Michael Douglas in Digital Marketing, Technology, English Head of digital • Sapient Nitro 6 d ago · 2 min read · +100

Smart Home Hubs - Homes will be the next battle ground for brands.

Smart Home Hubs - Homes will be the next battle ground for brands.

Speak to any business in the early noughties and the must have thing was a website. Jump forward to the turn of the decade and the must was an app. 

2015/16 has seen hype around Chabot’s, a technology that in all intense and purposes has been around for a number of years, but when FaceBook and Microsoft turn their attention to a new area, its hard to not to sit up and take notice.

Back in 2014, Amazon introduced a new device to the world the “Echo”, initially considered “a tad baffling” by TechCrunch and simply described as smart speaker or digital voice assistants for the home. It was difficult to see why anyone other than techies would find it useful, hence it’s launch hardly set the world alight. 

On reflection the iPhone’s global impact was also pretty understated at its launch back in 2007, its true potential was not discovered until 2011 with the release of the App Store. 

The Echo along with its smaller companions the Echo Dot and The Tap are device’s that have the potential to have the same impact on global scale as the iPhone and the subsequent App store launch. Due to this potential October 2016 also saw Google announce the launch of its own smart speaker competitor “Google Home”. 

Whilst out the box neither brand allow much more than the ability to use voice commands to interact with Music, Weather, Calendars, To-do’s services or smart home products such as Philips Hue lights and Nest Thermostat’s. They do open up brands to a world of potential, interacting with consumers in the home and providing services in a revolutionary new way, not seen since the launch of the smart phones and tablets.

The smart home hubs (Smart Hubs) provides a platform much bigger than the actual device, where developers can extend the capabilities of the hardware using applications or skills making the device more than just a smart speaker, but an actual hub that becomes ingrained in our everyday lives. 

Similar to the operating system Samantha in film “Her” or the futuristic digital assistant “Jarvis” in Marvel films the implementation of skills allow for the hub to evolve much further than it's simple starting point. Providing opportunities for brand and businesses to connect with consumers potentially endless. Just as apps extends the basic capabilities of the

smart phone, the foundation is now set for brands to exploit this new platform using skills on a completely new interface.

At the turn of the decade bank statements for example, were a standard part of most people’s interaction with banks and their personal finance. Usually having to wait to the end of the month to take account of their ins and outgoings. This simple action has evolved into been able to check your transactions via mobile at near real time.

With digital assistants (smart hubs) banking brands take this interaction to the next level by providing banking information simply by asking….

“Alexa… What is my bank balance from NatWest security code XYZ?”

Or “OK Google… What are the last 5 transactions from Lloyds account blah?”

Or “Alexa… Set a £10 monthly standing order for Katie starting on 28th”

*Maybe banking sounds, a little too risky…

How about interacting with your Sky Q Box, simply by speaking? 

“Alexa… change the channel on Sky to 601 or Sky Sports 1.”

Or “Ok Google Record BBC 1 @ 9pm and set reminder for Big Brother in Sky Q.”

As awareness of smart hubs devices begin to rise on the global consciousness, it only time before we start to see skills been produced for everything from managing energy readings on linked smart meters or ordering your weekly shop to

starting and summoning your Tesla... simply by asking… 

For an unofficial list of Skills available on the Amazon Echo check out http://www.alexaskillstore.com/ 

*Capital One already have a skill on the Echo