It's taken a few years - as any new technology does - but connected devices are finally starting to come into their own. I don't mean there are more available or they are finally in the public consciousness. Rather that connected products have gotten to a mature enough point where we can do something with them.
Built from the foundations laid by hobby platforms such as X10 and Vera and commercial solutions akin to Control4 and Crestron, the new wave of home automation is not only easier to use but inherently more use case focused. Focused on making meaningful connections between products. Rather than a combination of products to which there are indeed finite but seemingly limitless and infinite ways to tie them together, we build towards individual connections that are easy to understand:
- Motion sensors that trigger lights
- Securing a house when no one is home
- Monitoring the health of a home to know when work is needed
- Changing the climate in our homes depending on our location inside of them
These are not new. Lutron has a light switch that will monitor motion and turn lights on when someone enters and off when the room is unoccupied. If our devices are truly connected they should talk to each other and react to our normal routine without continued input.
Said more simply, we’ve all created products that are 50–100% more expensive than their unconnected alternative for the purpose of turing our phone into a universal remote control. And like most universal remote controls — these products are not the easiest to get setup and running.
Once again, we’ve fallen into the invention trap. New technology is great — but this particular use case has simply given the consumer more things they need to worry about.
Could this be the first wave of consumer product invention in history that doesn’t just give folks different things to worry about — but actually gives them less things to worry about?
It's a push and a plea for objects that are empowered and pull the technology into the background so we can continue interacting with the world around us free from interruption. It's one of the main reasons I love working on the projects everyone at Wink is pushing forward day in and day out.
There is more to all of this. More coming. Making passive connections is the first step towards making contextual computing a reality. Moving from a heads down personal technological landscape into one that is more reactive to the scenarios we move through in our daily lives. Oh so close to Jared Ficklin's Room-E.
We are building products which are mindful of the people and environment around them and react to it. The only way we will come to love our connected products is if they stop interrupting our lives and start adding to them.