Parks Associates, an IoT and smart home research firm, released a report suggesting that 13 percent of U.S. broadband households (there were 106 million such homes as of 2016) have installed smart thermostats as of 2017. That’s up from 11 percent in 2016, an increase of approximately 2.1 million homes last year.
What does this mean for on-demand services that can tap into smart thermostats (with consumers’ permission)? Let’s brainstorm:
Think of the ADT model. The security company monitors the state of a home and, when there is a break-in, alerts the police. A smart thermostat could provide live monitoring of a home’s temperature and furnace/air conditioning to deliver real-time service. Your furnace fails and before you realize it is not heating the home, a service provider shows up to fix it. With a digital lock in the scenario, consumer might not even need to be home to discover and fix a heating problem in winter. Feels like magic to the homeowner.
Home activity monitoring. Nest’s thermostats have been detecting activity in the home and adjusting temperatures when consumers arrive home. Water heaters cold lower their electrical or gas usage during the day. Tie activity monitoring to a meal-delivery service to trigger the arrival of dinner just after he customer comes in from work.
Security. The smart thermostat can also detect unexpected entry to a home and signal the customer or a security firm when something is amiss. It may be just one more sensor, but motion/sound detection could replace traditional doors and window security monitors, lowering the price of home security installs and services.
On-demand work tracking. A smart thermostat linked to on-demand service providers’ networks could track when a housekeeper, dog-walker, plant watering service, or other labor enters and leaves the home. Consumers could have validation that their housekeeper worked the full time they were expected to, even when no one was home, from their smart thermostat.
On-demand companies need to anticipate and build business relationships around devices that extend the customer relationship. Smart thermostats, smart speakers, smart thermostat-speakers, electrical and water system monitors, smart refrigerators, smart phones, smart TVs, and myriad other devices can help identify consumer needs before they are detected by consumers themselves. However, these services must respect the customer’s privacy and act in service of their interests, or such tools will seem intrusive.
Update: Chuck Martin at MediaPost discusses how companies are embracing IoT today, as well. Lots of very interesting results from a survey of 500 executives considering or actively investing in IoT-enabled customer experiences.