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Piers Fawkes: Connecting The Home Is The Next Big Opportunity

While more devices can talk, they aren't having a decent conversation. Let's change that.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
Piers Fawkes, PSFK on August 18, 2013. @piers_fawkes

As many of you know, we have been running an exhibition in New York’s Chelsea for the last five weeks. The Future of Home Living experience brings to life our recent report and shows physical manifestations of key trends that are changing the way we live in our houses and apartments. Dotted throughout the displays are devices that have the ability to talk to other devices – including the Nest thermostat, the Doorbot doorbell, the Canary smoke detector, the Little Printer, and the Jawbone Up band.

The popularity of the Nest in particular suggests to me how quickly these connected devices will mainstream: the thermostat that learns from user activity and can be controlled remotely from your phone already retails in Home Depot and Lowes. How quickly will we see the other objects in our exhibition – many of which are Kickstarter backed – appear in the stores of suburban shopping malls?

I think the one thing that is holding all these items back is that while they can talk – they aren’t having a decent conversation. A whole bunch of items in our exhibition can be accessed by apps, API calls or hacks, but I feel there’s a layer that’s missing. There needs to be a simple to use dashboard that someone at home can use to program their home and all the objects in it.

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Someone needs to create an operating system for the home where residents can switch on scenarios. There should be a ‘out on vacation’ scenario, the ‘party’ one, the ‘looking after the kids’ one too. Sure, there’s IFTTT (If This Then That) which does a decent job of making connected tech accessible but it still takes a geek to use the tech to really get your at-home devices to talk and react to each other.

These devices need to work with each other to create natural systems that are easy for home owners to understand and and simple to switch on. The doorbell needs to tell your lighting if your date has arrived or it’s just the delivery guy. The cooker needs to tell the air-conditioner when to clean the internal air. And so on.

There are a lot of ways all these devices can work with each other – and I’m excited to see how designers and developers will work to create new possibilities around home living. I believe that there’s a huge business opportunity for the folks who get it right.

I’m also excited to help fuel the development of the connected home by running a design contest with Jawbone where we ask our readers to imagine the ways all the devices in our exhibition and report could work together. Tomorrow, we will release a brief to our community to respond with scenarios that connect the home. Why don’t you take part – there’s even a prize.

Simply register to receive a brief – and if you want to come to the face to face briefing on Friday Aug 16 at 2pm, please sign up here.

I can’t wait to see how things turn out at home.

Connect Up Contest with Jawbone

Thinking...