Messaging app Line showed a new way to control smart home devices at IFA 2018. As the industry sees voice as the trending method to control devices, the messaging app wants to keep the old-fashion texting.
The new platform, called Line Things, is an IoT control platform based on texting. One application is that a chatbot may say to users in a chat window: “The A/C in your bedroom is on, do you want to turn it off?” Users can then reply a “yes” or “no” to control the device remotely.
Another instance Line demonstrated publicly is to pull meal cooking instructions from a website and automatically send them to a smart microwave oven.
The Line app has been used in people’s daily lives. From one single app, people can text with friends, play mobile games, read news and make payment in a store. The new Things platform may have the same user-friendly and familiar interface.
The Line app can also save users the effort to install and set up mobile apps for different smart devices, while minimizing the number of notifications sent from all different smart devices.
While new technologies like smart home may be complicated and confusing for some, the Line platform could make things easier and attract others to try out smart home technologies.
Line is more popular in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan. According to a voice research study in 2017 by KDDI, 70% of Japanese said they would feel embarrassed to voice search commands in front of others, and 40% said they would only do so when nobody is in the house. While voice control appears to be more popular in the Western culture, using messaging app to control connected devices may be favored by Japanese users.
Line Things is still in the very early stage of development. The company hasn’t announced any compatible hardware devices, but said the platform will be launched it in the first half of 2019 in several markets including Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia.
Other companies have experimented this way of communication with smart home devices. Netatmo, for example, has developed a Facebook Messenger bot, allowing users to text smart home devices at work or on vacations.