I don’t think people will buy smart home products just because they are the ‘next big tech thing’.
I don’t think people will use augmented reality (AR) just because it’s ‘really cool and new’.
I believe people will buy smart home products because these devices positively benefit their lives, in ways that align with their core values.
I believe people will use augmented reality to buy, well, almost all products they purchase in the future, because it allows that product to be visually previewed in context and with enhanced information, ahead of purchase and without any upfront cost.
There’s a lot of pain to be eliminated!
In the case of smart home.
Let’s start with smart lighting — waking up to the same ear screeching alarm day after day, could instead feel like a gradual awareness that the room is becoming bright; great for those long winter nights. The uncertainty of saving energy while you’re away from home can become as simple as walking out the door, with your phone’s geolocation doing the rest, telling the lights to turn off once you’re a little way from home. It can even help your home feel more secure while you’re away, by having one or two lights turn on for a while, giving the impression you’re home. No more unwelcoming feeling of coming home to a dark house, or the kids waking up because their circadian rhythms are completely out of whack with millions of years of evolution, because… “Hey, my dad’s bought some new LED light bulbs and he didn’t buy ‘smart’, so it’s all got worse! I still have to get out of bed to switch them off (or on), and they emit such a cool white light, they keep me awake at night rather than help me fall asleep. Epic fail dad!”
Better still, AR can help with the entire ‘discovery to daily use’ journey. Making research and decision-making fun and interactive. From simply knowing that smart devices can enhance all of these scenarios and more, to the elusive ‘it just works’. By seeing, interacting with, and understanding the benefits of smart products ahead of purchase and in your home — ideally with some personalised support — your leap into the world of smart tech becomes less scary, more reassuring, and certainly a lot more exciting! Ideally the actual setup and configuration of all this smart device magic is seamless too, with the same ‘in context of your home’ support. This is where AR, and soon MR (Mixed Reality), fully begin to shine: when the hands-on feel becomes so real, it might actually be… enhanced reality?!
But while technology through the phone or tablet in our hand still consumes our attention, smart home and AR have to do better. Otherwise we’ll all end up saying: “Hang on, I need to look at my smartphone AGAIN, to reconfigure that new piece of technology that’s supposed to help me… somehow… but I can’t get the settings quite right, and come to think of it, I’m not sure I installed it correctly, or what I’m setting it up for? Err, can you help me with this son?”
Technology by definition of Wired Magazine’s Kevin Kelly, although lifted from Alan Kay, a brilliant polymath who worked at Atari, Xerox, Apple, and Disney is: “anything that was invented after you were born.” Or with further refinement became: “Technology is everything that doesn’t work yet.”
So what doesn’t work yet in this era of proliferating smart technology?
Well for one, shopping on Amazon is easy. Browsing to understand exactly which ecosystem, brand or product type best fits your needs and wishes, is agonising! So too is going to the shops to have someone talk you through all the options, only to find that you’re completely on your own when you get home and no longer in the context of that neatly, well-presented shop display.
These are problems that both smart home and augmented reality will soon cast into the history books. As a kid I was secretly fascinated by a book titled ‘The Way Things Work’ depicting technology explained by a woolly mammoth. These books now hold descriptions for cars, refrigerators, microwaves… and increasingly cellphones, GPS and even the medium of record-keeping itself: the web, as perfectly silent, unminded tools, that no longer register as ‘technology’.
How do we get there with the Connected Home? And what’s the driving force behind this Smart Tech movement?
Written by Founder & CEO, Tim Davis
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