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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Designing Smart Home Products

A long time thought of mine, when I saw Worlds Fair displays of the future, when running an innovation center, what smart home products will be used?

Designing Smart-Home Products That People Will Actually Use
Ryan Shanks, Francis Hintermann in the HBR

In the late 1950s, RCA Whirlpool introduced the world to the “Miracle Kitchen,” a bold vision of the future in which every device in the home was automated, networked, and tasked with making life easier and safer. Part futuristic proof of concept, part propaganda, the Miracle Kitchen excited consumers and sparked the famous “Kitchen Debate” between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev. There was just one problem: The technology wasn’t ready.

More than 60 years later, the technology is finally ready, but many consumers still aren’t.

Despite the growing ecosystem of devices, software, and services for homes, we have yet to see explosive growth in the smart-home market. Aside from some technophiles, consumers still struggle to see how smart-home products or services will be relevant to them in their daily lives, let alone understand all the technology upgrade cycles and platform and integration options. Our research bears this out. According to an Accenture survey of more than 6,000 people across 13 geographic areas, 25% of consumers of smart-home products and services consider themselves “Explorers” (meaning lead adopters) while 63% say they are “Navigators” (followers). Because of this, the smart home is stuck in the chasm of the technology adoption curve — caught in the early-adopter phase and struggling to move to mass-market adoption.

We used this survey as a starting point to better understand what’s happening with smart-home technology. We also directly observed 40 individuals in their homes, allowing us to dig into their behaviors, routines, and communication and to explore how technology impacts their identities and motivations. We then tested our findings with more than 25 global clients during strategic innovation sessions at our R&D center, and used their feedback to refine our thinking.

Through the lens of this work, we see a rare opportunity for companies to rethink two areas of their business: product design and marketing. In our view, product design is still too removed from the end user, and marketing strategies are still too focused on selling products based on outmoded personas and traditional market segments.

We categorized smart-home customers into a new set of eight personas, and we suggest that companies consider their different characteristics before designing and marketing smart-home products.  .... "

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