Home Automation and Future of Advertising

Home AutomationThe past few years have given us the smartphone and the smart television, but the dream of the smart home – one where appliances talked to us, the blinds opened when the sun rose, or the garage door opened automatically when we pulled into the driveway – seemed to be lost on the horizon … until recently. Now, new technology is making attainable the dream of a smart home. However, with home automation comes a change in how companies will likely market their products to us.

Brands will likely become gateways for advertisers hawking their wares. Imagine this: a refrigerator that knows when you are low on milk and alerts you to this fact. Advertisers might seek ways to connect with this smart refrigerator – maybe the appliance is equipped with a tablet-like screen that can receive direct messages from manufacturers – to market their milk products directly to you. Such smart appliances are just one way that manufacturers may reach out to consumers in the smart home.

Wireless service providers such as AT&T also jumped on the home automation bandwagon by offering its own suite of home automation products and services. And T-Mobile now offers banking to its customers via cellphones, which is a strong indicator that wireless providers are beginning to think outside the box. It is also a strong indicator that wireless companies will continue to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing mobile and technology environments.

With home automation, we are likely to see the cellphone or other mobile device become an even more intrinsic part of everyday life. Much of home automation will revolve around the cellphone, laptop, or tablet and functions in the home that they control – such as activating alarms, setting up record times on the television, and communicating with any number of appliances that will be equipped to respond to texted or voice commands. Until now, no one has come up with an efficient method for advertising directly to one’s smartphone or tablet. But that is likely to change as homes become smarter.

For instance, the search giant, Google, just acquired Nest Labs in an endeavor to crack open the burgeoning smart home market. When fully implemented, consumers might connect their thermostats or light bulbs to a Google account, which, in turn, would supply the company with data for targeted advertising to their consumers. Perhaps a day will come when your dishwasher runs low on rinse and you receive a notice on your cellphone or integrated dishwasher display to that effect carrying with it a coupon for Cascade. Such a day is ever closer to reality. But is such a day an example of convenience or intrusion?

The future is upon us. As our homes grow smarter, we are likely to encounter more intrusive forms of advertising as everything that is connected to the Internet becomes a means of tagging, cataloging, and disseminating information about us back to manufacturers. In turn, these companies will reach out to us to entice us with those products they think we need. All thanks to the burgeoning intelligences of our homes.

This isn’t all bad, of course. The smart home of the future will also monitor our well-being and vital signs and report when a serious complication arises. But there is a tradeoff to having such an intelligent home. Having that smart home comes with greater intrusion from manufacturers and another means for them to disrupt our daily lives.

It is hard to go anywhere anymore without being subjected to ads for this detergent or that service. Aside from the daily junk mail and televised advertisements, our homes were safe havens from the commercial onslaught. Some might argue that such intrusion is more a matter of convenience, but with so much concern over companies prying into our private lives to acquire data to better sell to us, isn’t the automated home just one more step along a slippery slope to delivering out of our hands an even greater degree of privacy? Maybe that is something to think about.

Perhaps while we enjoy the added convenience the smart home provides, we might want to remember that the automated home might be just another marketing Trojan horse.


Jessica Oaks



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