In our not-too-distant future our fridge will never let us down. Our fridge will know that the RFID-tagged cheese has run out, order our favourite brand for us, and handle the delivery.
It’s 2014 and you’re home after a few drinks. Awesome, you have bread, but… no cheese! No cheese on toast for you. This is a scenario we’re all overly familiar with, however, in our not-too-distant future our fridge will never let us down. Our fridge will know that the RFID-tagged cheese has run out, it will know that we return to the house at 1:00am on Fridays, and immediately open the fridge door. In the future, our fridge will understand that our cheese is running out and order our favourite brand for us, inform us, and handle the delivery. But when your fridge does your shopping for you, who decides what to buy?
The connected home is tipped to be a huge growth area over the next few years, with ABI research predicting half a billion wireless smart home monitoring devices installed by 2018. Qualcomm’s presence at Mobile World Congress earlier this year was focussed largely on the smart home. Cisco just launched a $75,000 competition based around security for The Internet of Things (IoT). Berg design consultancy recently pivoted away from consultancy to focus solely on their Berg Cloud software, designed to help developers make everyday objects ‘smart’ (most recently showcased with its Cloudwash smart washing machine). There is now a huge focus on making our devices, and our homes, smarter and more communicative.
Whilst the IoT touches almost everything, the most noticeable area has been the connected home. The first wave was entertainment (smart TVs, music systems, gaming). Next came utilities and lighting (Nest, Hive, Philips Hue). The third wave is looking like security (August lock, Canary). At the heart of all these connected devices is mobile. Smartphones and tablets act as the central control hub for the aforementioned devices - a place for people to manage their smart homes through a familiar, trusted interface always by their side.
As the world becomes more connected and our devices more intelligent, the way people decide what to buy changes. As we move away from traditional purchase journeys, we start to see that purchase decisions will be based on other information. Maybe we automate our favourite purchases so that we never run out, maybe we are notified of the top three reviewed items when we are low on something, maybe fridge manufacturers forge partnerships with retailers to offer preferred products as a priority. Companies are already taking advantage of these new methods of purchase, such as Amazon with its recently announced product Dash.
A future of connected, smart devices affords new purchase methods for consumers, new opportunities for retailers to sell their products, and new ways for retailers to provide value-add services, superior to mechanical and impersonal methods of purchase.
Joel Blackmore is senior innovations manager at mobile agency Somo.