13 April 2017
Experts predict that by 2020 there will be 50 billion smart, connected devices around the world. As this fast paced market evolves it is important for brands, consumer and manufacturers to collaborate and debate on how we best manage the connected home.
In 2016 we began our ‘Connected Home‘ series, where we explored some of the key opportunities and challenges we expected to encounter in the forthcoming years, as big consumer brands begin to integrate the Internet of Things into their product strategies. Back for 2017, we’ll be delving deeper into the subject of the connected home exploring why achieving a feeling of homeliness is so important to its success.
One of the biggest problems faced by the smart home is managing to connect all of the devices seamlessly. Companies each looking to capture this market first, are developing different standards and communication channels that only work with select devices. This limited choice and control is frustrating for consumers that would prefer to mix and match with ease.
Smart devices that promise us the ability to save time with automation are actually doing the exact opposite. Consumers are currently juggling different apps, interfaces and input methods trying to get them to work together, which as a result can be extremely tedious and confusing. This is a big problem when our homes are meant to be a place to relax.
“To achieve the potential of a connected smart world, governments, policy-makers, regulatory bodies and businesses need to coordinate plans and consider collaboration at unprecedented levels. Companies will have to make choices about the core nature of their business, what partnerships to pursue and the skills their workforce will require. They will need to understand that the most valuable thing they will produce is data, and that data will enable them to become service providers if they so choose.” Peter Veash, Chief Executive, The BIO Agency.
The success of the connected home relies on brands partnering and agreeing on an industry standard for device communication. Just as Bluetooth and WiFi have become the international standards for data transfer and connectivity, there is now an opportunity for services like IFTTT (If This Then That) to become the consumer standard for the connected home.
IFTTT is a free web based service that allows consumers to create chains of simple communication between web services and hardware such as, Philips Hue, Nest Thermostat, Facebook, Instagram etc. With over 360 partners who allow their products and services to communicate with each other, IFTTT is creating a user friendly platform for the connected home. To control our devices IFTTT has created what they call ‘Applets’. These instruction cards lets users create or activate pre-selected commands for our smart devices.
“IFTTT’s network of partners is so extensive that one connection allows us to get a lot of connections to third-party devices… IFTTT gave us a way to get there very quickly and very inexpensively.” Scott Harkins VP, Honeywell Connected Home.
When an industry communication standard is established, it is only then when we will have the ability to tailor our smart home experiences to the way we live. Becoming autonomous systems, devices would be able to communicate and collect data with limited input from the user. This would result in our homes returning to a homely environment to relax and connect with family, rather than a place to manage devices.
As the portfolio of connected devices continues to grow, brands must consider collaborating with one another to establish an agreed standard for the smart home. If not there is the risk of consumers feeling unsupported, frustrated and unwilling to invest in the connected home.
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Stay tuned for the next instalment of ‘The Connected Home’ series where we explore the importance of the aesthetics of digital devices.
Overall a great day which involved getting everyone's thoughts, ideas and reservations down on paper. I am looking forward to seeing how this information will be overlaid with the vital trend insights we need to drive new product development and long-term business growth.