Ramblings about entertainment, lifestyle and travel
This morning I was lucky enough to get an early glimpse into what the very near future might look like, with the launch of the largest Smart Home experience in the UK. John Lewis is the first UK retailer to have made it its mission to bring the ‘Internet of Things’ to the mainstream consumer, with a 1000 square foot space at its flagship store on Oxford Street, boasting futuristic gadgets for every part of the home.
From an oven that enables you to put dinner on before you leave the office, to a bedside device that monitors the quality of your sleep and the coolest, smart fridge, which not only does your internet shopping for you, but lets you listen to radio and put expiration dates on your food. I mean, what more could you possibly want?
The move comes in response to an 81 per cent increase in sales of smart home products in the past year at John Lewis, with the retailer citing 18 times more people searching for smart home products on its online site, compared to the same time the previous year (Dec 2014 – Dec 2015). They predict a 450% market growth up to 2020, though this could be even faster than predicted.
“We are seeking to demystify the latest smartest technology for our customers,” says Johnathan Marsh, Buying Director for Electricals and Home Technology, John Lewis. “In-store experiences are now key as we’ve seen customer demand for physical experiences before committing to purchase increase. To help customers understand which smart technology is for them, our Partners have received extensive training to provide added value. Given our home and technology credentials, John Lewis is perfectly placed to support and lead the customer on the smart home journey.”
The experience was designed to bring to life the possibilities a smart home can bring and open up and demystify the technology for ‘mass adoption’. The process of the project was about creating “theatrical moments that contextualise what these products can do for the home”, according to Innovation Manager John Vary.
The ‘real-life home setting’ is split into four interactive zones: ‘Kitchen’, ‘Entertainment’, ‘Sleep’ and ‘Home monitoring’, showing consumers how they can save time, effort and enhance their busy lifestyles by controlling their home through the touch of an app on their smart device.
The concept of the space was initially kicked off in September 2015 with flexibility at its heart to allow it to adapt to changing technology, with concept designer, Mark Bunney, confirming that as “customers are concerned of the lifespan of products”, they will always have the latest products on show.
Devices you never knew you needed until today
The gadget that I wanted to pack in my bag and take home with me (if it wasn’t so much on the heavy side that is) was the incredibly exciting Samsung Family Hub Smart Fridge with built-in touch screen which brightens up automatically as you approach and allows you to internet shop from your fridge. A set of cameras inside the door mean you can view the contents of your fridge from your phone when out and about so you know when to buy milk and also show you when things are about to expire, possibly limiting the amount of waste. The demo fridge is currently exclusive with John Lewis until the end of June, when I’ve been told it goes up for general sale.
Also on show for the first time is the new S+ by ResMed, one of the world’s first non-contact sleep tracking system that helps analyse and improve quality of sleep. The ResMed S+ records light, noise and temperature conditions in bedrooms, and syncs to smart devices to provide personalised feedback on how to improve sleep.
The experience also features two windows that recreate external environments showcasing different scenarios, including weather throughout the day.
The smart home experience will be rolled out to other shops across the UK starting with the new John Lewis Leeds store, scheduled to open in Autumn 2016.
The future of the Smart Home
John Vary, Innovation Manager, John Lewis, comments: “Smart home technology is designed to make life more convenient, and the introduction of this new curated experience – the first on the high street– marks a brilliant step in innovation for John Lewis. Showcasing the latest smart products, this experience demonstrates in a real-life setting, how technology has exciting and far-reaching implications for today’s lifestyles.”
Products featured in the smart home experience include Philips Hue lighting; Sonos PLAY:5 Wireless Music System; Nest Protect 2nd Generation Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm; AEG BS8836880B ProCombi Plus Smart Oven and the Netatmo Welcome Home Camera with Face Recognition.
The smart home experience at John Lewis Oxford Street is open to customers from today.
Now anyone got some spare cash to buy me that fridge please?