For those of you who missed GigaOM’s Stacey Higginbothom’s interview with Alex Hawkinson, the CEO of SmartThings, it’s worth hearing his point of view on the cloud and connecting devices in the home. In describing the internet of things, Hawkinson said:
“We’re entering a new phase of the web where all of the objects of the world become interconnected. We think of it as a physical graph that’s gonna arise.”
We’ve seen the social graph arise with Facebook and LinkedIn but most big IT players and a bunch of startups are eying making all hardware graphed on the internet. We see this in home energy management with companies like Nest, which have smart, connected thermostats that connect to the internet and which learn consumers’ behavior to save them energy.
But I expect that thermostats will just be the beginning and we’re looking at connected lighting, refrigerators, pool pumps. The winner in this crazy world of incompatible protocols and different chipsets with different connectivity will be the company that figures out how to seamlessly network all these devices.
It’s a major ask and potentially impossible with so many disparate manufacturers of appliances (this is the reason the smart startups have gone after the highest energy ROI part of the home, the HVAC). But hub model where all devices can be networked to one communications device that then has a software layer is a possibility. The trick will be figuring out who is going to sell that hub because I’m not yet seeing consumers being willing to go to best buy and do all that purchase and configuration themselves.