September 14, 2021
This post was originally published on Aug 9th on Mindspark's Greenbook Channel, The UX Factor.
Let’s play the imagination game for one second. Ready? Okay.
It’s 6:00 AM and all of sudden your smart speakers in your room (and/or phone) slowly start playing your ‘rise and shine’ song to get you out of bed. It is slightly dark, so you voice command your Philips lightbulb to turn on – mainly because you would hate to stub your toe on the sharp corners of your bed. As you arrive downstairs, your coffee is already pre-set to brew and you quickly whip up your breakfast (or maybe you just skip brekkie altogether) and pull out your phone to start checking the news, Instagram, or the stock (or crypto) market.
You now need a shower, so you open your app and turn the water on to your desired temperature to make sure it is at the perfect setting before you get in, which is likely the same one you used yesterday. You finish your shower, and instruct your Amazon Echo to play your favorite song while you get ready to leave your home, but not before your doorbell camera alerts you that your package delivery man has just left mail on your doorstep – don’t you love when Amazon Prime comes early?! You shut your door, gather your items and get into your car in the garage and pull out of your driveway, shortly after realizing that you did not lock your front door. No worries, you just voice command your car to open an app on your phone and command that your smart home app locks your doors. Perhaps you even ask it to shut your blinds.
Midway through your day, you remember that you have to make dinner on a tight schedule due to last-second plans. Lucky for you, you open your Samsung app and pre-set your oven preheat at 375 degrees for 4:30 PM. Whew – what a relief that our homes are smarter than us, or we really would have had to do some SERIOUS stressing and extraneous work today, right? Okay, I am being a bit judgmental. But seriously, though, think about how many problems (strenuous or not) our homes now solve for us. Remarkable, to say the least.
To be fair, however, there is a good chance that the vast majority of us do not use all of these different smart home items. Come on, a shower that pre-sets a temperature and a start time?! However, there is a very good chance that we at least use one – if not a couple – of these smart home items already. As a matter of fact, at this very moment, my Roomba/robotic vacuum is currently cleaning my kitchen floor and I most certainly used my doorbell camera today to check on my mail delivery. You can call it lazy – I call it helpful!
The smart home industry is vast, growing rapidly, and encompasses a wide breadth of products, which is why it is no surprise that 53% of US homeowners had already bought smart home products, according to a 2019 study by the Security Sales & Integration. As a whole, the industry itself is expected to hit US$174 billion by the end of 2025! Pretty impressive, but at the same time, it is easy to believe when we consider the improvements in safety and convenience offered by these products. For example, although it may not be immediately apparent, smart home products that are used to alert local caregivers and perhaps EMS services during times of crises, such as when a senior falls over while at home alone, are in fact part of the smart home family.
These products offer peace of mind, automated use, and a high level of comfort for those who have parents or senior family members living alone. Another common, yet overlooked smart home product includes Fire Detectors/Carbon Monoxide detectors. These certainly are standard in most homes and are not exactly new technology, but they are in fact under the smart-home umbrella and are much more advanced in their offerings compared to a few mere years ago (some even connect to your Google Nest). Having said all that, I want you to take a quick moment and think about all the smart home (or work) technology that you experience every day of your life. Such as, do you have a key fob to get into the gym? A key code to unlock your door or garage? A teapot or coffee maker that starts on a schedule every morning? An Amazon Echo?
On a piece of paper write down all these smart home products that you may own, and if you are so inclined, pick a relative or friend and compile a list of smart home products that you know they have. On the same piece of paper, take a second to think up some ideas for smart home products, and whatever you do, do not Google the products until you are done. This is a brain exercise, not a quiz, just let your mind wander and explore where and how smart home technology has impacted and could impact your daily life. Perhaps you would want the blinds to open up for you every morning to help you wake up? (Yes, they exist.) Maybe you have a more personalized preference for smart home tech. Whatever it is, come up with a list of products and make a list of 2-3 things that you think would be a great addition to the smart-home family. How does it solve a problem? How would you use it? Hmm…
I will let you ponder on this thought for a while, until part two of this article in a few weeks, where we will delve into some of the more technical components of this remarkable industry, examine the impact of learned-algorithmic behavior, and the famously coined term “IoT” (Internet of Things). Get those lists drafted and I will certainly come prepared with mine in the meantime.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! Stay tuned!