A fridge that notifies you when you’re almost out of ingredients or if meat is near its expiry date. A freezer that recognizes when you are on vacation and immediately switches to power-saving mode. An oven that turns on by voice command and cooks specific areas. A two-way rotating drum washing machine that does the job in half the time and can be activated on the go. A dishwasher that automatically dispenses the detergent and orders it online according to your consumption. Welcome to the house of tomorrow.
Domestic appliance connectivity will make more intuitive and mobile the daily management of the supreme symbol of immobility. Traditionally a synonym for refuge, now even our home and its intelligent appliances will always be with us on our mobile phones.
The innovations showcased by the world’s most prominent home appliance industries at the last IFA Berlin indicate that ‘home’ follows the same destiny as our work and our consciousness: it will be more and more on the cloud. The new system solutions adopted by brands such as Bosch, Siemens, Electrolux, LG and Samsung make all the functionalities and home appliance usage information available to users everywhere and promise maximum efficiency, saving food, water, energy and time.
The deepest change however has nothing to do with cooking time or washing speed. The great news is about the house getting transformed into a family consumption information center. It’s a new facet of the well-known dilemma between privacy and convenience, which we already live on a daily basis when using social media, websites or apps. Not only are our online steps traced and analyzed; from now on even our gestures at home will become data and will guide the next innovations in human living. Our kitchens will be real-time connected by home appliances to manufacturers and supermarkets.
Is it the end of the shopping list? Will supermarkets as we know them lose their reasons to exist? Will they be a place of experience, inspiration and learning, such as the high fashion flagship stores are becoming a meeting and service point rather than a point of sale? Will we be automatically driven to consume the same kind of products, in a spiral fed by information regarding what is in our fridge, the same way the Facebook algorithm suggests content that is related to what we already liked before? Will we receive even more targeted products offer messages also when we will be cooking or eating at our homes?
It’s clear that conversation occasions with consumers will be multiplied, will get more sophisticated and customized. The ability of being relevant – right message, right moment, right person – will be expanded and still more under test. The possibilities for companies to buy advertising according to real time target actions will be extended to home appliances usage. In this new world of traced homes, having a programmatic ad buying team integrated with data analysis, with continuous consumers listening and with creative direction, will give the basis of communication success and commercial results.
The implications of this new connected home context are multiple and not all exciting. At the same time, if the intelligent home will mean more creative conversation opportunities between brands and consumers, less plastic in the seas, less need for water rationing, less air pollution, less global heating, then these changes, more than welcome, are urgent. Home Earth, the house for all of us, deeply thanks the sky, or rather, the cloud.
Ricardo Coen is senior strategist at Y&R Italy.