Smart watches are getting smarter. A second-generation swathe on display at IFA last month gracefully made the point. Swankily strapped, slimmed down and circular, they are starting to look less and less like their geeky forebears, and more like something I might wear one day. This of course is aided by slowly but surely lengthening battery lives and an increasingly diversified set of offerings and prices.
However, aesthetics, price and endurance – no matter how improved – will mean little to me and millions of other consumers until the IoT potential of smart watches is truly unlocked.
Devices and technologies exhibited at IFA didn’t disappoint on this front either. Walking into the LG Smart Home demonstration, our hostess brought her futuristic abode to life by informing her LG Watch Urbane that she was “coming home” which put on the lights, air con and speakers. “Going out” brought the house to a standstill again. Meanwhile, Withings demonstrated the integration of its Home IP Camera with the Apple Watch that allows you to track your household activities from your wrist.
Both of these use-case scenarios hint at the broader potential of smart watches – as the ideal nexus between the smart home and the smart person.
Although the smartphone has been touted as the hub of choice in an increasingly connected world, a case can be made for the smart watch as an ideal mediator in its own right; always body-borne, voice-command ready and motion-detection capable, the smart watch is potentially a much more intuitive and natural way to interact with the smart home.
No surprise then that in our Smart Home Survey, smart watch owners were the most likely to buy a smart home product in the near future – not just a reflection of their early adopter status, but also of the growing recognition that their existing purchases have more value integrated into their own Internet of Things (IoT).
Indeed, in the world of IoT, each individual object’s utility is a function of the network effects between dozens of other interacting things. Smart-home appliances will have more value thanks to the context provided by smart watches – and vice versa. Such a convergence will enable an ever-smarter smart home that pre-empts the needs of its occupants rather than passively responding to their commands.
This theme was highlighted in our very own CONTEXT Retail CEO Breakfast at IFA, where David Bailey, VP of Global Retail Development at SmartThings, argued that it is key to communicate not just what consumers can “do with” the new technology but, more importantly, what the technology can “do for” them.