IKEA’s New Smart Lighting Will Support Alexa, Google Assistant, And Siri

What Happened
IKEA is embracing conversational interfaces as it announced on Tuesday that it is adding voice command support to its TRÅDFRI line of affordable connected lighting, which includes several different LED bulbs with prices starting at $11.99 in the US. Coming this summer, the updated line will be compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s HomeKit (which uses Siri) for voice control. Besides, users will also be able to control the lights via the respective apps.

What Brands Need To Do
By integrating with the three most popular smart home systems, this new line will undoubtedly be versatile enough to appeal to a wide range of smart home shoppers. That, plus its competitive pricing, should help push more consumers to try out connect lighting and familiarize themselves with the voice-controlled smart home setup.

According to BI Intelligence estimates, connected-home device shipments hit 1.8 billion units shipped in 2019. Most of them will support some type of voice control, most likely through integration with digital assistants, as IKEA is doing here, as opposed to building their own voice command solutions. As the availability of smart home devices rapidly grows, they provide a valuable emerging platform for brands to connect with consumers at home via voice, and brands should take a proactive approach and start experimenting with voice experiences.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 

 


Source: The Verge

Microsoft Aims To Turn Windows 10 PCs Into Echo Competitors

What Happened
Microsoft is planning to turn personal computers running Windows 10 into always-on smart speakers with a new HomeHub feature, as the company aims to find a better way to compete with devices like Amazon Echo. First previewed in December, HomeHub is designed to turn a PC into an always-listening device that users can activate Cortana via voice from the lockscreen to provide useful information. Microsoft is also planning to support smart home devices like Philips’ Hue lights, to enable Windows 10 PCs to act as a hub to control and manage smart home hardware.

What Brands Need To Do
Microsoft has been playing catch-up in the smart home device space, and this move should encourage some Windows users to use Cortana more frequently and become familiarized with the voice-activated smart home experience. The company has also worked with Harman Kardon to create an Invoke smart speaker that evokes Amazon Echo’s sleek cylinder design. As voice-based personal assistants like Alexa and Cortana continue to take over as the default interactive layer of smart home devices, brands wishing to tap into the marketing potential of the smart home devices will have to keep a close eye on this development.

 


Source: The Verge

 

Walmart Ventures Into IoT Commerce With Connected Sensor Patent

What Happened
Walmart has started exploring IoT commerce as it filed a patent describing a system of connected sensors that track CPG product consumption at home. Utilizing a wide range of technology such as radio frequencies, Bluetooth, conventional barcodes, and RFID tags, the sensors will be attached to various products and can alert the customer to restock when they are running low on certain household products. Listed in the patent filing are several scenarios that Walmart envisioned to leverage the sensors to learn more about their customers, including an in-fridge one that tracks food consumption and expirations and a RFID system to monitor how much toothpaste is left.

What Brands Need To Do
As smart home technologies continues to evolve, more and more brands are realizing the big potential that connected devices holds for reaching customers at home and collecting relevant data. Venturing into IoT commerce is a timely move for Walmart, but it still has a long way to go before it can catch up with its arch-rival Amazon. While there is no guarantee if any of the ideas that Walmart outlined in this patent will be brought to market any time soon, at least Walmart is actively exploring this area to further implement an omnichannel approach, a strategy that more brands should adopt, with methods to protect user privacy, to reach consumers and learn more about their consumption habits.

 


Source: The Verge

Why Smart Home Appliance Maker Whirlpool Is Buying Recipe Site Yummly

What Happened
Whirlpool, a leading manufacturer of connected home appliances, announced on Thursday that it is acquiring Yummly, a recipe site with personalized recommendations and search. Beyond recipes, Yummly has also partnered with Instacart for one-hour grocery delivery in select cities.

This acquisition will allow Whirlpool to tap into Yummly’s recipe database to enhance its products by, for example, create better Alexa skills for its smart kitchen appliances, which added support for Amazon’s digital voice assistant earlier this year. For example, which the vast library of personalized recipes, the company will be able to make a smart fridge that can offer suggestions for home-cooked meals.

More importantly, perhaps, is the vast amount of user data on food and grocery preferences as well as cooking-related behavioral data that Whirlpool will gain with this acquisition. Whirlpool can apply insights from this data to cater to customers’ kitchen habits better and improve their products accordingly. 

