The On-Off Switches Of The Internet Of Things

As simple as it sounds, much of the activity within The Internet of Things in homes just involves turning things on and off.

The idea of smart appliances often means turning something on to coincide with consumer activity.

For example, the heat being turned on just before a consumer returns home, a coffee maker turned on remotely when a person awakes in the morning or a light being turned on or off when a person enters or leaves a room are obvious examples.

For those activities to occur, the smarts often is built into the device being activated.

I recently came across a totally different approach to home control from digitalStrom, a German company with a large presence at CES in Las Vegas.

The company has created small devices called terminal blocks that look like Lego pieces.

The devices can be placed behind any electrical connection, and typically would be installed by an electrician, home builder or a consumer comfortable with installing an electrical switch.

The key is that any electrical connections can use one of the terminal blocks, all of which become part of the connected home system.

This converts any device to somewhat of a smart device, since the device or appliance then can be turned on or off via smartphone, tablet, natural language and even facial recognition.

Existing non-connected fixtures and appliances gain intelligent functionality, since they then can be turned on or off remotely and at will.

The idea is that rather than investing in a smart appliance, a consumer could add a terminal block behind where a device plugs in, automatically adding that device to the home network.

“Onboarding new devices has to be easy,” Martin Vesper, CEO of digitaStrom told me during a private demo of the in-home connections system.

There are other approaches to connecting home appliances, opening up doors to where advertising may play a role, as I wrote about here recently (The TV Pause For A Message (And Ad?) From The Smart Appliance).

For brands and agencies, the coming issue is where and how to be involved when something is turned on or off.

And more of that turning on and off will involve a consumer viewing a different screen depending on what is being turned on or off.


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