Finding Home Outside of the Home

IKEA recently published their annual Life at Home report for research done in 2018. The study, in its 5th year, is extensive, reaching 22,000 people across 22 countries. The goal is to better understand how people actually use and see their homes in today’s changing world.

This year IKEA found a shift. In 2016, 20% of survey respondents felt most at home somewhere besides the place where they live. In 2018 that number increased to 29% for people who live outside of cities and 35% for people who live in cities. IKEA identifies 5 needs that contribute to feeling at home: privacy, comfort, ownership, security, and belonging. The suggestion is that a growing number of people are satisfying these basic needs elsewhere.

Why it’s Hot

Increase in population, urbanization, and economic stratification mean less living space for individuals and families. When the basic needs of feeling at home are not met where people live, people will search elsewhere. Brands and governments will be asked to respond.

Alexa can now unlock August Smart Locks

Over the summer, smart lock maker August announced its first integration with Amazon’s smart home assistant Alexa. It was pretty basic – letting users check whether unit was locked or not. Naturally, people wanted to know, for better or worse, when they’d actually be able to unlock their front door with the sound of their voice, for when you’re chopping onions like the lady in the above press photo.

That follow up functionality has arrived – though it brings a key caveat for safety’s sake. In order to actually utilize the feature, users will have to enter a four to 12 digit PIN code each time, in addition to telling the AI, “Alexa, ask August to unlock my door.”

Here’s CEO Jason Johnson on why the feature was added,

Before adding the unlock feature, we needed to be sure we could maintain our standard for security. Now users have the convenience of using Alexa to unlock their door using their voice and a secure voice PIN from anywhere in the home.

The company has added the extra step for obvious security reasons – you likely don’t want passersby unlocking your front door by simply asking nicely. It’s a necessary security addition, perhaps, but one that seems to mitigate the usefulness of the new feature.

Like the older Alexa skill, this one requires the lock be networked to either the August WiFi Bridge or the company’s doorbell camera.

Source: Tech Crunch

Why it’s hot

As a recent loser of my keys, I can appreciate the utility of something like this. What’s interesting is how the intersection of convenience and security will play out — will people be frustrated by extra steps or angry about anything that sacrifices their security? This also a good way to showcase how voice recognition technology will come into our lives in different ways and how the competition of partnerships between Alexa, Google Home, etc. will be fueled.


Mother: The Overbearing Home Automation Kit

Even my own mother wouldn’t care about my daily activities as much as’s Mother. From the amount of your coffee intake to the number of times you brush your teeth (actually, my mom would care about that), you can track almost any activity in your home and out with this monitoring system. The “creepy” looking matroschka (“Mother”) comes with four Motion Cookies you can attach to walls, doors, toothbrushes, keys, what have you, and you can monitor your activities through a central app.

Why It’s Hot: Amid the rise of monitoring devices like Nest and Fitbit, Mother takes a more comprehensive approach. There is potential for each of those specialized companies to evolve into an all-encompassing system, but Mother is the one that offers a glimpse into the Home of the Future. I like the idea of endless possibilities with a simple “cookie,” which could, in my imagination, eventually turn into less cumbersome little dots. It’s also fun to think about the potential integration with existing apps (e.g. Duolingo) and applications of this data. With an evolved system, there could be more straightforward insights that can encourage you to be healthier and more responsible.

Google Opens Nest API To Control Home Devices

Nest Labs, recently acquired by Google and maker of internet connected thermostats and smoke detectors, has opened its software to third-party developers.  This will now allow outside developers to build applications around the Nest’s existing product line of “internet of things.”

Why It’s Hot:

Nest has established early partnerships with the likes of Jawbone, Whirlpool, Mercedes-Benz, IFTT, and Logitech.  All of these partners have released new Nest-compatible features that fully integrate with the Nest products.

According to the company, you can, for example, have your connected light bulbs flash red as a warning when your smoke detector senses smoke or carbon monoxide.  Or you can have your Mercedes communicate to your thermostat when you will be home so it can turn on the AC before you arrive.

“This API program is about more than just basic control,” Nest representative says. “It is more about customer experiences and making them better in the home.”

The program could provide the fabric needed to connect home devices in smarter ways.  The Nest API could become the “go to” operating system for an extremely broad range of devices.

The API will release to the public in early 2014.