On the final day of Web Summit, the Machine Summit stage attempted to solve the modern day mystery; what will drive adoption for home automation.
As we pointed out on day one of this year’s Web Summit, protecting the data created by connected devices is of the utmost importance. George Yianni, Head of Technology with Philips and particularly focused on their Hue lighting systems, describes their approach to data as almost being hygienic. “The fears I have about the explosion in connected products is that one will do something wrong” Yianni outlined, before adding that “the vast majority take data capture and usage extraordinarily seriously”. His on stage colleague, Logitech’s Bracken Darrell provided a poignant comparison between current anxieties and the unlikelihood that twenty years ago many would have believed our credit card details would be stored in a hackable cloud.
The physical space
Chair of the talk, Andy O’Donoghue joked about Ireland’s buoyant housing market, before asking if the actual building process was something of interest to the home automation industry. Yianni described the stance of Philips as focusing on the consumer and selling individual solutions, but did find the “commitment” of some construction jobs now going ahead with no light switches as brave, considering there would be “no way back” for these adopters.
From here, the conversation was clearly getting to the crux of the issue. Home automation technology would have to push past simply being a cool gadget to being a meaningful service in the home. Mike Harris, founder of Zonoff, gave the example of smart locks being able to allow access to emergency responders when necessary. The panel nodded together that this could be considered a life or death development, considering the large percentage of over 70 year olds who die from falls in the home.
Is the best interface no interface?
This question stems from a term bandied about earlier in another talk that “no interface is the best interface”. While minimal interface usage is preferred, end users are unlikely to have programming ability and while every effort to utilise sensors, locations and trends, users will always require some place to input their requests.
What will drive adoption for home automation?
It becomes increasingly clear from listening to several speakers over the course of Web Summit that a certain degree of data bartering must occur between IoT services and end users. Online shopping requires some of our most sensitive data to be shared online, but we barely give it a second thought. Yet the idea of using a device such as the August Smart Lock to allow a courier to drop something to our home when we’re away is something we’re far from comfortable with.
Would you use @AugustSmartLock to allow a courier drop a package to your home when you're away? #websummit
— Goos3D (@Goos3D_IE) November 5, 2015
However, if the bartering of data to service can weigh in tip of the consumer, such as the convenience of cheap prices online and products delivered to your home, people will user the service. In order to drive the adoption of home automation, technology must come with a feeling of “how did I ever live without it”.