In the real world (market), smart home has very little happening. Henrik Holen, managing director of Viva Labs, shares some insights on how to make a leap.
Q. What is hurdling smart home adoption?
The more connected, the smarter a home is. The more sensors, cameras and actuators you install in a home, the easier it is for the software behind them to do incredible things, things you only thought happened in the movies. Unfortunately, until you get to a certain point, your smart home can feel a bit dumb. This is the biggest hurdle for smart home adoption.
The challenge is that while a smart home now costs a fraction of what it cost just a few years ago, a fully connected apartment will still set you back a few grand. Not a lot, but since the value of a smart home can be unclear before you’ve lived in one, it’s more than most are willing to risk.
For many the smart home is a nebulous concept, hard to pin down and thought of as a box of toys for enthusiastic nerds or a money sink for wealthy home owner. In fact, it can be hard to define an easy-to-grasp value proposition for a «smart home», which is why so few choose to invest in one when they build or refurbish a home.
Of course, this changes when we deconstruct the smart home, reducing it to its parts. Smart thermostats like the Nest or Ecobee, alarm systems like Vivint, home monitoring like the Withings Home, and remote control like Wemo are useful and easy to understand, and individual offerings have been successful in the mass market. What we’re lacking is a way to build our smart homes piecemeal without having to tie it together with code snippets and IFTTT. We need Iron Man’s Jarvis to start out as a door lock.
Q. What are possible solutions to the hurdles?
At Viva, we’ve identified three traits that successful, future proof solutions should have. By embodying these traits, an offering will be well-placed to meet consumer needs, both now and in the future.
1. Sell smart products, not smart homes
To avoid the problem of high up-front investments, the broad smart home should be divided into smart products, limited in scope and with a clear user benefit. These should emulate an appliance in simplicity, and require an easy, one-time setup and simple usability from then on.
Using a smart door lock as example, we see that it offers the clear benefits of better access control, keyless entry, and increased security by automatically locking itself. Most can be self-installed by the home owner, and works without complicated integrations or programming.
2. Be a physical footprint for a digital service
The product being sold should have a physical presence and should, in its disconnected state, work identically to any product it replaces. However, the true value should comes from its connection to a digital service.
A smart door lock, of course, works like a regular door lock when disconnected, at most requiring switching from a key to a pin code. The true usefulness of a smart lock comes into play when the digital service is connected and it can automatically open when you approach the door, let you remotely open the door for the delivery man, and give your AirBnB guest a virtual key instead of an actual one.
3. Provide value alone, be better together
The products we provide need to offer value by themselves, usefulness at a low cost, but they also need to be designed to work better together, without requiring the user to invest time and effort into it.
Once the smart door lock gets connected to your home security system, it can let you grant access to the kitchen for the food home delivery but notify you if they enter your bedroom, work as a signal to turn your thermostat off when you lock it, and let the camera take a video snippet whenever the door is unlocked.
It is clear that connecting everything to one central service is powerful, but this process will never get started if we have to connect everything first. By reducing the smart home to easily understandable products, we can take the first steps towards a fully smart home.