Falling in love again: Smart Homes and the Hollywood ending

Ben Snowman, Head of O2 Home, talks about the recent coverage Smart Home has been receiving in the press.

There has been a lot of buzz about Smart Homes over the last 2-3 years. But more often than not, enthusiasts fail to convey the potential that Smart Homes have to transform peoples’ lives. Why? Because people talk about specific devices, technical specifications or functions, such as switching heating on and off. What is missed, to the detriment of the whole movement, is the human connection. How can Smart Homes make life easier? How can Smart Homes make life safer? How can Smart Homes make life more fun? So it was pleasing to see three news stories appear, within days of each other, which brought this human feeling out, proving that the movement is entering the public psyche.

The first feeling was desire. Last month, John Lewis announced that, year on year, they had seen a 670% increase in customers searching for Smart Home devices and an increase in sales of 81%. This story, featured in The Telegraph, opened with a line saying that smart gadgets were taking over our homes. The sentiment was clear – the breadth of Smart Home devices now available means that customers have the option to make more and more aspects of their lives easier, safer and more fun. From smart heating systems, security and lighting to smart entertainment systems. Customers are starting their journey at one of these points and extending the benefits to other parts of their homes with new smart devices.

Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse with the second feeling, which was frustration. Smart Homes should be simple to use and all the devices should work together through a single app and without the need for technical wizardry. Despite the growing desire for Smart Home devices, a story went viral last month, telling of an 11 hour wait to make a cup of tea using a connected kettle. It turns out that the wait was caused by the owner, a data specialist, attempting to connect his kettle to his Amazon Echo. This highlights one of the major problems today – there are many Smart Home devices out there but it is very difficult to know what works with what and how to link everything up so it all works together. For a home to be smart, the set up and control should be effortless – something we’ve worked very hard on for O2 Home.

The day was saved with the third feeling, love. Just over a week later, eHarmony, the dating website which uses psychometric test data to match couples, published a research report stating that data from Smart Homes could be used to help find love. How? Smart Home data could help classify you as an early bird or night owl, athlete or couch potato and could even say something about your personal hygiene. They estimated that in 20 years, 12m UK adults could be matched using Smart Home data. And so, for the romantics, we got the Hollywood ending we all crave.

What do these three stories tell us? Smart Homes are becoming part of the public psyche because these themes relate to quintessential human emotions. When new technologies become the norm, customers choose the winner. And the winner is the brand that makes the best human connection. The Smart Home movement will succeed when services are presented to customers in a way that makes a compelling human connection and explains how life can be made easier, safer and more fun.

Want to find out more about O2 Home? Take a look at our dedicated website here.