What Brands Need To Do
This acquisition underscores Whirlpool’s commitment to creating connected home appliances with a superior user experience. As one of the world’s largest digital recipe platforms, Yummly boasts more than 20 million registered users, and the user data and cooking-related information that Whirlpool will now have access to will give the company a nice edge as the competition in the smart home space heats up. More brands should be thinking about how they can gain access to relevant consumer data and use it to supercharge your product or service.

 


Source: TechCrunch

Ecobee’s New Thermostat Comes With Alexa Integration

What Happened
Alexa continues to infiltrate the smart home space as it becomes the go-to choice of voice assistant integration for many IoT device makers. Today, smart home device manufacturer Ecobee debuted a smart thermostat Ecobee4 that essentially doubles as a wall-mounted Echo Dot. Besides allowing users to control the room temperature via voice command, it also enables users to access over 10,000 third-party skills. In addition, Ecobee will also be integrating Alexa into a smart light switch coming later this year.

What Brands Need To Do
Connected home devices are estimated to ship over 1.8 billion units by 2019. As the availability of smart home devices rapidly grows, they emerge as a valuable platform for brands to reach consumers at home. As Amazon and the developer community continue to build out Alexa’s capabilities and make it more brand-friendly, brands would be smart to get on board with those devices via integrations or branded skills.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: The Verge

Header image courtesy of Ecobee

Domino’s Launches IFTTT Integrations For Smarter Pizza Delivery

What Happened
Domino’s continues to explore the use of digital technologies in pizza delivery as the company announces a new integration with IFTTT. For those uninitiated, IFTTT, an acronym for “If this, then that,” is a platform that allows users to create customized, conditional interactions between apps, online services, and other connected devices.

Previously, Domino’s has created a few applets on IFTTT to facilitate sync-up between pizza ordering and other app-based actions. Now with the new integrations, the pizza chain is allowing customers to automate their smart home devices based on the status of their pizza delivery. For example, they can set up an IFTTT action that automatically turns off their connected sprinklers or turn on the porch lights when their pizza delivery is arriving.

What Brands Need To Do
Domino’s is no stranger when it comes to leveraging digital tools to enhance its customer experience with a tech halo, notably for its experiments of “one-click ordering.” The company previously created an Alexa skill and a Google Assistant action for ordering pizza via voice command. This IFTTT integration is a natural step as the company continues to dive deeper into the smart home space to optimize its pizza delivery experience for the tech-savvy customers.

The smart home is a new frontier for brands to explore, with emerging connected devices offering brands a way to reach customers at home and unlock new experiences. According to IHS Markit, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide in 2016, a 64% increase from 2015. And that number is only set to grow. For brands looking to improve their retail or customer experiences, Domino’s sets an example in how new digital tools can be applied to better serve connected consumers at home.

 


Source: Engadget

Now You Can Ask Alexa To Send You A Plumber Thanks To HomeAdvisor

What Happened
Home service-booking site HomeAdvisor has launched an Alexa skill to allow Echo users to book a home service professional without lifting a finger. Once a homeowner activates the skill, Alexa will ask for the user’s zip code and phone number. Then HomeAdvisor will match the homeowner up with a home service professional in the local area to give the homeowner a call to confirm a booking. Users can also use the skill to find help for their home improvement or even landscaping projects.

What Brands Need To Do
It is interesting to see that HomeAdvisor beat Amazon to the punch with this Alexa skill, considering the ecommerce giant has launched their own online home service marketplace Home Services last year, which Amazon has yet to integrate with Alexa. As evidenced by Alexa’s dominance at this year’s CES, Amazon’s voice assistant has an early lead in becoming the interface of many a voice-activated home device, making it a valuable platform for brands seeking to reach consumers at home. This HomeAdvisor is but one of the latest addition to Alexa’s growing capabilities, which is ushering in a new type of audio-based discovery and engagement that brands need to adapt to.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: GeekWire

SXSW 2017: Kasita Aims To Commodify The Smart Home Experience

What Happened
Kasita is an one-year-old startup based in Austin, TX that wants to transform the way people think about home ownership and interior design by providing the perfect modern home experience. The startup developed a prototype unit, a compact modular home that can be transported from city to city without the need for boxing up everything first. The company announced at SXSW today that it has started taking orders for units based on the prototype, which will cost around $139,000 each.

