Tech viewpoint on the connected home
A view from Lea Simpson

Tech viewpoint on the connected home

How would I distil the connected home landscape? A heady mix of three forces, two players and one counterintuitive opportunity for our industry.

First, products have become devices. And I’m not just talking about Nest – the darling of the connected home. Connected televisions, white goods, bathroom scales – these things are all performing as devices, with interfaces that have all the sensibilities of web design.

Second, curation. We’ll all curate the ultimate service stack for our unique wants (think of all the services you would use daily, then combine them into a mega-service – that’s a stack). HomeKit, which Apple launched at its Worldwide Developers Conference, stacks a range of services to make life work more effortlessly.

Finally, the killer app isn’t an app any more – it’s the interoperability of apps across devices and with each other for services that work anywhere and everywhere. The more of these services we stack on top of each other, the more their ability to interoperate will matter.

When combined, products as devices, stacking services and interoperability are set to change life as we know it. Want your microwave to tell Netflix when your dinner is heated up so it can cue the rest of the film you started watching? Done. Want to tell your microwave to start on your way home using your car’s dashboard? Done. How about programming your microwave to automatically start ten minutes into your drive home and cue Game Of Thrones… on Wednesday nights only, when you’ve been to the gym? Done.

That’s the magic: a life freed from mundane tasks. All curated, automated and chugging away at tasks for you. Welcome to our generation’s industrial revolution.

That's the magic: a life freed from mundane tasks. Welcome to our generation's industrial revolution

Apple and Google are the key players. This year’s WWDC introduced us to the most open Apple we’ve ever seen. APIs, partnerships with brands and a curation of digital products made by others are positioning Apple as the front door of the connected home.

Google, meanwhile, is focused on playing with inventions and, of course, data. The Nest acquisition means its behavioural insights have sprawled into our homes. Google tries and fails and tries again, maxing on its data play along the way. If Apple is your front door, then Google is everything inside.

What does this mean for agencies and brands? We now work in the service industry. We have to work hard to overcome our natural inclination to over-message, over-notify and over-intellectualise the role of these services in our lives.

Like other parts of the service industry, the greatest service goes unnoticed. That’s the counterintuitive opportunity, for clients and agencies alike, in the connected home – the biggest difference we can make is to disappear. Boring is better.

Lea Simpson is the strategy director at TH_NK