Analysis & Opinion

Intel on the smart home: “Let’s not be sneaky”

“Let’s bring the consumer services they value"

“Let’s bring the consumer services they value”

We are all more than familiar with the quid pro quo at the heart of commercial free TV: here’s some content free of charge. In return, please watch these advertisements…

It’s something we largely take for granted, but, when you do think about it, it reveals itself anew as pretty great deal, all in all, a real win-win.

The concept is something we might like to keep in mind when imagining the future of the smart home.

For, just as the TV set gave corporations a direct route into the consumer’s intimate living- and head space, so the connected home potentially presents a similarly profound opportunity for a meaningful, mutually beneficent exchange.

After all, the effect automation could have on our lives in the coming decades is potentially huge.

“70% of the fights within a married couple’s home are around who’s going to do the dishes,” points out Martin Despain, director of the smart home for Intel. “Something as simple as that can be solved as robotics and other things start coming into the home.”

The question, he points out, is how to fund this level of automation.

“It’s going to have to be by being able to share information. We talk to insurance companies, and yes they’re interested in leak detection and things like that, but they have 17 or 18 other services that they want to introduce you to. They would like to engage with you in the home. So what if they started sponsoring your personal assistant in your home? Or what if they started sponsoring your family calendar?”

The question is entirely relevant to the contemporary connected home scene.

“How do we find new ways to monetise this information we have but at the same time empower the end consumers so that they’re the ones allowing you to monetise?” Despain asks. “Let’s not be sneaky. Let’s bring the consumer services they value.”

This year, he attended CES for the fourteenth year in a row. “Everywhere you turned people were saying ‘smart home smart home.’ The reality is I didn’t see any smart homes. I saw a great deal of connected homes, I saw a great deal of point products that brought some level of compute, or some level of logic, into the home, but I didn’t see a smart home.”

By a smart home, he means something cohesive, something that brings together all the disparate connected product and puts them into conversation with one another, so that solutions and suggestions can then be offered to the user. A system that not only notices when you lock up at night, but one attentive enough to know when you’re late, and can respond accordingly.

What’s interesting is that, from a technological standard, everything’s already in place. It’s mostly a matter of being able to bring in what Despain calls “non-traditional ecosystem partners” into the fold.

“When people talk about the concept of a smart pantry, for example, they tend to go to the hard technology: ‘ok, we put RS sensors in every piece of food and cameras on the refrigerator…’ All of which in the long term will happen. But in the short term, why don’t we just take the APIs from your loyalty card? And say, ‘I know for the last month you brought these things, I know over the last three you brought these, so the first thing I’m going to do is start to produce a grocery list for you?’”

The example of loyalty card is interesting in itself since these already offer a transparent quid pro quo: your detailed shopping data in return for money off. It’s an approach Despain argues could really drive the dissemination of the smart home concept.

“Intel’s concept is to be able to present to the end consumer with the options as to how they can use their data. One of the first things you have to be able to introduce is transparency. Not to stop them using it but to educate them and give them that choice.”

Don’t miss Martin at this month’s Smart Home World (23 – 24 June 2015 Royal Garden Hotel, London). Click here to find out more,

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