Catering to its millennial customers, Kasita’s prefab units will come integrated with many advanced smart home devices, including an Amazon Echo smart speaker, a Doorbird smart doorbell, glass windows with adjustable transparency, and many other smart home appliances. The entire smart home experience will be manageable via the Kasita app, allowing for a unified control and user experience.

What Brands Need To Do
According to IHS Markit, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide in 2015, a 64 percent increase compared to the year before. As mainstream consumers start to embrace smart home devices, Kasita’s unique approach to designing a holistic smart home experience should serve as an inspiration to hospitality and travel brands, who need to strive to provide guests a convenient and personalized experience. They can deliver a modernized guest experience by leveraging the slew of smart home devices and on-demand services, and truly makes the guests feel at home by letting them talk to Alexa or log into Netflix the same way they would at home.

 


Source: AustinInno

Header image courtesy of Kasita’s website

Google Assistant Adds Support For WeMo And Honeywell Devices

What Happened
Google Assistant continues to play catch-up with Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service as it adds support for two prominent brands in smart home gadgets, Belkin’s Wemo and Honeywell. At this year’s CES, where Alexa basically dominated the show floor, Google Assistant also unveiled several upcoming brand integrations, including one with new Mercedes-Benz models as well as NVIDIA’s new connected home product line. Most recently, the search giant partnered with HBO to promote its hit show Westworld with a bot named Aeden that is programmed to answer some show-related questions.

What Brands Need To Do
As Google continues to add integrations for Google Assistant in order to compete with Alexa, voice-activated assistant services are quickly becoming more component. And if what we saw at CES earlier this month is any indication, they are set to take over the home space and bring AI-powered interfaces to mainstream consumers soon. Resultantly, it is becoming more evident than ever that voice-based brand-customer interaction is something that brands have to explore and master if they wish to establish a new touchpoint in consumers’ living rooms.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building chatbots and Alexa Skills to reach consumers on conversational interfaces, which we’ve leveraged to develop a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The NiroBot we built in collaboration with Ansible for Kia is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: VentureBeat

CES 2017 Day 1: LG’s Robot Butler, Plus Highlights From The Smart Home Space

Welcome to the Lab’s coverage of the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, the biggest annual tech trade show that sets the consumer tech trends for the coming year. As with previous years, the Lab has a team on the ground in Las Vegas scouting the show floors to bring you the most noteworthy discoveries and announcements that marketers need to know.

What We Saw At CES
It would be an understatement to say that this year’s CES is seeing a surge in smart home devices. We touched upon the ongoing diversifications of smart home products in our first CES newsletter, but there are so many cool little gadgets that aim to make your home life a little easier that we couldn’t include them all. So here are some more highlights from the smart home space at CES.

On Wednesday, LG unveiled Hub Robot, a smart home device intended to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home. Instead of being more like a cylinder speaker, this R2D2-shaped home assistant robot can not only tell you the weather but also start your vacuum cleaner and turn on your oven, provided that you have connected home appliances that can talk to the Hub Robot over Wi-Fi. LG says it is looking to release this product in select countries within 2017.

In contrast, other new smart home devices on display at CES tend to be a bit more focused in terms of functions. In the bedroom, Sensorwake Oria aims to enhance the quality of sleep with a connected fragrance dispenser. For the bathroom, Moen’s new shower system allows you to pre-heat the water and configure other aspects of your shower experience with a mobile app.

Then in the kitchen, Hello Egg from startup RnD64 is an egg-shaped AI assistant designed to help you plan your meals and grocery shopping meals. As for the refrigerators, there are FridgeCam by Smarter and the NeOse smell recorder that uses camera and smell sensors, respectively, to help you track the freshness of your food and detect expired and spoiled items. In addition, LG also introduced a smart fridge that you can talk to thanks to its integration with Amazon’s Alexa, which is quickly taking over the smart home space and becoming something akin to an operating system for the IoT home devices.

What This Means For Brands
The diversification of home IoT devices showcases the rapid growth and vast value in the smart home space. Revenue in the connected home market is expected to surpass $10,400 million in 2017, with its household penetration rate estimated to hit 32%. As they continue to gain momentum in the consumer market and adopt voice-based interfaces such as Alexa to facilitate user interactions, smart home devices hold great potential for brands because they offer a way in for those brands to reach consumers at home and connect with them in a more intimate, relaxed context. Therefore, brand marketers, especially those in the CPG, food, and lifestyle categories, need to pay close attention to the developments in the smart home space and start exploring possible partnerships.