home automationproduct

The smart-ish home

Oh my goodness..

Having recently moved to a house I was looking forward to automating my new home. As a long time Apple user HomeKit seemed like the natural choice. Consequently, because of it’s founding company, Apple, I kind of expected things to be smooth sailing. After all home automation is everywhere these days ranging from cameras, to [insert pretty much whatever you like] sensors, buttons, fridges and the grand father of all home automation – the light bulb.

But let’s face it, it’s not.

A market problem?

The market for home automation is huge. But still, in my experience it’s still an early adopter market.

If we assume for a second I’m right about this being an early adopter market, then the obvious question becomes: Why isn’t it taking off? Why aren’t we going into early majority? Why aren’t we crossing the famous chasm?

Clearly the money is there, the willingness to pay, the manufacturing costs are reasonable, the belief in tech as the solution to the problem as well.

A product problem?

If it’s not the market, is it a product problem? I’d argue it’s not. The products are for the most part both extremely simple to install & configure and easy to use. While the value prop ranges from great (eg. save money on heating) to gimmicky (yes I’m looking at you connected floral stick), there is a clear promise for how this could help make your life easier.

The problem is, it’s doesn’t. And in order for this to go mainstream, it kind of has too.

An ecosystem problem?

Is it a problem with the ecosystems then? It depends on how you look at it. Alexa, HomeKit, Cortana, they’re all there and fix the interoperability nightmare, but then what? Does it work and is it really that smart?

Well do you say, of course it works. I’ve configure my fan to go on when it’s warm and my ac kicks in if necessary, but only if it’s direct sunlight and there’s a frog detected in my driveway.

Yes, I’m mocking this a bit, but that’s where you easily end up. It may actually also be exactly what should happen but it’s just too complex to configure.

So why, in 2019 is this still so hard? I guess the honest answer is because the overall tech isn’t actually smart, and if it isn’t smart it’s likely to continue to be an early adopter technology. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a market of course, and player like IKEA are doing great things to make it people friendly, but still.. besides being cool – what problem does it actually solve?

The holy grail

Home automation is about making tech automatically do things for us. The problem is just there, automatically. I’d argue that’s not enough, and that it actually needs to be automagically in nature to truly provide value.

So while the holy grail of eco systems today with the likes of HomeKit, SmartThings, Google Home etc. today are great at making sure the tech can talk to each other, the obvious next step is for it to automagically do it for us.

What I’m missing in this equation is an AI that figures out I really only want the AC on if there’s a frog in the driveway, not program it myself.

If I wanted to code, I’d do just that.

#homeautomation #smarthome #homekit #ai