The Evolution of Mobile Tech into IoT in the Home
When technology first came into the home, it was a luxurious thing for a family to own. First, it was telephones. Later, radios became a popular form of entertainment. Finally, televisions, desktop computers, and video game consoles. As time went on, it became more common for families to have telephones, radios, televisions, desktop computers, and video game consoles; many families eventually would have more than one of each of these in the house. In fact, over half of households in the United States now live without landline telephones and rely solely on their cell phones for communication.
With the onset of mobile phones, came the freedom to bring life with you on the go. Mobile apps helped change the definition of a customer into a user and many companies took advantage of learning how to take their customers on the go. Rather than stay at home, they can use their mobile phone and iOS or Android apps to access services on the go. Whether they want to track their running routes, find a babysitter on the go, plan a day with the family at a theme park, or more, they no longer needed to be tethered to a desktop computer to do it. The phrase “there’s an app for that” spurred inspirations in companies across industries to find new ways to interact with their customers. How could they remain useful to them between destinations? How could they become part of their customer’s journey from one place to another?
Over time, things evolved with the telephone and customers wanted to use their technology outside of the home while on the go with mobile phones; we began to notice a shift in technology with other trends. The Internet of Things (IoT) came onto the scene and once more, started to have an effect on mobile. IoT devices connect to the internet and transmit information; sometimes this is done via Wifi and other times via Bluetooth Low Energy(BLE). Leveraging mobile apps, IoT devices like wearables became popular tools to help people keep track of things, like heart rate and fitness activity, while on the go. Today, devices like the Apple Watch and Fitbit remain popular as users utilize them as another mobile interface to accompany them on the go.
Now in the Home
Years later, IoT devices have grown beyond tools for those in fitness and wellness communities. Rather than being connected while users are on-the-go, many companies are finding ways to connect their users from the comfort of their own homes. Instead of using mobile as a tool for when their customers are between destinations, IoT is now utilized to enhance the experience of an actual location or environment. Beyond carrying a smartphone, now customers can live in a smart home. Devices that are connected to their mobile phones allow them a type of freedom and accessibility to entertainment, security, and comfort that has not been available before.
One of the biggest ways that the Internet of Things is making an impact is with Voice technology. Many consumers are familiar with the Amazon Echo which personifies a technological character called Alexa and allows users to interact with a device that is directly connected to their Amazon account. Using their voices, people can ask their Echo device questions like, “Alexa, what is the weather like today?” or “Alexa, what was on my grocery list last week?”
The voice question or command connects with Echo’s software to query Amazon’s API and answer the user. Each ability the Echo performs is called a skill and Alexa, the personality behind the Amazon Echo, has a wide variety of skills, from playing Jeopardy to running a user through a meditation. While voice technology is making speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home more common in homes, they aren’t the only tech becoming more likely to be seen around the house. Here are examples of other ways consumers are utilizing technology to control their homes:
Technology is even helping homeowners heat their homes more efficiently with tools like the Nest thermostat. Using Nest, homeowners allow the tech to learn how temperatures vary at different parts of the house throughout the day so that the thermostat can set optimal temperatures for a family based on their preferences. The Nest app allows a homeowner to see if things change throughout the day and make any adjustments as needed. The device also has a camera and can act as a security camera, an indoor and outdoor monitoring device, and a carbon monoxide detector.
Alarm systems have been protecting homes with their technology for the last couple decades but with IoT, companies like SimpliSafe are stepping up what it means to have a home alarm system. Now, your alarm is tied to an app on your phone and you can check in to see when your kids disarmed the alarm after coming home from school, if there were any break-ins while you were on vacation, or even monitor the temperature to save costs on heating and prevent frozen pipes.
With Flywheel’s FLY Anywhere bike, users don’t need to go to the gym to have the best workout of their lives. Instead, they can bring the challenge of a Flywheel class right into their living room with the FLY Anywhere bike, controlling the entire thing via the iOS app on their phone or on their Apple TV and entertainment system.
Samsung’s Family Hub fridge is a smart fridge that connects your family’s fridge to all your other apps (such as Pandora–so you can hear your favorite tunes while you hunt for a midnight snack). It also can show you what is inside your fridge at any given time and give you updates on your family’s shopping list.
Philips Hue and Savant
The Internet of Things is even influencing the light in which we experience our day-to-day lives. Great tools like The Hue app from Philips and Savant allow users to control the settings of the lights in their household, controlling the mood and tone for different times and occasions from their phones.
What does this mean for homes of the future?
Years ago, it was hard to believe that nearly every household would have a cordless phone and now there are many families that don’t own landlines at all. Now that mobile phones and apps are such a big part of our lives, it’s exciting to think how the devices are helping to reconnect us with our environments and our homes. Whether it’s with entertainment, remaining secure, setting the mood, preparing a grocery list, or otherwise, technology is becoming more and more integrated with our surroundings. We believe that 2018 will be the year of tech in the home and cannot wait to see what other innovations await us in the New Year!