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Smart Lighting: Are We Sacrificing Experience for Capability?

New technology is enabling consumers to connect the appliances, electronics, and infrastructure in their homes in ways like never before. Smart ovens can keep a prepared meal chilled all day and then warm it up as you head home from work. TVs and other electronics can upgrade themselves with over-the-air firmware updates. And your home lighting—sometimes even the bulbs themselves—can respond to your presence, know if anyone’s home or not, and even mimic your at-home behavior when you’re away to ward off potential burglars. These are the benefits a connected home can bring to the table. This is the promise of the Internet of Things (IoT).

But have you ever tried to buy and set up, for example, a connected bulb? Buying light bulbs these days is complicated enough with all the new technology jargon—lumens, CRI, color temperature, etc. Connectivity adds yet another level of complexity to this. For connected white LED bulbs alone, you need to know about radio protocols, hubs, brand compatibility, apps, and more. Even if you do find the right bulb, getting it to deliver everything it was designed to do is no easy task. It’s not just a matter of screwing it in and turning on the switch. But why isn’t it?

Connected technology can enhance our lives in many ways, but in a rush to deliver products to consumers before the competition, many companies have sacrificed experience for capability, compatibility for the brand.

We get it: delivering a great experience for complex technology is difficult. The things these products can do are often complicated and hard to wrap your head around. And companies want to differentiate their products and services. At the same time, segment-defining products like the iPhone and Amazon Echo have shown us that consumers can (and should) expect good experiences with technology—even delightful ones.

If you buy a connected light bulb at your local home store, you should have some reasonable assurance that it will work in your home as you need it to, and that “installing” it and operating it won’t be overtly burdensome. Right now we’re not there, but many product companies and industry organizations are working to change that.

At CES this January, Richard Gunther, our Director of Client Experience, will be speaking on a panel about these very issues. Entitled Smart Lighting Just Needs to Work; the panel is part of the Bluetooth Special Interest Groups (SIG) conference track, An IoT for Everyone. He’ll join a group of industry experts and corporate leaders directly involved in delivering connected lighting products to consumers and the enterprise.

If you’re planning on attending CES this January, sign up to attend this panel, before space fills up. It takes place on Day 3 of CES—Saturday, January 7, at 11:30 a.m. PST.