I assume the Isaac Asimov was right: “Luxury is something you could easily get used to”. Why? Because when I enter my home in the evening and switch on the light, I do not really care. I assume it’s the same for most of you. But of course I know (since I’m an engineer with an education in power generation and distribution) that it’s not a law of nature to have accessible electricity everywhere at home. So is my house already smart? And what about tab water (even warm!)? This should also be a noticeable comfort to me. Let me put it this way: Everything that makes my life easier and offers more leisure looks smart to me.
What people tend to call ‘smart home’
Today there is a tendency to use ‘smart’ and ‘connected’ as synonyms. A connected home is smart because it can be controlled from everywhere in the world. If it’s cold outside you can – for example – easily switch on the heating on your way home. It’s also “smart” if you can switch on the light and open and close the blinds to avoid robbery. And my favorite: My fridge tells me what I have to eat in the evening, because this food is overdue! All these features focus on selling more hardware and mobile contracts by adding some connected offering. Strangely there was no big market success for this so far. This may be due to the fact, that most people like me don’t feel too uncomfortable while looking inside the fridge (my wife even claims that I look for hours…). And up to now I also never cared if the light in my basement is switched off while being on a holiday beach.
What we need is REAL customer comfort – not just some smart gimmicks
I do not like vacuum cleaning and lawn mowing, so if there would be an affordable automatic solution for this I would buy it. Affordable to me would be a ‘smart’ system with the similar price like the manual one. So I would spend 300€ but won’t spend 600€ (200€ for the conventional one + 400€ for the automatic one). An automatic solution for vacuum cleaning and lawn mowing may not be connected (and I could hardly imagine any benefit on connecting it). Even if I’m interested in a clean floor I still have no need to know online how many gram of dirt were collected. (If you could think of a benefit in connecting I would like to hear.) But the question is: Is this solution nevertheless smart? Sure it is!
A comfort I also miss at home but already have in my car today: Keyless operation. There are several smaller companies working on remote controlled locks but right now this is still uncommon at least in Germany. Or a bit more futuristic: what about a solution where you put dirty, wrinkled clothes in and get cabinet ready (sorted and ironed) clothes out? And that’s IoT, because there would be RFID tags attached to cloth and big data processing would tell the system how to tread which piece. Is it too farfetched? Let’s have a look at window cleaning. This is not my favorite job too. There are some devices for this, but right now they are bulky and not for home use. If moving from one window to the next one could be managed, I could even imagine rent this as a service.
We still have too much talk on the “how to” instead of “what the customer wants”
So let’s face the truth: Coming home, simply pass the door (automatically unlocked and opened), being happy about the automatically cleaned floor, ironed clothes and spick and span windows, enjoy the right heating and find the lights on, where you need it will be science fiction for a further number of years. We have the base technology to do all this, but up to now we still have too much talk on the “how to” instead of “what the customer wants”. One of the best examples is the wireless switch without a battery. I’m really impressed on the low amount of energy pre-packed and the generation of this energy by a Piezo Effect. This is brilliant! But why should I need this at home when all switches are still cabled? What we need is a complete rethinking on how we want to live. What is really important for us and what will only be a nice gimmick? What I would love to see are really comfortable homes that you don’t want to leave again so quickly. There are so many things that could make my home better and I hope to get this offered soon for an acceptable price.
What would make your home even more comfortable? I’m looking forward to your comments.