The Promise of the IoT

I'm still optimistic despite some personal setbacks.

A few weeks ago, I finally moved into my new home in Arizona. Although I was tempted. I didn’t go crazy selecting features for my house. (The motorized shade for the 20-feet of glass was too cool to pass up.) To be sure, I certainly could have opted for any number of smart appliances.

While setting up my Wi-Fi network, I noticed that that I could connect my thermostat via an app for my iPhone. (Cool, I thought, and I didn’t buy a Nest.) After noodling with my settings for 30 minutes, I still couldn’t get my network to recognize my thermostat. A bit miffed, I called the manufacturer’s 1-800 number.

After navigating the phone queue, I spent 10 minutes on hold before I could diagnose the problem with a technical rep. Let’s just say that things didn’t go smoothly. Nearly an hour later, I hung up the phone in frustration at our inability to achieve our goal.

The Early IoT Verdict: Frustration Fused with Promise

Things should not be this hard. Like coffeemakers, it seems to me that thermostats shouldn’t be allowed to break.

Things should not be this hard.

That interaction summed up my own experiences with the nascent Internet of Things (IoT). (A few years ago, Bluetooth issues confounded my first foray into smartbulbs.) Despite these setbacks, I’m a big believer in the IoT for several reasons.

First, on a personal level, I’ve seen some of these devices actually, you know, work. Case in point: I stayed at an AirBNB in Austin, TX last year and didn’t need a key to enter my temporary abode. A smartlock and code obviated made the very idea of a key seem so 20th century.

Second, let’s just say that I’m not new to the tech world. There’s always a learning curve; things never smoothly at first. Along these lines, I remember the fledgling days of the Web, search, and e-mail. I can vividly recall search results completely unrelated to my queries in 1996. I can cite many examples of webpages not rendering properly in Mosaic, if at all. And don’t get me started on the difficulty of configuring early e-mail clients, especially when search results left more than a little to be desired.

Simon Says: We’re getting there.

It’s evident to me that connecting to different IoT devices is getting easier but, at least at present, it’s hardly easy. Big difference. Remember that few people want to come home from work and tinker with settings and call tech support. If the unprecedented success of Apple has taught us anything, it’s that many if not most of us just want things to work. Period.

I suspect that, as we head towards that lofty goal with the IoT, it will start to reach its vast promise.

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What say you?

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3 hopefully intriguing thoughts:

  1. Mike Pordes

    Phil,

    I agree we are getting there. Feels to me there are generational tendencies that may emerge in the next coming years as far as expectations and almost demands on IoT offerings. Being at University is a good place to see that. If IoT starts being embedded in our education system facilities, even as early as elementary school it just becomes part of life….

    There are a couple things being 39, living in a house with a wife and a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old that I see as convenient and willing to pay if there were good solutions.

    1. Morning Information: somehow once I walk into the Kitchen it would be nice to know the high temp for the day, when it might start raining and if there is precipitation. or temp 15% different than average within the next 3 days tell me that.

    2. Door keys: agreed with your AirBnB experience. Why have them. When one has 3 babysitters plus inlaws it would be nice to be able to unlock the front door from anywhere. I know this is available already, just might become standard as a convenience.

    3. Supplies ordering: if there was some closet that had a scanner on it and it knew when supplies were getting lower and order was placed and supplies arrived. These would be classified as subscription supplies. there is this available but the inventory part of it is not something I have seen or use yet. I am ordering things through Amazon now, just so I can reorder through Alexa.

    To your point around tech support — What if there was a at home IoT helpdesk – some company that had consolidated expertise on home IoT devices. you would log your hardware as you buy it, your life stats, and you had a personal rep to help you. They could monetize by describing and marketing other IoT solutions during the tech calls and help you get it done. If the helpdesk company could even offer some IoT hardware with some camera and monitoring type capabilities included…

    Reply
    • Phil Simon

      I love the idea of an IoT helpdesk but there are far too many different devices to make that feasible at this point.

      Reply
      • Mike

        What if you just had qualified support for the top 5 in each “home category” and a “we may be able to help” for others?

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