With so much groundbreaking retail-focused technology in consumer’s hands, it’s clear that the tide is shifting into a brave new era.
Gone are the days of wanting something and getting it from a shop. To be fair, as a 30-year-old, even using a laptop to order something on Amazon feels weird.
The other day I almost turned down my own lights. Idiot. “Alexa – dim the lights, please.”
Thanks, that’s better (for some reason, I always say please and thank you to Alexa – I don’t want to upset her when she eventually becomes sentient and starts saying “Daniel, pick up my dry-cleaning”).
“This year really will be all about AI and the connected home”
But what does the next year look like? Last year I got my first Alexa, now I’ve bought one for my bedroom, office, mum, and even my coffee shop owner.
For me it’s all about convenience, but for others, well, it’s a huge enabler. Both my mum, and Demissie, my local coffee shop man, are absolute technophobes.
Explaining how things work 10 times is frustrating for both of us – I find it repetitive and it becomes a waste of my time because they increasingly find it stressful and they forget no matter what I say.
An easier kind of tech
But, in a smart home environment, what if I could set things up for them, and then explain how they talk to everything? Well, that’s something that may well stick.
This year really will be all about AI and the connected home.
And whilst Retail Week is always here to give you the top stories in retail each month, it’s giant events like CES that demonstrate to us each year what major consumer tech we should get excited about.
What better way to start this year than with LG’s smart assistant Cloi (pronounced Chloe)? Cloi’s AI software ThinkQ was set to control everything in your home.
“What if you could ask your hoover to clean your flat whilst at the office, before coming home? Or your sprinklers to water the garden from your bed on a lazy Saturday morning? Or your toilet to start cleaning itself on demand?”
Think: “Cloi, do I have the right ingredients in my fridge to make a chickpea curry tonight, and if not, what am I missing? Order them for me. Oh, and warm the oven up in advance.”
Sounds pretty cool right? Well, sadly Cloi wasn’t having any of it, and repeatedly ignored the instructions from David VanderWall, their US head of marketing.
It was a disaster scene, like a The Office outtake removed because it was too cringey.
So whilst we are on the cusp, as Vanderwall had to admit on stage, even robots have bad days.
Smart is getting smarter
Perhaps we wont be asking our fridge to do our taxes and our toaster to tell us jokes just yet, but what should we expect to see?
What if you could ask your hoover to clean your flat whilst at the office, before coming home? Or your sprinklers to water the garden from your bed on a lazy Saturday morning? Or your toilet to start cleaning itself on demand?
How long before the fridge, freezer, oven, microwave and dishwasher all become one slick voice-controlled machine that can store and cook your food, only then to clean the dishes all in a single demand?
Judging by the calamity at CES this year, I wouldn’t start getting paranoid about your kettle just yet.
But, despite the fact it may take some time for these ‘smart’ appliances to actually get smart, we are certainly on a one-way path towards total automation.