From the company’s inception, we’ve been obsessed with making our product dead simple to use, from set-up to customer value. Why? Because so much smart home technology is so complicated to just make it work.
One of the primary reasons it “sucks” is a lack of common industry standards. We’ve seen this movie before. In fact, the article reminds me of what I experienced at one of my prior companies that offered an “OS for TV.” Every TV manufacturer rejected the idea because (in their words), “if you own the OS, you are going to become as big as Microsoft.” They feared us moving the value of the TV itself to our software platform. And they were right, that is what would have happened.
Something similar is happening now with smart home technology. The consumer electronics industry has been immune to common standards in recent years. Once upon a time, radio and TV flourished because common standards enabled manufacturers to provide products with similar capabilities AND their own differentiated features. But today, there are many players in the space and no one is willing to cede control to any one company. Every article sings the same tune: standards don’t exist and no one is willing to create a unified platform for fear that it will make it hard to compete.
But there is more to this article than interoperability. There’s an important message for companies like ours. If we design something to help people, we better make it work well, work with ease and work reliably.
For that reason, the Dwellwell team focuses its energy on two things:
1) Getting our product to work well. That means developing simpler algorithms that are less prone to imperfection. This generates confidence in a product and allows customers to learn things that don’t require an advanced engineering degree.
2) Don’t boil down the ocean. We have an opportunity to provide our customers with much-needed, comprehensive data and analytics. Our industry needs to work harder to think of more low-hanging features since I believe those will have a meaningful impact on our early success.
A perfect example: I have a weather station on my vacation home. It sends me an extremely accurate report (verified by standards bodies and other experts) of all the parameters each morning. It doesn’t tell me the weather and it doesn’t forecast the future, but it gives me enough useful information that I can see what’s going on.
So, my conclusion is yes, current smart home technology is rather poor and no platform has been certified as “the right one” for most applications. But this is also an opportunity. An innovative company (I humbly suggest ours!) can move into this market with a broad solution and provide reliable data while delivering modest, yet useful, intelligence. As we build trust with customers, they will eagerly welcome more features and value.
Author: Dan Simpkins, CEO and Co-Founder, Dwellwell Analytics, Inc.