Booths and Attendees at the International Home and Housewares Show, March 2018

When it comes to connected products, is the priority to save time, money, energy, or all of the above? Our fast-paced world deals brands with this question and we answer with innovative new technologies, which consumers are purchasing by the millions. In fact, some researchers are pinning the smart-home market at $40 billion by 2020, but that growth can only be accessed by focusing on the consumer’s needs rather than focusing solely on innovation. This shift in focus was the theme of last month’s International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago.

Shifting focus from technology to the consumer

“OK, Google: How do I get started?” or “Alexa, what do I do now?” – both of these questions are driving the experience of the newly connected consumer. As a consumer’s experience with connected products increases, engineers have opportunities to introduce multiple device solutions that provide crossovers between mobile, web, and in-home. But the mere introduction of these technologies doesn’t mean that consumers will automatically buy in. In fact, the act of saturating the market with products has only made consumers more skeptical and slower to buy.

During his IHHS keynote, Kevin Young from Continuum remarked that, “we are in an age now where the technology will always be there, it will now just become more naturally connected into our everyday lives.”

This mindset is critical to the direction engineers must take when innovating new products. Large-scale consumer adoption is key to the success of your products – so why not listen to the consumer before going to the drawing board? Rather than simply “designing for tech,” we must be designing for the home and the consumer’s needs within the home.

Current smart home trends

The future of IoT is in smart home technology, and it seems as though the possibilities are endless. During IHHS, we were able to see new trends emerging in connected commerce, voice technology, and the mobile lifestyle. Some key product areas include:

  • Home Health: From connected thermostats and air monitors to water monitors and flood sensors, home health is the crux of smart home innovation. These product solutions focus on personalized insights, but also require heightened data security models to ensure consumer buy-in.
  • Smart Kitchen: In the kitchen, we’re seeing a wide range of products from recipe managers and smart growing systems to meal services and replenishment. Smart appliance product teams, as well as companies providing full-home virtual and physical assistants, are continuing to iterate and evolve existing technologies in order to streamline processes at home.

The overwhelming theme of smart home innovation is simplification; providing convenience to consumers leads to greater product adoption. Companies should focus on simplifying the usability of the connected home for broader adoption opportunities.

But simplifying the process doesn’t begin in the lab – it begins with the consumer. Product teams should continue to include consumers in the conversation from the ideation stage onward, while continuing to monitor usability and consumer response throughout the development process.

By tapping in to the real time data that existing products provide to their product owners, we can gain rapid-fire insights into product usage. The analysis of this data is critical to your ability to adapt and iterate quickly in order to get your smart home product to market.

If you represent an appliance or housewares company, we’d love to learn more about your product concepts. Get in touch with us to chat more about how we can use existing data to ensure your smart home product will blow your competition out of the water.

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Designing, Building, Launching and Supporting Great IoT

If you're involved with bringing a connected smart device to market, this 12-page guide will give you real-world advice on how to launch a successful product. It includes 26 common questions we think every product owner should ask. Topics include:
  • 1Designing the entire lifecycle of your product, from installation to decommissioning.
  • 2Integrating with other products and services.
  • 3Building resiliency into your system to overcome outages and faulty updates.
  • 4Building a robust process for testing your IoT product.
  • 5Much more.

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