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Today's Innovation Is Happening in the Home

  |  February 23, 2014   |  Comments   |  

Google’s purchase of Nest threw a few people into a spin and it made me realize there’s an opportunity for brands to redefine the way they're experienced in the heart of consumers' lives – in the home.

As we develop the third edition of our annual trend report and with the future of everything just around the corner, I think the hype machine that is the Internet is distracting many from a real and immediately changing landscape – the home.

Stating the Obvious, Home Is Important

We spend so much of our non-working lives at home. We sleep, eat, socialize, relax, learn, and like me right now, even work at home. A home is representational of who we are - we improve it, decorate, and tailor it to best suit our needs and help us enjoy our downtime as much as possible. More and more of our downtime is spent improving it, gardening, and renovating.

It’s the place where some of our most intimate brand experiences take place, directly with products and services.

People Are Smartening Their Homes, Quickly

Technology is pervading the home at alarming rates, but not in the place many people instantly think of – media. There are seven areas that are smartening up inside the home: entertainment, gardening, cooking, personal care, cleaning, utilities, and security. Google’s purchase of Nest Labs brings security and utility in focus with their two products helping people manage their heating/cooling (a major controllable expense and major concern for people in the U.K.) and security (a very high-demand industry in the U.S.). These two areas of the home aren’t new to being smart and, more importantly, large "traditional" organizations have had a direct relationship into the home for many years.

U.K. Gas are pushing their Hive Active Heating platform, which helps you keep your costs down, but keep the temperature up.

Philips let’s you control your lights in all rooms from your phone with Hue - change your room’s mood, pretend you’re home when you’re away, help you concentrate, or wake you up with perfectly designed natural lighting.

Monitor your baby from your phone, anywhere.


Buy an iGrill to cook your steak from your phone, check its temperature to make sure it’s just right.

steakOne of my favorites let’s you monitor the soil in your garden. It recommends what to do to your soil to ensure the ideal pH, moisture, lighting conditions, and more, specifically for the plants in your garden.

gardeningEntertainment Is Just One of Seven Parts of the Smart Home

While I’m still excited about the transformation happening in home entertainment/media, it’s a complex ecosystem of brands all fighting for control. Right now you could have a Sony Smart TV with an Xbox and an Apple TV, while using a Samsung Galaxy SIII, and want to watch a HBO series through Netflix. Each one of those players is fighting it out to hold onto your value, and it’s a fun battle to watch from the sidelines. As that’s all happening, consumers aren’t even connecting their Smart TVs to the Internet, or using many of the wonderful features that already exist on these platforms.

What’s more exciting is the less sexy, simpler stuff. For brands it’s also more powerful. For example, if you’re a food brand that can provide a tool or service that helps people cook, that’s nice. How about a furniture brand whose products are smart and remind you to change your posture because you’ve slipped into a slumped position after four episodes of House of Cards (me last night!)? Or a utility company that helps you manage your bills by turning off your heater when it’s not really needed. Maybe a fashion retailer that monitors what clothes you wear most frequently (smart coat hangers) and recommends unique combinations you haven’t thought of to improve rotation.

Enhance the Home

It’s important for brands to continue to deliver great content, advertising, and digital experiences to connect with potential customers and retain relationships, but consider the possibilities of creating experiences that also enhance the experience customers are having with your product in the home. If you don’t, someone else will. Heck they probably already are.

What smart home concepts do you wish existed?

I’d love these:

  • While I’m at work I’d love to play with my puppy (Watson) with a remote control toy, talk to him, give treats, and play.
  • Waiting at home for workmen can be a pain. They often say, "We’ll be at your place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.," so instead of waiting at home, I’d love to be able to let them in remotely and monitor what they’re doing from my phone.
  • It’d be awesome if my letterbox scanned letters as they arrived and notified my phone, and if I’m on holidays it’d be great to see if there was anything important or if it was getting too full, so I could ask a friend to collect them.

Love to hear your ideas…

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Simon Small

As Executive Planning Director at Visual Jazz Isobar Australia, Simon Small has established one of the country's largest digital strategy teams, comprised of 30 planners, data analysts, researchers, and social media specialists. Social media is focal point for him, having initiated best-practice processes and a team of community managers who oversee social influencers, promotional campaigns, bought advertising, customer service, and crisis management. A digital advocate for many years, Simon established the industry body, Love Digital, which was later merged into Marketing magazine, and co-founded Melbourne's Social Media Club. He continues to support AdSchool as Head Lecturer in digital strategy and recently rewrote the national curriculum for the course.

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