Talk to anyone on IoT and the discussions veer around Smart Homes and one can turn a staid home into a smart home. But having gone deeper into this is the last 6 months, I see that many hackneyed examples which are being talked about as use cases have not moved beyond an enthusiast’s realm. This has hardly gone mainstream. To go mainstream 4 areas have to be mastered, as we look at deploying smart devices to make smart homes. These are easy to mention but hard to master.
The areas to be mastered are:
- Should be a child’s play – Users do not want to be burdened to more than a click of a button. Calling someone like the cable guys to install (costs time , money and effort), installing apps ( becomes one too many and bothersome as it takes up memory ), creating an account ( takes time and effort), pairing and syncing devices and joining a home Wi-Fi network ( this could be a challenge given the networks we have which are sometimes congested ). Add to this interoperability ( can the fridge work with the voltage stabilizer? ).
- Should fit into the income and NOT disposable income – If sensors and actuators have to be embedded in the home appliances of today, costs could go up. While IPv6 protocol would take care of IP addresses, still the deployment of IPv6 for IP addresses per device is a couple of years down the line.Today smart refrigerators in countries like US and UK can add to a significant cost to the tune of $200 or equivalent. The value derived for the cost could be a suspect.
- Should not invite security breaches – Security and its cousin, privacy, are something which have not been perfected. Reports suggest 75 % of the Bluetooth smart locks can be hacked.With the regular reports of IoT devices leak data, the industry is not instilling a lot of confidence in the consumer.As companies like Amazon and Google are trying to take control of the home, to be the home-hub of sorts , no one tells us how transparent she would be in handling private data. No one likes to be spied in . Least of all at homes!!
- Is it a “Want” or a “Need”? – Value needs to be created for a price to be paid. The Price – Value equation would be important. Some of us must have watched an awkward interview with Mark Zuckerberg and Jerry Seinfeld
The pair were talking about home automation and Seinfeld said: “Isn’t it funny how we work so hard to just eliminate a little bit of effort?”
The question is are we solving something which needs to be solved or we are putting technology first and pushing the business use case to the background?
I am not concluding that IoT is not ripe enough to be put to use, but the business use case needs to justify that. “Is smart home the place where you place your bets?”, is the billion dollar question.