It’s not about connecting ›things‹, it’s about real life experiences

When you look at what’s on the market, do you see necessary life enhancements? There’s much more to be done to empower citizens through their connections.
Until now, a lot of the hype around the Internet of Things has been coming from the producers rather than the consumers. Organizations have been jumping on the innovation bandwagon to shift their products into the digitally supported space. But a lot of what has come out if this craze isn’t exactly “smart”. Do people really need a connected bookmark, iKettle, or the ability to speak to their fridge? This is why we need to move away from thinking in “things” and start looking at “connected living”.

Connected living brings the focus back to real life. And life is made up of interactions, relationships and experiences, with both people and, of course, devices. We need to consider these relationships when developing new products and services so it’s not simply about connecting one device to another. We need to focus on creating meaningful, supportive devices that can become part of the larger sphere of everyday life—our experiences don’t start and finish at a touch screen.

Smart homes are a perfect example of where the industry has gone awry; it’s in this particular area that we need to take a good look around and re-furbish the idea of connectivity in real life. Right now, there is so much going on that people don’t quite know what to do with it.  They don’t know what to do because many of the innovations don’t serve a specific need – this is the crucial missing link.

We’ve learned through our approach to design—that approach being research, research and more research—that in order to create valuable services in the connected living space, you first need to understand everyday environments better. And not only your environments, but the environments of individual users.

This approach has revealed many interesting insights, but one trend in particular has really stood out: people turn to connected devices for support when going through a life change. Whether traumatic or not, personal changes can leave people feeling vulnerable. A life event is often the trigger that makes people think about security in their homes, or seek solutions to help them cope with everyday situations – it’s very much based on emotion.

This is where the real benefits of connected devices can be seen. They have a much larger ecosystem to interconnect emotional and practical experiences. If done well, there will be a natural bridge between the physical and digital so the connected living experience becomes a meaningful part of the user’s life.

As technology advancements open doors to even more exciting possibilities, we see the user becoming all the more important. The next step will be to enable them to influence the technology in their lives and customize their experience. So to those organizations out there creating connected devices “just because”, it’s time to start looking at the bigger picture or you can be certain your products will have a very short shelf life.