Amazon and the race towards the intelligent home


In the past two weeks, Amazon has announced two product launches that build on the success of its smart assistant, the Echo. The Echo Show adds a touchscreen, while the Echo Look adds a camera. Marketed respectively as a home hub and a digital stylist – that can help you take selfies of your look and compare outfits – the new products are targeted to live on your kitchen or living room countertop, and in your bedroom, respectively.

It’s clear that Amazon wants to get its devices into every room in the home, and into every feasible situation – from ordering a pizza to clothes shopping – leading consumers to buy further and further into its ecosystem, and consume more of its items and experiences. Everything it sells is connected: as CEO Jeff Bezos has said of Amazon’s TV shows: “When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes.”

But if you look a little further into the announcements, you see that Amazon – like most of the other big tech brands – is betting big on one area: the home. As smartphone sales settle, the next device that consumers will be buying in to is likely to live in the home. The key question is what will this device be and what will it do – and right now, no-one can tell you. But there are some key contenders shaping up.

At CES this January, all eyes were on the home robot – a smart assistant with cute, WALL-E-esque eyes and a defined personality of its own. Ikea is now running an online survey to find out how its customers feel about home AI, to help it determine what kind of assistant they want to interact with in the home.

Another big bet is mixed reality. Headsets such as Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap’s point towards home applications ranging from hangouts and calls to next-level games, movies and experiences, and could succeed the games console as the next essential entertainment device to have in your home.

As the intelligent home develops, look out for many more product categories to emerge – from wallpaper that responds to your state of mind to kitchen aids that can suggest what kind of meal you should cook, based on your personal health profile. Because ultimately, every part of our home has the capacity to become intelligent, responsive and predictive. As consumers, we all now need to consider not just what devices we will buy into, but which brand we are willing to share our most personal space and moments with.

At WGSN, we’ll be tracking these developments in detail, particularly with upcoming spotlight report The Intelligent Home. For a primer on current consumer attitudes and product innovations within the domestic Internet of Things, read our previous report, The Connected Home.

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