by Stephanie Cedeño
Last week we had the unique opportunity to attend a lecture by Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, head of IoT meetups in London and a well-known leader in the Internet of Things and technology design space. She spoke about her newest book: Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life.
Before Alex’s talk, we toured the Samsung Showcase, a showroom for Samsung’s latest technology features and the company’s newest gadgets.
We discovered that Samsung is entering the smart home market with home appliances (touting a pretty fancy smart washer and refrigerator). There was also a mini-exhibit of the first phone Samsung designed in 1988, and we had some nostalgic laughs looking at all their generations of "flip phones". The Samsung Showcase in Frankfurt is one of only two in the world, the other being in New York City. So, it's exciting to know that we have such a unique experimental space here in Germany. (Pro-tip: they also serve free coffee and hot chocolate at their café).
After the tour, Alex discussed the lessons she learned while researching and writing her book on IoT and smart home technologies – below are a few of our 4 favourites:
1. The home is not a system.
So many times, we want to assign IoT products, services and data to easy, scalable categories. But the truth is that attempts at systematising the home space never lead us anywhere. Every home is different, and the concept of a home is ever-changing. This fact is influenced not only by technological advances but also by the size and location of the home.
2. Invention comes first.
So many start-ups exist in the IoT space because there are so many good ideas. Being inventive and creative is key, but also comes with great risk as there are often problems with patents and people out to steal intellectual property. Did you know that Alexander Graham Bell was not the first to patent the telephone? Another example is a great inventor named Joseph Swan (1878). Never heard of him? Well, we are sure Thomas Edison did!
3. Technology in the home is intimately tied to ideas about the role of women in society.
Historically, and in some cases still today, women have been the primary carers of the home. But, as the role of women in society change, IoT start-ups need to take this into consideration when designing software, products, and services for the smart home. Devices can no longer be developed solely for one end user. They must target multiple users and, even more so, a diversity of home lifestyles.
4. Governments and regulations can have a profound and positive effect on the home.
We often underestimate how governments and regulations can have a profound, sometimes positive, effect on the home space. For example, the Public Health Act of 1866 in the UK mandated indoor bathrooms for hygienic reasons which, led to a decline in disease rates.
Fast forward to today: cybersecurity laws in the USA and Europe‘s GDPR are pushing regulation in a positive direction for end users. Therefore, keeping track of new government policies is crucial for players of all sizes in the technology and IoT space.
We at mozaiq are always looking for ways to balance our love for technology and the nitty-gritty computing backbone of IoT with diverse perspectives from the fields of design, academia, and business. We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to talk and learn more about the smart home space outside of the typical software context.
Our thanks go to Dr. Diana Kupfer from IoT Hessen for organising the event and giving us this great chance to learn from a scholar who combines such seemingly unrelated topics. It was a pleasure meeting you, and we are looking forward to furthering our collaboration in the future.
Learn more about the history of smart homes, how technology shapes our lives and ways you can think about the home when developing new products.