as it blends the entertainment and information of television with Internet technology.”