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A Tale of Two IoT Meet-Ups: Where’s the Beef?

Posted By Rick Saletta on 05/10/2016 at 11:48AM

Over the last couple weeks I attended a pair of Smart Home / IoT related meet-ups. The first was sponsored by Philips Lighting at the Sunnyvale Plug N’ Play center, an incubator and office space for start-ups that is known for hosting interesting events that mix start-ups, partners and investors. The second was at the Target Open House in San Francisco.

Philips keeps office space at the Plug N’ Play Center to identify and work with new technology start-ups. The most useful info from the presentation was that Philips has 3 divisions, one focused on home. It’s appeared that Philips walked upstairs and brought 1 Hue lamp to demo. It was a POE lamp (Power Over Ethernet) which made it interesting for a few seconds. 
At the Philips tables, there was nothing to demo, simply a couple of partner managers waiting for start-ups to bring their ideas. I overheard one founder say “Do they really expect us to stand here and tell them our ideas?” Another asked, “We came here; what do you have to offer start-ups?” This Philips lighting event was void of content, sub-par for Plug N’ Play, as was the pizza, but at least there time to network.

At the other end of the Bay is Target. Target recently constructed a one story model home near the San Francisco Metreon to demonstrate Smart Home products. They routinely host events, this one called “Investing in the Future of IoT” It was really good to see so many Smart Home solutions and devices lined-up together and functioning. The food was catered, the networking was quite good and the investor panel was insightful. Panelists included:

Hanns Anders, Investment Manager at iRobot Ventures
Mark Valdez, Principal at Playground Global
Varun Jain, VC at Qualcomm Ventures
Kate McAndrew, VC at Bolt VC

Still, some of these early Smart Home & IoT devices left attendees wondering “Where’s the value proposition?” Why do I need a smart kitchen scale that displays the measured weight on my tablet? How useful is a smart coffee maker that you can turn on from your cell phone when the coffee maker lacks a water intake valve? These so called “smart” devices are connected not intelligent. Connected does not always mean more useful but it often it means more things can go wrong.

One of the most thoughtful product innovations i saw was a fully trasnparent, lucite crib so you can see the baby from all angles. Then, I realized the lucite crib is was just a prop in the model home. Reflecting on these two events, just imagine the situation comedy if Ron Howard were to revive Arrested Development as a Smart Home :)

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Tags: iot smart home security ott target philips