the ConversAItion: Season 2 Episode 10

Smarter Homes with IoT

Smart homes, IoT education, sustainable living—Jim is joined by IoT expert Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino to talk about all things “living with tech.” They unpack the history and future of technology in the home.

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“[Homes are] an incredibly difficult place to design for because everyone lives so differently. I’m interested in what kinds of products would really make a dent in someone's life in unusual ways, or that would help them manage their life in a new way.”
Alexandra Sonsino

About Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino is a respected IoT thought leader, and founder and consultant at her company designswarm. She advises businesses on IoT, smart homes, and energy projects, and has worked with clients including Procter and Gamble, Nokia and National Geographic. Follow Alexandra on Twitter @iotwatch.

Short on time? Here are 5 quick takeaways:

  1. The smart home isn't a new concept; technology innovation has changed the way we live for centuries.

    In her first book Smarter Homes: How Technology Will Change Your Home Life, Alexandra explores how the concept of a smart home has been developing over the course of the past hundred years—with inventions that we don’t necessarily even consider “technology” anymore. Much like the introduction of electricity, the emergence of internet-connected devices is another phase in the evolution.

  2. When IoT was first introduced in the early 2000s, developers were innovating novel solutions. Now, they’re focused on practical applications.

    According to Alexandra, the Wild West of smart home IoT is already behind us. Today, people are focused on pragmatic IoT solutions; smart thermostats or security systems are far more common than smart toys, for example. 

    In fact, in an effort to understand what people actually want and need from IoT at home, Alexandra spearheaded the HomeSense project. The 2009 initiative paired nontechnical people of all different lifestyles with local developers to create customized solutions to real domestic problems. For instance, one couple developed a sound dial that would signal when they were being too loud and disturbing the elderly couple next door. 

  3. There’s a need for broad IoT education; while digital literacy is on the rise, it doesn't necessarily translate to physical devices.

    Very rarely do people feel comfortable opening up their television or toaster to fix a glitch. When it comes to consumer technology, we’ve created these black boxes that make it very hard to understand the algorithms and operations that hide beneath the hardware. 

    Though it requires more effort, Alex is focused on translating IoT into plain language because it allows people to think about everyday objects in a new light; they’re more capable of understanding how to leverage IoT devices to make better decisions.

  4. IoT devices have the potential to accelerate sustainable living.

    Our internet-connected devices are unique in their ability to recognize how we live, and where we allocate resources. When it comes to sustainable living, IoT provides environmental data that could inform how national grids operate and the ways in which energy is produced across the world. 

    Over the next 10 to 20 years, Alexandra believes that by connecting specific climate data to our products, everyday devices could prompt us to use things in new, more power-efficient ways, like at different times of the day when the grid is greener. Ultimately, IoT devices hold the potential to change our behavior for the better. 

  5. As IoT devices are seamlessly integrated into everyday life, technology providers will assume the role of utility providers, too.

    The explosion of IoT devices in recent years has brought to light the excess of hardware in our everyday lives. Moving forward, technology developers will be focused on eliminating the need for unnecessary apparatuses.

    Today, you can have a Roku TV with built-in wifi, for example, that easily streams shows and movies without a cable box. The consolidation of devices will ideally lead to less power consumption and greener behavior down the line.

Check out more episodes of The ConversAItion.